Joe Fiorito's The Toronto Star- GTA article-, Metro Diary
Oct. 21, 2005 With a little pluck, gardener gets her irises back
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: (
QUOTE: "With a little pluck, gardener gets her irises back


           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 pound
cake on a second small plate, and poured a strong cup of coffee. Outside her
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 Don
Mount Court many years ago. Every spring, she buys more plants and garden
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. The
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 vines
had grown wings. The birds were hungry and had come on some sudden signal to
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 with a
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 told
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 what
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 irises
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 around
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 asked.
            Here is where insult compounds injury.
            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 in nearby
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 a
landscape architect, and he was a self-taught naturalist who loved the
            John Chang Park is a little gem with benches, flowers, grasses,
a winding walkway, some delicate wrought iron adornments, and several large
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 journey, from
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 think.
            Carol called parks staff, seeking an explanation. She got no
response. She sent letters to various supervisors and city officials. She
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 of
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 on the
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

BEFORE: IRIS BED IN August, 2005
iris-joel-weeks5/29/07.jpg�- Carol Sutton
Joel Weeks Parkette
Photographer: Carol Sutton©
Joel Weeks Parkette sign, Iris bed planted and cared for over the last 20 years by Carol Sutton
place: Carrroll Street , at Queen East and Broadview area, opposite Don Mount Court TCHC housing.
date: June 2005, iris bloom time-
( All species iris: yellow flag- brown falls irises; a gift from Lyle Fauteux of Hamilton, lilac, and pale purple, white and purple picata. Black tulips; that started with about 20 iris and I divided and multiplied over the following years. )
August 9, 2005

iris-taken-joel-weeks-10-11-2005.jpg-Carol Sutton
Sub: Joel Weeks Parkette
Sad looking Joel Weeks Parkette Iris Bed after stripped of its iris which were taken to John Chung Park. Then Joe wrote an article; "With a little pluck, gardener gets her irises back" by Joe Fiorito,
THE TORONTO STAR Oct 21 2005, and city returns my irises.
Date of photo: Oct 11, 2005
Photographer: Carol Sutton©

& 2 years later the bed looks like it used to:
iris-joel-weeks5/29/07.jpg- Carol Sutton
Joel Weeks Parkette
iris/ tulip bed, Spring 2007- Replanted and reset into position again in 2006 by Carol
Species iris in full bloom; all planted and cared for by: Ambassador Gardener Carol Sutton
Location - park bounded by: Thompson Street / Carroll Street/ Matilda Street, Toronto, ON
May 12, 2007

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