Greening up a big city like Barrie is no small task.
When the warm weather arrives and neighbourhoods begin to transform, many city flower beds will be blooming with plants originally begun as seeds during the coldest time of winter.
Now they’re sprouting at the city’s operations centre greenhouses on Ferndale Drive North, ready to pretty up parks, gardens and streetscapes.
While some towns have to bring in truckloads of plants for the job, that’s not the case here in Barrie, says Mona Boyd, the city’s horticultural foreperson.
“We are so blessed to have our own municipal greenhouses,” she tells BarrieToday. “A lot of municipalities don’t have that opportunity. But it is labour intensive and a lot of work. There’s a lot of green space out there.”
‘Out there’ is outside the cozy glass confines of the greenhouse, a comforting place with a scent of moist air and damp earth that makes you think of summer.
“The seeds for this coming season would’ve been started in the second week of February,” says Boyd. “Everything has a different schedule depending on the various crops we’re going to be having that season. And the timing always has to be right because you don’t want things growing too quickly. We get a lot of sun as we get closer to planting time.”
With more than 120 parks scattered across the city containing trees and shrubs, horticultural displays, ornamental grasses, perennials, multiple annuals and floral displays along boulevards and in planters, there is plenty to prepare for.
City staff aren’t the only one’s making Barrie beautiful, says Boyd.
“With our adopt-a-bed program, in some of the little pockets of the cul-de-sacs the neighbours there adopt a flower bed, plant it and maintain it and water it. There’s colour in every corner,” she says.
Nowhere more so than along Kempenfelt Bay.
“There’s nothing nicer than a stroll along the waterfront,” Boyd says. “It can be very therapeutic for some and a learning opportunity as well with the Barrie Waterfront Heritage Trail.
“We like to think of our plant and garden displays throughout the community as welcoming mats for visitors and residents alike,” she adds. “I love the downtown, I love the waterfront and the arboretum. To be honest, I think of our entire community as one whole garden. Throughout the community there are little pockets of colour that pop up.
“And some of Barrie’s older communities also have some beautiful gardens,” Boyd adds. “Some of the residents go above and beyond with their creative ideas with their own properties that also help us to beautify the city.”