By Karen Heisz

Our Butterflyway grew significantly this summer thanks to everyone who bought native plants from the Rouge Butterflyway group in the spring! Our sale at the Earth Day event in April was more successful than we could have imagined: we received over 75 orders for more than 600 plants.

As a result of this sale, the Rouge Butterflyway has about 50 new native plant gardens in the area, which exceeds our goal of doubling the number of participants. We are absolutely thrilled with the enthusiasm of this community.

As well as the plant sale, the Butterflyway group has been busy tending gardens at Sir Oliver Mowat and the Tony Stacey Centre. Our plans to work with the students at Mowat to create pollinator gardens were approved by the TDSB in May and we have been waiting for the removal of two non-native Japanese Barberry shrubs before proceeding with the design. 

The decision to add plants this fall at the earliest was a good one; we have spent the summer keeping weeds to a minimum so that when the native plants are put in, they won’t have competition. The garden by the school’s front door is a beautiful “milkweed forest” that is visited often by monarch butterflies and bumble bees.

At the Tony Stacey Centre, we planted annuals and a few native plants to brighten up the gardens for the enjoyment of residents and staff. With the help of a neighbour, Paul Thompson, we received a donation of five flats of marigolds from the Cedargrove Garden Centre.

Every evening in the last week of June, members of our group weeded and planted. The next week, we spread 20 bags of black wood mulch, generously donated by the Home Depot on Grand Marshall Drive, on the gardens to reduce the number of weeds and retain moisture. The mulch was generously donated by the Home Depot on Grand Marshall Drive. Our volunteers received many compliments on the appearance of the gardens, and people were grateful for our efforts.

The proceeds from our plant sale will be used to purchase native plants for these two sites, and we welcome any new garden volunteers. We intend to run a plant sale again next spring with a different variety of plants, and we hope to add at least 50 new gardens to the Butterflyway next year, too!  

As we head into fall, we have two requests, Please remove dog-strangling vine from your property.  If you can’t remove it completely, cut off the flowers and seed heads to prevent more plants next year. 

Also, remember to leave as many leaves as possible in your flower beds because butterflies, caterpillars, bumblebees and many other insects seek shelter and protection under them before the cold weather arrives. The leaves also provide free fertilizer for your gardens next spring and summer. Shredded leaves break down quickly and tend not to blow away as easily, but they do not provide habitat for the insects.  

On behalf of the members of the Rouge Butterflyway, thank you again for your support of our efforts and for caring for the butterflies, bees and birds in our neighbourhood!