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How We Live In Cities launches Spot Gardens, as first steps towards the creation of Garden Corridor for a Garden City . The project offers opportunities to participate using tools that inform and engage through art and materials that create gardens. Provided resources, workshops and event advance idea gardens and work to encourage the removal of sections of grass, cement or asphalt from residential front yards, publicly sited commercial or orphaned civic spaces and then replant with low maintenance, drought resistant, bee-friendly plants, vegetables, flowers, shrubs or trees. The Spot Gardens become linked together to form a garden corridor as a progressive step for imagining a Garden City.

Gardens are a way to lower city carbon footprints while improving the experience of living in cities. Gardens help mediate summer heat, water run-off, provide bee and wildlife habitat, enhance urban appearances and provide healthy, self-directed exercise. Collecting spot garden sites into corridors can link civic, public and commercial space into Walk Here routes that encourage people to walk to work, schools, parks and shops. Walking enables stronger civic engagement; it enables people to live where they live, while fostering better health and mindset.







Asphalt garden plans thank you to: Guy Walter, Urban Surface


Send your short garden quote; advice or encouragement and we will publish it. See our examples as follows. Send quote to HowWeLiveInCities@gmail.com

MAKING A SPOT GARDEN? Link your garden progress by tagging posts with #spotgardens  #HowWeLiveInCities @CivicStudiesCA

HAVE A GARDEN IMAGE? Post your garden-making and favourite garden pictures with #HowWeLiveInCities #spotgardens


Share your garden wisdom… Jutta Mason If you plant a vegetable garden it will tell you what to make for dinner. Zoe Ryerson Heaven is a place on earth. Selim Berbatovci The roots of life in the hands of our own. Richard Mongiat Gardens are where order and chaos hold hands. Dougal Bichan Garden is a verb. Tim Grant Gardens teach us that change is possible. Ashley Johnson Growing things accentuates empathy for environmental interdependence. Kathryn Bemrose Gardening keeps your mind clean, and your knees dirty. Marjolein Winterink In a garden, you can watch generations of life live and grow in the same patch of earth. Guy Walter No matter how small the garden, nurture it and you will get a closer understanding to how the environment works. Richard Rhodes What lingers into winter are the summer Lindens draping blue shadows over the seed grass soccer field at Emerson Wallace Park. Michela Sutter We should learn from urban plants: their perseverance is unmatched. Helen Posno Beneath this punishing ice spring yawns. Deenna Sigel A garden grows each day of each season. Take the time to feel the joy & beauty. Jim Melvin Soil your hands in the garden and reap your soils favours. Margaret Atwood Gardening is not a rational act. Linda Carter Talk to your plants – they make great friends.  Claude Monet My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. Cicero If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Abraham Lincoln We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.  Audrey Hepburn To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. Vincent van Gogh If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. Frank Lloyd Wright Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Author Unknown Bloom where you are planted. Albert Einstein Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better. Author Unknown
 Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. Robert Harbison Gardens always mean something else, man absolutely uses one thing to say another. Robert Brault Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden. Leonardo da Vinci We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot. Chinese Proverb Life begins the day you start a garden. Leonard Nimoy A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Carla Garnet My urban garden blooms with crocus, hyacinth, daffodil, tulip, iris, lily of the valley, tiger lily, periwinkle, mint, shasta daisy, black eyed susan, coneflower, bee balm, butterfly bush, lilac, spiraea thunbergii and japonica, trumpet vine, sage, hosta, foxglove, lupine, current, rose and chrysanthemum annually, providing bugs, bees, birds, squirrels, coons and skunk nourishment, refuge and beauty and me, a little sanity. Darren Christopher if you don’t plant it, it won’t grow. Dyan Marie Change the world one complaint at a time, save the world one garden at a time #spotgardens.



Fingernails evolved as a way to hold earth close to the body. Compacted dirt beneath the figure nail provides sustained touch with health giving bacteria and microbes found in soil.

A Strain Of Bacterium In Soil Has Been Found To Trigger The Release Of Seratonin, Which In Turn Elevates Mood And Decreases Anxiety

Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People

There’s Something About Literally Putting Your Hands In The Dirt, Digging And Actually Creating Something That’s Really Beautiful



Each plant has a unique method for seed dispersal and each seed’s architecture is fascinatingly different. Please enjoy looking closely at flowers as they transform into seed – a magnifying glass can help. Notice a single flower can produce hundreds of seed. A dandelion can makes between 40 and 60 seeds, a milkweed pod contains an average of 250 seeds while a Ragwart plant can make up to 12,000 seeds. Spot Garden kits contain a variety of flower and plant seeds to examine.

Collect and open up a spent fall flower to find its seeds. Soak seeds in spring under a wet paper towel and watch for germination, transplant into soil after they begin to grow.

Growing Flowers
Turn soil, rake smooth, sow seeds directly in the garden after the last frost to early summer. Keep the seed bed moist until the seeds begin to sprout, then thin, if needed, when seedlings are a couple of inches tall.

Pollinating insects distinguish electric signals given out by flowers.

What Plants Talk About


Seed, 12×12, inches, archival paper size 15×15 inches.
Courtesy of Dyan Marie











Bee Friendly Gardening



List of Bee Friendly Plants

Native perennials
• Common and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca and incarnata)
• Beardtongue (Penstemon)
• Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricatus)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
• Beebalm (Monarda spp)
• Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
• Evening Primrose (Oenothera spp)
• False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium)
• New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae angliae)
• Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)
• Sunflowers (Helianthus)
• Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

• Alyssum
• California Poppy
• China Aster
• Cornflower
• Cleome
• Cosmos
• Heliotrope
• Love in a Mist
• Pot marigold (Calendula)
• Marigold
• Sunflower
• Sweet Pea
• Zinnia
• Herbs
• Borage, Chives, Lavender, Oregano and Marjoram

• Catmint (Nepeta spp.)
• Coneflower
• Clover
• Flax
• Primrose
• Sedum /Stonecrop
• Tickseed
• Yarrow

Trees and Shrubs
• Crab Apples
• Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
• Hawthorn (Crataegus)
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Yellow wood (Cladastris lutea)
• Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
• Sugar, Red, Silver and Striped maples (Acer saccharum, A. rubrum, A. saccarhinum and A. pennsylvanicum)
• Amur maple (Acer ginnala)
• Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)
• Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
• Basswood (Tilia Americana)
• Linden (Tilia cordata)
• Catalpa (Catalpa bignonoides)
• Pussy Willow (Salix spp)
• Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp)
• Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
• Mockorange (Philadelphus coronarius)
• Deutzia
• Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
• False Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia)
• Raspberries
• Blueberries
• Snowberry (Sympharicarpos alba)
• Caragana or peashrub (Caragana arborescens)
• Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
• Japanese Lilac (Syringa reticulata)
• Privet
• Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
• Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)
• Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)

List of Bird Friendly Plants

Early Mid-season Late
Blueberry Blackberry Aster (perennial)
Cotoneaster Cat mint Beggar’s tricks
Crabapple Catnip Borage
Cranberry Chives Coneflower
Crocus Dahlia Cornflower
Foxglove Hyssop Cosmos
Heliotrope Lavender Goldenrod
Hazelnut Raspberry Pumpkin
Heather Sunflower Sedum
Primrose Yarrow Squash


This list includes only a few of the many available plants. Check out the resources listed below, talk to your local nursery or visit the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and its web site. Notes for each plant are a guide only. Some plants will grow in less than ideal conditions, but fruit and seeds may be limited. Information after each plant indicates average height (not given for herbaceous plants), light, and soil requirements.

Light: Sh = shade, Su = su
Soil: W = wet, M = moist, D = dry

Fruit-bearing shrubs and trees
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) to 22 m [Su-Sh, D,M]
Chokecherry (P. virginiana) 2-3 m [Su-part Sh, M,D]
Common or Canadian Elder (Sambucus canadensis) to 3 m [Su, M,D]
Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) to 12 m [Su-Sh, D,M]
Flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus) 1-2 m [Su-Sh, M]
Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) to 12 m [Su, D,M]
Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) to 12 m [Sh, M,D]
Red-berried Elder (Sambucus pubens) to 4 m [Sh, D]
Red Osier Dogwood (C. stolonifera) 1-3 m [Sh, M]
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) to 6 m [Su-Sh, M,D] (spreads quickly, keep in check by pruning)
Pin Cherry (P. pensylvanica) to 12 m [Su, D,M]

Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) [Su-part Sh]. Need both male and female plants for fruit.
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus vitacea and P. quinquefolia) [Sh-Su, 5 m +]
Wild Grape (Vitis riparia) [prefers sun, 5 m +]

Seed and nut-bearing shrubs and trees
Birch, Paper (Betula papyrifera) to 25 m [Su, M,D]
Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) to 15 m [Sh-Su, M,D]
Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta) 3-4 m [Sh-su, M,D]
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) to 25 m [Su-part Sh, M]
Sugar Maple (A. saccharum) to 35 m [Sh-Su, M]
Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) to 20 m [Su, D,M]
White Pine (P. strobus) to 30 m [Su, D]

Herbaceous plants (unless noted, the following provide seeds for birds)
Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) [Su,Sh, D] Nectar
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) [Su, D] Nectar
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) [Su, D,M]
Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) [Su, D]
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) [Su, D,M] Nectar
Gray-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) [Su, D]
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) [Su-Sh, M] Nectar
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) [Su, D,M]
Panic Grass (Panicum sp.) [Su, D]
Phlox (Phlox spp.) [Su, M] Nectar
Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) [Su, D]
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) [Su, D]

Attracting birds to your garden

  • Trees – Mountain Ash, Shubert Chokecherry, Birch, Crab Apple and Hawthorn
  • Smaller Shrubs– Serviceberry, Highbush Cranberry, Quince, female Winterberry, Pagoda and Gray Dogwood, Russian Olive, Honeysuckle, Elder and Sumac
  • Vines– Boston Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Wild Grape and American Bittersweet
  • Annuals– Sunflowers, Cosmos, Zinnias, Marigolds and Celosia
  • Perennials – Globe Thistle, Black-eyed Susan, Asters and Ornamental Grasses in the winter garden are valuable seed sources during a long, cold winter.
  • Berriesfrom – Fairview, Iowa, and Spartan Juniper, female Holly, Oregon Grape, and Wintergreen.
  • Some birds love Sweet Cherries and Blueberries so be prepared to cover your fruit with black netting if you hope to harvest any for yourself!

Front Yard Edible Gardens article


Research assistance thank you to: Simone Weir


BIG on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture | Junction Summer Solstice Festival
Background research for Spot Gardens was collected throughout the summer 2016 in west end neighbourhoods and at the BIG on Bloor Festival of Art and Culture and the Junction Summer Solstice Festival both 2016 . The related Green Asset map was published in November 2016 at civicstudies.ca/greenassetmap/.

Friends of the Visual Arts
Studio presentation and workshop for the Friends of the Visual Arts, November 17, 2016, Studio 9A. www.tfva.ca

Urban Land Institute
How We Live In Cities’s, Spot Gardens, in partnership with Junction Triangle Rail Committee, community advisory presentation to ULI,  Bloor-Dundas Study Launch, November 19, 2016. toronto.uli.org

Canadian Urban Institute
Canadian Urban Institute Annual Urban Leadership Award hosts the launch of Spot Gardens. The Great Hall, 1087 Queen Street West, November 21st , 2016, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM . canurb.org/2016-urban- leadership-awards/

Yearly celebration of woman in the arts established in 1990. 14 woman stand in for the 14 missing to commemorate the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. Dyan Marie presents Spot Gardens through poetry and the Garden Tool Kit. Secret Handshake Gallery,
Dec. 6, 2016, 170 Baldwin, 7:00.

BIG: Bloor Improvement Group
BIG community meeting with Spot Garden introductory information.
Dec 7, 2016, New Horizons Tower, 6:30.

Corridor Collective Art Gardens
Opening Reception: Thursday May 18th, 2017, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
All welcome
Date: May 18 to July 15, 2017
Location: Re-Imagine Galleria, Community Collaboration Space
Galleria Mall, 1245 Dupont Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 2A6
How We Live In Cities – with artists DAVID ACHESON, CATHERINE BEAUDETTEJOHN DICKSON, ELDON GARNET, NOEL HARDING, DYAN MARIE, HEATHER NICOLREINHARD REITZENSTEIN, TIME AND DESIRE and others – presents art for gardens and initiates Wallace Emerson Park Place as the starting point of an art garden corridor.
Drop In! Participate! Free!
Discover art and be encouraged to make gardens. Hands-on, garden-making resources are available to create Spot Gardens with seeds, tools, information and events. 
More information www.civicstudies.ca/corridor-collective

Big on Bloor Festival of Arts and Culture
Spot Garden Pavilion, July22/23, 2017. bigonbloorfestival.com


The Spot Project start-up is made possible with financial support from:
TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
If you are interested in donating time, materials or funds please contact: HowWeLiveInCities@gmail.com

Spot Gardens start-up is operating under the charitable organization umbrella of the Centre for Local Research Into Public Space (CELOS)

Download PDF Booklet

More information contact: dyan@dyanmarie.com / 647.973.2349