Garden club draws line in the sand over rockery

When the City of Toronto decided to bulldoze a rockery just outside the East York Garden Club near the Stan Wadlow Community Centre, members of the club decided to save it.

The term rockery refers to a rock garden.

Glen Hutzul, a member of the East York Garden Club and co-ordinator of the rockery, said there are about 45 people that take care of the garden. Hutzul said the city was planning on tearing out the rocks and backfilling the area when the club decided to revitalize the area instead.

“We’re estimating that these rocks today, if we were going to replace them, would probably be close to a quarter of a million dollars, and they were going (to bulldoze) and cover it all up with dirt,” Hutzul said.

Hutzul said the club decided to save the rockery because of the lack of rock gardens in East York.

“There are very few large rock gardens in East York. A huge number of people use this park to walk their dogs and bring their children here,” Hutzul said.

Hutzul also said the club decided to revitalize the rockery as part of an outreach program for local youths.

“We wanted an outreach project. We’re a garden club and we all have our own gardens, most of us do, but we also think we should do something in the community as well. It’s a large park so we do the planting, the weeding and the clean up,” Hutzul said.

Anna Leggatt, program director at the East York Garden Club, said that one of the club’s members had given them the idea of building an outreach program that involves older club members working side-by-side with local youths.

“They were beautiful rocks but they were full of weeds,” Leggatt said. “One of our members said we have to do outreach program,”

Hutzul said the club, as a non-profit, wouldn’t have been able to afford putting the rock garden together without the help of the City of Toronto.

“We couldn’t afford to put this (garden) together because we’re non-profit and our budget is seven or eight thousand a year, so we spend part of our money and the city helps us out with some plants and we brought it back,” Hutzul said.

The rock garden’s proximity to a ravine and the plants planted in the garden have attracted some wildlife.

“We have lots of rabbits, gophers; there’s foxes around here. There are certain plants like a crocus; crocus is a like a cashew to a squirrel. It’s one of their favourite things. Once you get the little critters, you start to get the foxes,” Hutzul said.