Goodbye to my Norway maple frenemy

It was the worst of trees, it was the best of trees. And now my former 90-year-old neighbour is no tree at all. It’s just a stump. Yes, it’s an invasive alien that someone a few generations ago thought would make a great street tree. It did. But Norway maples (Acer platanoides) have also edged […]

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What’s missing from this picture?

As I admired the carpet of maple leaves in my yard (Norway maple leaves, she sighed resignedly), wondering if I had time to haul out my shredder, I noticed something. To be exact, I noticed something that wasn’t there. Can you see it? No tar spots. None. Not anywhere. We first wrote about the disfiguring fungal […]

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The secret life of red maple trees

Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name? Of course, I was talking to this beautiful tree in its red cloak, spotted in an East York garden not far from home. Every step slowed as I walked towards it and looked way up. Was it a Freeman maple (Acer x fremanii)? More and more are appearing along Toronto’s […]

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Oh, cutleaf Japanese maple, you are so red

Cutleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum var. dissectum) Even at dusk. Even with a shaky phone camera. Even in November. The multilayered fall colour on this cutleaf Japanese maple is just otherworldly, like a picture by the Hubble space telescope. I wonder if it might be Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’ which, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden, […]

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Nip this bug problem in the bud… or in the egg

During a post-vacation check-up of my heat-challenged, newly planted Japanese maple this morning I spied this pixel-patterned egg mass. Aha! I exclaimed, summoning my vast store of entomological knowledge, Those are definitely the eggs of some kind of insect. No, I’m not an entomologist. But I can be a fairly good detective when it comes […]

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Tarry black spot on maples

Black tar spot of maples (Rhytisma acerinum) is one of the few excuses I can accept for sending your leaves off in the yard waste truck. Toronto gardeners have likely noticed this unsightly fungal disease over the past few years. It manifests as dime- or quarter-sized black spots on leaves, hitting many kinds of maple […]

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Saving a 150-year-old tree

This story happened in Quebec, but it’s a story that could have happened anywhere with trees. Take one 150-year-old sugar maple tree. Apply wind; lots of wind. Aaaand… oops! Miraculously, this tree-sized branch missed the car, landed on a fence but didn’t crush it, even the birdhouse made it through the branches unscathed. However, the […]

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The good thing about Norway maples

Sarah and I do gripe and moan and complain about the Norway maples (Acer platanoides) we’re each forced to share our gardens with. In the city’s urban forest, Norway maples represent 26% of Toronto’s street tree population; likely higher in the old city of Toronto (as it was before amalgamation). That’s not counting the volunteer […]

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What’s growing in March: Silver Maples

In Toronto, the blooming of the silver maple, Acer saccharinum, is a true sign of spring. Yet most people don’t even notice the modest little pompom flowers because they’re way up there on some of the city’s tallest street trees. When it’s not in leaf, you can recognize the mature silver maple by its shaggy […]

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Tough As Old Boots

This is a phrase that my dad used to say a lot, as in: “Don’t worry about me, I’m as tough as old boots.” And this descriptor popped into my head while walking through my fall garden this morning. I realized I have a few plants that should be placed in this new category. Plants […]

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Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves

Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves. – Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility What is it about Canadians and dead leaves? The spurning of them, I mean. To my utter horror, I’ve just discovered that my new downstairs neighbour has carefully raked and stuffed into plastic garbage bags every single decaying leaf in the […]

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