on June 23, 2016 by test_editor in Archive_2016, Coming Events, June, Print Articles, Comments Off on June 23, 2016: Clare Gardens Park Clean Up; Community park enjoys ‘mulch’ success.

June 23, 2016: Clare Gardens Park Clean Up; Community park enjoys ‘mulch’ success.

June 23, 2016: Clare Gardens Park Clean Up;
Community park enjoys ‘mulch’ success.

By Deb Chapman.

Clare Gardens is a much-loved park in the heart of Westboro. Thanks to the efforts of the Volunteer Gardeners of Clare Park and the Westboro Community Association, this inner city green-space is one of the busiest. Aside from the fun play structures, visitors love the beautiful garden beds, shrubs and perennials. It’s like the neighbourhood’s big backyard. The Volunteers have led the charge to keep the gardens weed-free.

Unfortunately, we were losing the fight to an infestation of burdock. While burdock roots are edible and beneficial, its flowers produce burrs that may be enjoyed by birds, but not so much by humans and pets. Burrs attach to clothing, hair and fur and are not the easiest to remove. The community agreed we wanted the burdock gone before it had a chance to take over.

Volunteers made a valiant effort to dig out as much burdock as their muscles allowed. Burdock has a tap root that’s tough to get out. It will take a consistent weeding to get rid of this tenacious native plant.

Enter the Westboro Community Association. In a WCA-to-the-rescue moment, Gary Ludington, Vice-Chair of the WCA, submitted a proposal to the City of Ottawa’s Community Environmental Projects Grant Program for a load of natural cedar mulch to help suppress the burdock. To our delight, that grant application was approved.

Thanks to the advice and support of Grassmasters Maintenance, an order of mulch was delivered just in time for the Clare Gardens Park Clean-up on May 14. The door-to-door delivery of flyers by area tweens also boosted our volunteer numbers for the morning event. From toddlers to seniors, residents turned out with wheelbarrows, shovels and a lot of enthusiasm to distribute a tandem truckload of beautiful mulch throughout the park.

The clean up was a huge success. Most of the mulch was distributed in a session that lasted four hours – two hours longer than intended. In the end, it took us till the end of May to top dress the garden beds with at least four to six inches of mulch in the weediest areas.

For some, these park clean up efforts have touched participants across generations. Clean ups such as this at Clare Gardens Park, are often the first opportunity that children in their own neighbourhoods have to give back to their community in a tangible way. Hopefully, this first happy experience will inspire in some, a lifelong commitment to volunteering.

Many visitors came up to our volunteers thanking us for our efforts. Hopefully they too will join in future clean ups.

Has this generous donation of mulch helped with our project’s environmental goals? You bet!

The mulch is absorbing rainwater and averting any run-off. Even during this spring’s drought conditions , trees, shrubs and flowers seemed to be less impacted by the lack of rain. The mulch is also improving the biodiversity of the soil. As we dug out the burdock and weeds, many volunteers were impressed by the numbers of worms and insects flourishing in the garden beds.

There was also an unexpected benefit of the mulch. It appears to be working as a barrier to prevent children from trampling the gardens beds, and encroaching on neighbours’ gardens bordering the park. The mulch has brought respect for our garden beds.

Clare Gardens Park is looking beautiful again. There have been more seniors in the park to see what’s blooming. There’s also been less graffiti. It’s amazing what a load of mulch and a little elbow grease can do to improve our environment. This is just one more example of how the evolution of community provides both predictable and unforeseen benefits, all through the efforts of neighbours working together.

7 kids and 3 adults working with garden tools around a large brown pile of mulch.

Heaps and Helpers


Photo Caption: Community kids help fill Sandra Turgeon’s wheelbarrow with mulch. Photo by Nicole Galvin.
7 kids and 3 adults working with garden tools around a large brown pile of mulch. Heaps and Helpers


Ultimately, the real benefit of improving our parks lies in the neighbourly enjoyment of our parks.
On Tuesday August 2, at 7:00 p.m., the popular Clare Gardens Park will host an equally popular Ottawa theatre group, the Company of Fools, in their “Torchlight Shakespeare” presentation of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
Noted Ottawa actor and writer Pierre Brault joins the raucous cast of this acclaimed group to bring calamity, clash, class, and culture to Ottawa’s hot summer nights. More details can be found on-line at http://fools.ca/2016/04/25/torchlight-shakespeare-pericles/

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