The Crown Point Garden Club’s first project was to make a garden on the pipeline trail. Public gardens are a key part of the Pipeline Trail Master Plan, the result of a citizen-led effort that pushed the city to invest in the neglected greenspace atop the 1850s-era water pipe that runs from the Woodward Pumping Station to a reservoir on the escarpment near Gage Park.
This 700 sq. ft. garden is located on the western end of the Pipeline Trail between Edgemont and Park Row. The nearest east-west street is Dunsmure.
A collaborative project involving Environment Hamilton, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, the Crown Point Garden Club, and Pipeline Trail volunteers, the garden is part of Hamilton’s Pollinator Paradise network. It was planted in June 2015 on 100in1Day with financial support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Hamilton Future Fund, Hamilton Community Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment, and the City of Hamilton. Planting day involved dozens of volunteers from not only the Crown Point Garden Club but also the surrounding neighbourhood.
The original planting comprised 21 species. At the most recent inventory (October 2021–see list below) that number doubled. Most of the 43 species are native to this region, with several near-natives and a few well-behaved non-natives. As gardeners learned more about the soil, sun, and water conditions at the site, plantings were edited, increased, and rearranged. The Pipeline Pollinator Paradise not only offers the public an up-close look at native plants in a naturalized setting, it provides the volunteer gardeners with hands-on experience growing plants that may be unfamiliar.
Nepeta ‘Blue Carpet’
Phlox divaricata (pink cultivar)
Vernonia gigantea (sp?)
The soil proved a challenge right from the start. Removing the existing sod in the spring of 2015, volunteers discovered that the existing clay was too compacted to dig by hand. It took a powerful sod-cutter to get the beds ready for planting. Plants were small–plugs and small pots– and their survival, even with several inches of woodchip mulch, was in doubt. Happily, most did survive. And the mere act of getting roots established in the clay has done wonders for the soil. The garden ino longer receives routine additions of mulch or compost. And, although there is less need for supplemental irrigation, plants do receive water in times of extreme drought thanks to generous neighbours who allow gardeners to attach a hose to their outdoor spigots.
In 2017, the first garden sign (listing funders and supporters) disappeared. The next year, theives made off with the large colourful sign donated by the Hamilton Naturalists Club. There are plans to re-install a sign in 2022.
Garden maintenance is done informally, with weeding/watering bees called as necessary. Weeding is done within a few days after a rain, when the ground is soft. The Carolina Rose has an aggressive root system which needs regular attention. During first few years, before the plants filled in, regular weeding kept the burdock, dandelion, nettle and creeping charlie in check. Creeping charlie is the most tenaceous and continues to require vigilance. Otherwise, weeds are not a big problem. Occasional pruning of the ninebark and elderberry are necessary. Undesirable trees that grow against the fence on the north side (boxelder, mulberry) must be cut back regularly, usually the gardeners with hand saws and loppers.
As the grasses in the path-side border reached their full stature, it became clear that the “book version” of mature height wasn’t quite accurate. Keeping the front ranks of plants from obscuring the view of the center of the garden has required some editing and has provided new opportunities to introduce some new species. The garden has been a learning lab for all involved.
Two public events have been held at the garden, both part of National Garden Days celebrations. In June 2018, the club organized a walking tour of the five public gardens it maintains. In June 2019, the club hosted “Click With Your Garden”, a drop-in workshop for gardeners wanting to take better photographs. With local professional photographer Chris White as tutor and the Pipeline Pollinator Paradise as a “model”, a dozen neighbours participated.
The garden has been a stop on the club’s annual “Garden Crawl”– a cross between a garden tour and pub crawl. In 2016 and 2017, the garden was on the route of the “Pipeline Parade”, a human-powered celebration of the Crown Point Community and the plans to re-imagine the trail.
Another garden tour is planned for the summer of 2022.