Sunday, September 26, 2010

Volunteers Tzu Chi West Toronto Office Cultivating Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

If you saw a hundred or so people hard at work at Brueckner Rhododendron Garden in the middle of a holiday long weekend, the last long weekend of the summer at that, then you were witness to some of the volunteer work of Tzu Chi West Toronto Office, a non-profit charity that tends the Garden about three times each year.

Their generous contribution of time and effort makes a huge impact on the overall appearance of the Garden beds, and is testament yet again that 'many hands make light work'.

Here are some photos of the Tzu Chi volunteers at the Garden in September.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi West Toronto Office

For several years now, the Tzu Chi West Toronto Office volunteers have come to tend the Brueckner Rhododendron Garden as part of the City of Mississauga’s Litternot Program. Usually some 50-70 volunteers, many of them families, show their love for the earth by weeding and cleaning the Garden, while enjoying the beautiful scenery and peaceful surroundings.

Tzu Chi Volunteer Gardeners Cultivating Rhododendron Beds at BRG

At present, the West Toronto Office has over 160 active volunteers, and about 600 supporters. Tzu Chi volunteers serve their community in many ways, including helping at senior homes, food banks, and with the City of Mississauga’s LitterNot program.

Tzu Chi Volunteers Clean Lake Ontario Beach Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

Brueckner Rhododendron Garden is sited on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Storms, winds and waves, as well as thoughtless visitors, can toss lots of litter onto the shoreline of the Garden. Several times a year, garden staff and volunteers such as Tzu Chi West Toronto Office make a concerted effort to clean up this beach.

Tzu Chi Volunteers at BRG Mississauga Ontario  

On the Labour Day weekend alone, 120 Tzu Chi volunteers weeded 9 flower beds and cleaned up the lake shore in two hours. Because this larger than usual number of volunteers were able to attend, much was accomplished. Over the next week or so, other visitors to the Garden commented on how lovely and well-tended the garden beds were.

Tzu Chi West Toronto Office Group Photo at Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

After a few hours' work, it was time for lunch, a bit of socializing and a group photo.

"We had a very good time [at the BRG], said Adrienne, Tzu Chi Volunteer Coordinator. "Work and play is the greatest combination of life, isn't it?"

Update August 28 2011 Tzu Chi Day at the Garden.

Tzu Chi’s 'Four Missions, Eight Footprints' are Charity, Medicine, Education, Humanities, International Relief, Bone-Marrow Donation, Community Volunteerism, and Environmental Protection. Through volunteer activities, Tzu Chi members blend Buddhist teachings into their daily lives.

To learn more about Tzu Chi Foundation Canada, see

For Tzu Chi West Toronto, see

For Tzu Chi Global, see

Thank you, Tzu Chi volunteers!
On behalf of Gardens staff, volunteers and visitors, a great big THANK YOU! to Tzu Chi. Your work is much appreciated !

If your group would like to help cultivate Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens, call 311 from anywhere in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and let us know. Or post a comment and we will get back to you. Students looking to fulfill community service hours should also call for information.

Much work (compost, mulch, weeding, planting, etc) is scheduled to be done this fall to get the Garden ready for winter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

American Chestnut Mississauga Port Credit Gone with the Winds at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens

One less American Chestnut in Southern Ontario as grand old tree became a storm casualty at Brueckner garden in Port Credit Mississauga.

A short but violent windstorm on Friday September 3 claimed one of the few remaining American chestnuts in Brueckner garden, and indeed in all of southern Ontario. And the saddest aspect, perhaps, is we never knew it was 'sick'.

Here are some pictures that show this chestnut tree in full and glorious bloom, and after the wind storm brought it down. Click on an image to enlarge, then click Back button to return to this page.

American Chestnut in Bloom
Here's a picture of this America Chestnut tree (middle, tallest tree) taken in early June, 2010. If you visit the Garden, you may recognize its location as the west garden between the heritage Brueckner Rhododendron garden and the entrance parking area.

This chestnut leafed out beautifully, and was laden with blooms on every branch. It gave no hint that it was stressed. It had survived / avoided the chestnut blight that decimated most of these trees last century, and countless storms. it appeared the picture of chestnut health.

Close Up Photo of American Chestnut Flowers
These are the chestnut flowers of this same tree. Almost overshadowed by the featured rhodos at the height of their bloom, these chestnut blooms added to the overall lushness of the spring blooming gardens.

Wind storm claims a Grand old American Chestnut Tree
Here's the picture I took the evening following the sudden violent wind and rain storm that swept through this part of southern Ontario the Friday afternoon start to the Labour Day weekend. This storm brought a large amount of rain, and high winds, but little or no lightning or thunder.

Chestnut Tree Fallen on BRG Trail
This picture is taken from the start of the trail from the parking area entrance, looking south towards the Heritage Rhodo beds. The blooming flowers are in the Annual Bed.  I had entered the Gardens from the (opposite) southeast entrance, at Godfrey's Lane, and several visitors, noticing I was taking pictures, mentioned the large tree down at the west entrance.

American Chestnut ~ Rotten at the Core
As this damage occurred at the start of a long weekend, city crews could only mark the chestnut with tape until workers could remove it. City staff I spoke to said that although a number of trees and branches had fallen in the storm, this chestnut was the largest tree they had seen.

It's difficult to appreciate the girth of this tree, but the remaining sawn-off stump is almost 3 feet across. And in the core, you can see the cavity damage that weakened it, fatally.

American Chestnut Backdrop for Kennedy Plaque Dedication
This chestnut was in bloom when the Kennedy Memorial Plaque was unveiled in June 2009 (white flowers, top left).

Kennedy Memorial Plaque Safe Between the Chestnut Branches
Incredibly, the Harold Kennedy Memorial stand with plaque emerged unscathed in the midst of the enormous fallen Chestnut canopy.

Chestnut takes out Plantings around Kennedy Plaque
One of the shrub beds around the Kennedy Memorial Plaque was collateral damage from the falling chestnut tree. The shrubs to the right in this photo are fine, but the ones to the left, including a new standard rose tree, are gone but one, and will be replaced as soon as possible.

Willow Tree Branch ~ Waterfront Trail at West Side, South Bridge
Coming in via the Southeast garden, as I had, I first encountered this willow branch that had fallen across this part of the Waterfront Trail. Willows are notorious for losing large bits or entire trees during windstorms. See this post for one of the fallen willows.

As with much else, so too with this late, great American Chestnut tree at the Garden: You don't know what you've lost until it's gone. Indeed, I didn't even realize until now that American Chestnuts are on the endangered species list.

There is one other large chestnut tree in the Garden, and I posted the link to a previous post about Carolinian forest trees  below. Also for reference are links to American chestnut tree information.

Related information, Pictures:
Last Chestnut at Brueckner Gardens?
ROM Royal Ontario Museum - American Chestnut
Canadian Chestnut Council