- Joe Fiorito's The Toronto Star- GTA article-, Metro Diary
- Oct. 21, 2005 With a little pluck, gardener gets her irises
on Carol Sutton and the Joel Weeks Parkette, located on Carroll St/ Thompson
St. , Riverside area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
- Here is the links to Joe
Fiorito's articles: (http://www.thestar.com/comment/columnists/94546)
- QUOTE: "With a little pluck, gardener gets her
- JOE FIORITO
- Carol Sutton cut some thin,
pink, salty slices from the last of
- a Smithfield ham and made a sandwich. She laid a slab of buttermilk
- cake on a second small plate, and poured a strong cup of coffee. Outside
- kitchen window, she could see that the vines along the fence by the
- basketball court were turning rusty red.
- Carol planted those vines.
- She also planted some of
the trees and most of the flowers in
- and around Joel Weeks Parkette.
- She has been tending the
little patch of green for the past 30
- years. She does this in memory of Joel Weeks, a boy who drowned near
- Mount Court many years ago. Every spring, she buys more plants and
- supplies, and all year long she tends what she has planted.
- There is some self-interest
in her altruism. Carol lives next to
- the basketball court, and she walks past the park with some frequency.
- vines, trees and flowers lend beauty to the neighbourhood.
- We all should be so self-interested.
- Recently, Carol looked out
her kitchen window and saw a flock of
- starlings disappear into the vines, and for a moment it was as if the
- had grown wings. The birds were hungry and had come on some sudden
- strip the vines of their ripe berries.
- Recently, someone came along
and just as suddenly stripped
- Carol's irises from the bed where she had planted them.
- Her husband said he'd seen
some parks workers nearby, and he'd
- noticed irises in the back of their truck, but he thought they were
- Carol was shocked to see
the holes in the earth where her
- flowers had been. Missing were several rare species - native flag,
- especially tall, some pale violet, some dark violet and some white
- touch of purple - and also many yellow bearded irises.
- The irises, so lively and
lovely; who would steal them? Surely
- not city workers.
- For years, Carol has had
a tacit agreement with parks staff.
- They know she plants the flowers and tends the garden, and they have
- her they admire her work and are grateful for what she does.
- And if they do not always
respond to her requests for additional
- trees, or more plants, or just a bit of leftover mulch, they know that
- she does is a help and a blessing.
- The next time she saw a parks
truck, she walked over and asked
- the men some questions. They seemed sheepish. She learned that her
- had been transplanted in another park.
- She was speechless.
- Carol is not one of your
stealth gardeners, those so-called
- guerrillas who plant flowers with cheek and whimsy in public places
- the city. She does her work proudly, and in the open, and with a generous
- heart. She would gladly have divided the plants if only she had been
- Here is where insult compounds
- She learned that her irises
- you can't buy them in the store;
- she got them from her mother-in-law years ago - had been replanted
- John Chang Park.
- Oh, good grief.
- John Suk-Soo Chang was born
in Korea. He was a community
- activist and a beloved figure in South Riverdale. He had trained as
- landscape architect, and he was a self-taught naturalist who loved
- John Chang Park is a little
gem with benches, flowers, grasses,
- a winding walkway, some delicate wrought iron adornments, and several
- and carefully laid decorative stones. The stones are marked with symbolic
- words: Diversity. Harmony. Spirit. Compassion. Family. Awareness.
- Carol's irises - a dozen
clumps of them - had been transplanted
- near a large stone bearing the word "Journey." That's some
- little Joel Weeks to John Suk-Soo Chang.
- I guess the parks workers
had an "Awareness" of how nice Carol's
- flowers would look in the newer, nicer, bigger park. I guess they thought
- the irises would add some "Diversity." I guess they did not
- Carol called parks staff,
seeking an explanation. She got no
- response. She sent letters to various supervisors and city officials.
- got no response.
- She does not quit easily.
- After some dogged work, she
eventually learned that a parks
- worker, unfamiliar with the history of Joel Weeks Parkette, and unaware
- the provenance of the irises, had done the digging.
- I had a note from Carol the
other day. The Smithfield ham is
- gone. She will order another for Christmas. There are no more berries
- Virginia creeper by the basketball court. And the irises are back.
- Workers replaced them early
in the morning a couple of days ago.
- I have a hunch John Chang
and Joel Weeks are smiling.
- Carol, too." END QUOTE
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- BEFORE: IRIS BED IN August, 2005