Ravine Diary: A garden and book by Olev Edur

Author/gardener Olev Edur and his book, Ravine Diary

Sunday lived up to its sunny name for the Beach Garden Tour. As a change from a photo essay, this profile of Olev Edur’s ravine garden will be the first in a series on some of the gardens… and gardeners… on this year’s Beach tour.

Olev Edur’s garden tumbles sharply from Kingston Road down into the Glen Davis Ravine. The full title of his book tells his story: Ravine Diary: of how a rubble-strewn, weed-infested urban ravine became a spectacular wildlife mecca. The book is available through the Toronto Library, and might still be for sale through Book City and the Beaches outlet of Coles.

When Edur bought his home a dozen years ago, the long-neglected site had become overrun with aggressive alien trees such as Manitoba maple. Over the years, he has removed these, replacing them with trees such as serviceberry and redbud, and remaking a ravine garden with wildlife in mind.

Except for the treads on the winding steps, all the stonework used was recycled concrete or reclaimed stone.
A fountain bubbles at the base of the steps.
Stumps from the removed alien trees have been repurposed as shoring for the steep slope.


Through the archway of a redbud tree near the bottom of the garden is a green terrace where friends can collect around a fireplace, seated on stump rounds and Muskoka chairs. I loved the natural undulations in this tree-stump table.

Some of the species Edur used are non-native – and some, such as periwinkle, should never be used anywhere near a native ravine setting. They’re invasive, themselves. Considering this is a non-professional rehabilitation of an already significantly disrupted urban site, however, the effect of his work is green and soothing. Practises such as his recycling of wood and stone also minimize the overall environmental impact of the redesign.

Toronto has paved over so many of its rivers and constructed within so many of its ravines, it’s to all our benefit to try to conserve or rehabilitate what little we have left. At the crest of the hilltop across the ravine from Edur’s garden, for example, is a remnant of mature forest. I’ll be writing about one of the gardens there soon. It’s something that the residents of Glen Davis ravine are currently trying to preserve in their struggle with the OMB over a proposed Kingston Road condo development. For more information on this, check out The Friends of Glen Davis Ravine site. [Update: in 2016, this link is no longer active]

If you’re a Beacher (or even if you’re not), you might also be interested in this Beaches Living article on the area’s lost rivers and ravines – the Glen Davis ravine is but one of many!

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