Even though the current weather conditions might not suggest it, winter has passed and spring has officially sprung with Wednesday marking the spring equinox. OurWindsor’s Jon Liedtke spoke with the City of Windsor parks and recreation department and a senior horticulturalist to find out what it takes to make to transition the city’s parks from winter to spring.
“The gardeners will be getting out into the gardens as soon as possible to clean up any type of litter and mulch off the beds. They are currently working very hard in the greenhouses because [they] are absolutely packed with plants that will be transferred into all of the parks,” explained Pat Lewis of parks and recreation.
The city maintains one central greenhouse facility located in Lanspeary Park which houses eight individual greenhouses that during the winter months grow all of the plants for city parks.
“There’s a lot of preparing to get ready for the city to be beautiful,” explained Wanda Letourneau, the supervisor of horticulture at parks and facilities who manages eighteen gardening staff. “What we have been doing throughout fall of last year [was] we brought in plant material, allowed that material to grow throughout the winter months, and as they grew we took cuttings, put them in sand benches. We developed them and now we’re just lining our benches and waiting for them to grow so we can prepare them and send them outside,”
“We’ve also been getting some seed and we’ve been taking the seed and germinating it throughout the months and also once they grow, we put them into packs and let them go,” said Letourneau.
Letourneau oversees the growing of over one hundred different perennials which are prepared for the annual Paul Martin perennial sale as well as over one hundred other varieties of plants as well.
“What we do is specialize in our plants … we have to propagate [growth beds] for them to grow from year to year because we can’t get them anymore,” said Letourneau.
The process begins in September because the majority of the plants cannot be over-wintered. Throughout the winter, Letourneau’s group selects plants the city wants to grow for the coming season and plans how much they’ll need.
A large amount of the plants grown for municipal parks have been in the city’s roster for over thirty years and have been generated through cuttings.
Letourneau explained that the city tries to present a topical environment’s selection of plants. “We keep everything in here big and blooming in the winter time, which allows them to go out in good sizes and it gives you that cool tropical feeling,” he explained.
Other ongoing projects to prepare parks and facilities for the transition from winter to spring includes ensuring picnic tables and benches are up to code, cleaning and preparing outdoor pools for summer, training new staff, and ensuring trails are clear and without potholes.
“We’re working on a new trails map with transportation planning and public works and parks and that will show all the new trails that have gone in, including a reference to the waterfront trail which is the one that links all the way from Quebec to Ontario,” said Lewis. Watch for those developments in the coming weeks.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.