Last week, Ben took part in a ceremony recognizing the large black walnut in the park behind his house as a “Notable Tree” of Guelph.  The tree is “notable” for pre-dating the park where it resides, and likely all the homes in the surrounding neighbourhood. It is believed to be more than 150 years old. Given time and space, it has a presence that even “non-tree people” can stop and recognize.  

It is also notable because it is not the only black walnut in the neighbourhood. In fact, you could say that the park and surrounding streets are characterized by black walnuts. While the notable tree is by far the biggest and oldest, it is not a stretch to imagine that it is the Mother Tree to many of those nearby. It is also only one stop for the insects, birds, and many squirrels that bound from tree-to-tree in a neighbourhood spoiled with rich canopy.  

Guelph Urban Forest Friends (“GUFF”) is the community group that organizes the annual Notable Tree Award in partnership with Nature Guelph. What the award accomplishes, aside from bringing worthy recognition to the handful of notable trees, is the attention it brings to the city’s tree canopy overall. Like so many things in gardening and in nature, something small becomes something bigger. Naturally, the exercise of nominating one tree forces the nominator to consider all the trees. GUFF’s mission is really about the tree canopy, and focusing in on individual trees is just one way to advance the broader cause. 


Zoom in, zoom out, zoom in again. Understanding and appreciating natural treasures requires a good set of bi-focals. 


So it is with this “lens” that we are looking at the balance of the gardening season. Stopping to take note of notable plants and specimens that grab our attention, and stopping a moment more to consider those individuals are part of their communities.

It’s all a matter of perspective.  

With thanks to GUFF, Nature Guelph, and the community citizens who care for the trees.  

Mark with the oldest tree in Toronto. Humberview Red Oak.

Photo credit: Richard Lautens

If you know a tree that deserves special attention and/or protection, consider nominating it as a designated “heritage tree”. 

There are many communities across Canada with Heritage Tree programs. We've compiled a shortlist to get you started:

Surrey, BC

BC Big Tree

Heritage tree foundation, Alberta

Moosejaw Tree of Significance

Manitoba Heritage Tree program

Barrie, ON

Whitby, ON

If you know an organization accepting nominations for Heritage trees in Canada, please let us know:

Mark and Ben Cullen

Merchants of Beans and Beauty

Ben has been busy with ANOTHER project: restoring wetland on his farm in Flesherton, Ontario. We mentioned this in our May newsletter.

This is a wonderful story that makes his family proud of his active commitment to improving our environment. We hope you enjoy it!  

Read the story


"Dead head" (or cut off) spent flowers, such as peonies that are all partied-out from their wild show late-June. Cleaning up fallen petals not only looks better, it prevents moisture and disease from propagating at the base of your plants.

Removing spent lilac blooms will help them bloom more prolifically next year.

Prune evergreens, especially cedars and cedar hedges. Now is the time. Yews and other evergreens also.

Watering: if it is hot and dry in your region, be mindful of watering your garden. Here are our rules of thumb:

    1. If it is beginning to weep/droop water it deeply.

    2. If the soil is dry down to the second knuckle of your index finger, water it deeply.

Keep bird baths and water ponds clean and topped up.

Cut your lawn high, at least 8 cm, to build up drought resistance. The taller you cut the lawn, the tougher it is to survive and thrive.

Clean your hummingbird feeders and hang them out. A clean feeder is essential for the health of these remarkable birds.



Our friend, Jody Allair has been contributing to our monthly newsletter for more than 6 years. We appreciate his dedication to sharing his knowledge and experience with all of us.

Today, we congratulate Jody on 20 years working with Birds Canada.

Read the full story here.

Thank You, Jody!

Jody Allair

Director, Community Engagement

Birds Canada

Connect with Jody on Twitter and Instagram at: @JodyAllair

Harrowsmith’s FEATURE RECIPE

How to Make Real Ketchup

If you are going to go to the trouble of making a great burger or hand-cut fries, why not let your ketchup rise to the occasion.

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