XX Wheeler Avenue, Toronto
Lyrical Leaf Publications
Photos courtesy of Merridy Cox
This 8-page booklet is an example of a personalized catalogue of trees growing at a private address in Toronto.
Would you like to know the species of trees on your property? Contact Lyrical Leaf Publications.
This service is available for private property only in the Toronto area.
FRONT OF HOUSE
The Norway maple, native to Europe, has leaves that look very much like the native sugar maple, which is on the Canadian flag. Norway maples are hardy and have been planted extensively around Toronto. They are now considered an invasive alien, as they have spread into ravines and the countryside. As a city tree, they are shady and have lovely spring flowers.
In the fall the leaves turn yellow and may be edged with brown or green.
The seeds of the maple are double helicopter wings, called a samara. In a Norway maple, the two wings of the samara are wide spread. Squirrels like to eat maple keys as the sap is somewhat sweet.
(Prunus virginiana var.)
The lovely cherry tree in the front lawn has a smooth grey trunk and lovely red leaves. This is likely a cultivar related to the native chokecherry tree, perhaps a Schubert cherry. If so, the spring flowers will be held in elongated clusters.
The neighbour’s ash tree leans over the front of the property, shading the garden and the street.
Recently, it has been heavily pruned so that more sunlight reaches the house.
Ash trees are susceptible to insect damage, and this tree has been inoculated by the City of Toronto and given a label on the street side.
Ash have compound leaves with five to nine leaflets.
Ash have narrow samara or winged fruit, somewhat similar to the maple, but hanging together in clumps. They look rather like the shape of a canoe paddle blade.
BACK OF HOUSE
The only tree actually rooted in the back garden in a large lilac with a high canopy.
Lilac are easy to grow and were commonly planted around the dwellings of pioneering families in Ontario. This lilac may have been one of the original plantings after the house was built.
In spring, the flowers have a lovely scent and attract butterflies.
The other trees in the back of the house grow in the neighbours’ yards, but their canopies provide shade and visual interest. They are home to many birds, squirrels and sometimes, raccoons.
Northern White Cedar
The cedar has flat, scaly leaves and small brown cones. It is an evergreen, but loses some leaves every winter. Cedars provide an aromatic, cooling effect in a garden. Cedars are often used as hedge trees, but left alone they can grow very tall.
Cardinals love to nest in cedars, as do English Sparrows. This cedar grows up between the houses and has been used as a road for raccoons to climb onto the neighbour’s roof.
The black alder was imported from Europe. The tree has the ability to pull nitrogen out of the soil, which helps nearby plants to grow. Root nodules contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Alder bark contains the precursor to salicylic acid, or aspirin.
It has leaves similar to elm, sometimes with double teeth along the edge, sometimes with a blunt tip. Native alders grow as scrubby trees along the edges of wetlands. The tree growing across the back fence, however, is over three storeys tall.
The alder grows catkins early in the spring, and these produce fruits that resemble little pinecones.
This alder grows over the back fence of the garden.
The horse chestnut grows along the south side of the garden, just over the fence. It has leaves resembling the spokes of a wheel, with large wedge-shaped leaflets.
The glory of the horse chestnut is the flowers that follow after the new leaves emerge like green hands. The flowers are large and beautiful enough to inspire springtime romance.
In the late summer and early fall, green fruit with tough, spiny spikes grow along the old flower stalks. Squirrels like to cut the chestnut fruits and open them on the ground. The nuts are a brilliant reddish-brown colour with a large, dull grey “eye.”
Young children love to collect and play with chestnuts or “conkers.” There is an expression about jokes that have been heard time and again since childhood: “That’s an old chestnut!”
The Chinese elm was introduced as an ornamental good for creating hedges. Left to grow, however, they get tall. Such is the tree in the garden to the south, which has a high canopy of small leaves. Chinese elm may also be grown as bonsai.
The Chinese elm is resistant to Dutch elm disease, which has decimated the gracious American elms that used to shade our streets and country roads. The leaves of the Chinese elm are much smaller than our American elms.
Elms also have a samara fruit, but the wings encompass the seed in a circle or pie-plate shape.