The Garden Club of Toronto promised to tell you about some of the plants that will be part of your new gardens. So, let’s begin with a showstopper: the Eastern red bud (Cercis canadensis). You’ve probably already seen its beauty in spring, filled with bright pink flowers. It’s easily mistaken for crab apple, flowering dogwood or chokecherry trees. While it’s similar, once you see the saturated colour of the blossoms, you’ll know the difference. It also has a distinctive lipped flower shape. By summer, the heart-shaped leaves and pea-shaped seed pods will be a dead give-away. This ornamental tree is spectacular…and you’re getting not one, but two of them!
The Eastern red bud isn’t only beautiful – it serves a very important function. Early in spring, there are certain species of bees that must feed. These trees, filled with nectar and pollen, provide food for over a dozen types of bees. When summer comes, it provides leafy nesting material for yet another type of bee. The red bud’s abundant food and shelter make it a treasured friend of our pollinator heroes!
This tree is so important to first spring pollinators, that the Eastern red bud is being studied by researchers at the University of Toronto. Red buds bloom at different times, depending on the micro climate of the area of the city. Studying bees that visit the red buds, the scientists learn about how climate change and urbanization affect the spring bees. You may have even seen traps or nesting boxes when you pass a red bud in Toronto, as they’re part of the study. Even better, the researchers have recruited citizen scientists, people like us, to help them monitor the flowering stages of a red bud. Who knows, maybe some of the Met members will want to help out. Here’s the link to get more information about becoming a citizen scientist for this great project: https://urbanredbud.wixsite.com/citsci
Or maybe you just want to enjoy the red bud show. You’ll witness, right outside the church doors, the spectacular flowers welcoming their important bee guests. And what a lovely welcome to spring it will be.