Gardening in Almonte: Stumped!

David

Visitors to Almonte Library last week may have noticed a major change in the garden behind the Library. Three Manitoba Maples that graced the lot along High Street are no longer. Victims of savage butchery by our suppliers of electric power these trees had developed a major list to the North and an unbalanced attitude.

A trio of local tree experts were unanimous in their view that these top-heavy behemoths were a risk to public safety. After some suggestions to Library staff, action was refreshingly quick. Town work crews obliged and cut the trees down last week. Hopefully the remaining stumps will be dealt with shortly.

The Town’s Parks Department has been able to commit to some funding for replacement trees that will be planted this spring (if it ever arrives!) – Hopefully additional funds for trees will be forthcoming.

On the other side of the gardens and running alongside the County’s rail trail up to Queen/Bridge Street is an old chain link fence that in many places is interwoven with weedy trees, shrubs and vines. My understanding is that this fence will be ultimately removed; however plans to do so appear to have stalled. It has been suggested by some that the part of this fence along the garden be retained while the unsightly fence from the Library to the main thoroughfare be removed. The fence alongside the garden could be planted with vines such as hydrangea and could both protect and shelter the garden and be a beautiful component of the garden.

Obviously these developments are creating major changes in the appearance of this very public property.

Some folks would like to see major changes to the site and a complete reworking of grades and beds to create a stunning new town attraction. Obviously such a transformation would require much more funding than what appears to be currently available. However I have been assured that whatever trees and shrubs are planted this spring will be compatible with longer term plans that are being developed for the site.

Maintenance of the part of the property closest to the Library is the responsibility of the Almonte and District Horticultural Society – these gardens are primarily planted with perennial flowers and some bulbs. The ‘Hort’ is very interested in adding a pollinator garden and making other improvements to their garden.

The back triangle has operated as a community vegetable garden for several years. Originally developed by EcoPerth for the former Youth Centre, it has been managed for several years by the Neighbourhood Tomato Community Gardening Initiative. It has provided several allotment gardening spaces for ‘downtown’ gardeners as well as a collaborative gardening space where food is grown for our Food Bank.

I believe that it would make considerable sense to integrate the two solitudes or at a minimum link the existing gardens with a path.

One cautionary lesson – when planting trees pick the right tree for the location. When planting under power lines look for a tree that achieves a maximum height of 20 to 25 feet. Some likely candidates include Crabapple, Service Berry, Pagoda Dogwood, Hawthorn, Japanese Lilac, Magnolia, and Amur Maple. The addition of conifers helps to give more four-season interest – there are many cultivars available that reach heights of 10 to 20 feet.