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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

East Garden Rhododendrons, Azaleas Ready for BRG Tour

Volunteers, City Staff Tidy BRG For Annual Tour  May 27, 2012

The BRG will be looking its best for the annual Rhododendron Gardens tour this weekend. No mean feat, since rhododendron and azalea blooming times coincide with the Springtime explosion of weeds. Battling weeds is a full time job, as any gardener knows, and sometimes it seems that the weeds are winning.

But thanks to a big helping hand from 70 Tzu Chi West Toronto volunteers, including 10 children, weeds have been dealt a major blow: The Tzu Chi weed-blitz left the Heritage rhododendron beds and the entire East Garden looking manicured;  and a litter-picking party tidied up the Lake Ontario waterfront.  Here are some pictures of Tzu Chi at work, and a look at the gorgeous rhodies and azaleas.

 Tzu Chi volunteer tent at Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens, Mississauga, ON, with David Culham, chair BRGSC.
Tzu Chi West Toronto, David Culhan ~ Gardens Volunteers
 Head Gardener, Para Kanp (left), and Gardens stewardship committee chair, David Culham (center, facing camera), welcomed the Tzu Chi volunteer gardeners, who arrived before 9 a.m. on Victoria Day holiday Monday, tools, gloves and sun hats in hand and ready to do some fast and serious cultivating.

Weeds cover the soil in a rhododendron bed in spring.
BRG East Garden Bed Before Weeding
Most of the group headed across the foot bridge to work in the East Garden, where the newest rhododendron and azalea beds are located. These East Garden beds are barely three years old, prepared with good soil, compost and fertilizer that weeds love as much as do rhodos. I took the above picture before the bed had been weeded.

Garden bed after weeding, so rhododendrons now able to grow.
BRG East Garden Bed After Weeding
With this large rhodo bed now weed free, the rhododendrons have little competition for sun light and fertilizer. Small clumps of remaining green are Sweet Woodruff, a ground cover to help control weeds.

Brilliant mauve flowers on Herbert azaleas, BRG Mississauga Ontario. (Port Credit)
Tzu Chi Grooms Herbert Azaleas in Full Bloom 
What a gorgeous spot to work on a Holiday Monday in Spring! While it may appear in the photo that there are no weeds to be seen, there were lots of thistles, dandelions, Creeping Charlie and clover hidden among the Herberts: Tzu Chi weeded them out!

Clear bags hold weeds for compost pile, as it's easier to carry them when you don't have wheelbarrows.
Weeds Bagged for Composting
As the weeders weeded, other volunteers went from bed to bed, gathering up the piles of weeds and putting them in clear plastic bags to be removed for composting.

Azalea Lemon Lights, deep pink Rhododendons full bloom , hostas, BRG East Garden, Port Credit, ON.
BRG East Garden Beds Lemon Lights, Rhodos Positively Blooming!
With the weeds gone from this bed in the East Garden at the BRG, yellow flowers on the small azalea Lemon Lights can shine! Lush hostas backdrop this bed, interplanted with deep pink Rhododendrons. David Culham, who oversees gardens volunteers, said that Tzu Chi had accomplished in two hours what a single volunteer might accomplish after a full week of long days.

Dawn redwood metasequoia greening up in late Spring, BRG east garden, Port Credit, Ontario.
Metasequoia Dawn Redwood East Garden BRG
This lovely and unique metasequoia is greening up nicely in the East Garden, and will provide the rhododendrons and azaleas a bit of shade over the summer. While the rhododendron and azaleas in the East Garden were chosen for their sun tolerance,  this bit of dappled shade will help them out.

Closer look at the soft needles on metasequoia Dawn Redwood, BRG East Garden rhododendron shade tree., Port Credit.
Needles on Metasequoia Dawn Redwood East Garden BRG
The only metasequoia in Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens is once again all needled up this spring. This tree (Dawn Redwood) is a deciduous conifer (evergreen) that is native to China. The needles are very soft. Another deciduous conifer in the BRG is the Tamarack (larch) (NB also on that page Mayapples in bloom).

Deep pink rhododendrons in bloom in BRG Mississauga, with volunteer weeding in spring.
Rhododendrons like Tzu Chi! 
These younger, newer rhododendrons in the East Garden are coming into their third year in a blaze of blooms! Many plants are totally covered in heavy flowers, looking the picture of health and vigour. That's thanks, in part,  to the staff and volunteers, but mostly that's thanks to the rhododendron, azaleas and companion plants expertise of master gardener, head gardener, Para Kanp.


Para will lead the annual garden tour this Sunday afternoon, May 27, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and talk about rhodo and other plants: How to grow, Where to grow, What to grow where, and anything gardening related. 
Bring your cameras, and your gardening questions, and come to the BRG in Port Credit to enjoy wandering around Mississauga's first and only designated public garden while the rhododendrons and azaleas are a blooming wonder!