Get a Free Tree !

Urban Forestry Services plants trees on City owned street allowances fronting residential properties for free.  Periodically, Urban Forestry Services will canvass neighbourhoods for tree planting opportunities.

To order your free tree click here to download our residential street tree planting brochure or call 311

Interested in a tree for your backyard?

Contact LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) which is a local non-profit group dedicated to improving Toronto’s urban forest.  They offer Toronto residents subsidized backyard tree planting.

The service includes on-site advice on appropriate species and planting location, a 1.2 to 1.8m tall native tree, and the planting service.  Native shrubs are also available.

Contact LEAF at 416-413-9244 or on the web at

Dorval  and Edna Gardens

Connect on our Facebook  page – “Dundas West and Dorval Community Gardens and Chelsea Park”

About Railside Gardens

Photos of native plants

Railside Gardens is a native species planting maintained by local volunteers along the east side of Dundas Street West south of Annette, between Humberside Avenue and Glenlake Avenue. It was created to inspire people to grow low-maintenance native plants and shrubs and to support neighbourhood birds, bees, butterflies and insects. Native plants thrive with no fertilizer and require little watering. They are also considered resistant to insect and disease problems. In southern Ontario, some popular native flowers are black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, butterfly milkweed, butterfly bush and asters.

From 2000 to 2004 local residents planted thousands of native shrubs, perennials, grasses and vines along the roadside, where Dundas Street West and the railway lines travel side-by-side. Funds were raised by the West Bend Community Association from TD Friends of the Environment, the EcoAction Community Fund, the Trillium Foundation and the Shell Environmental Fund. The City of Toronto – Parks, Forestry and Recreation provided a watering station, curbstones and free compost and mulch. Volunteers did the rest.

Walk along the pathway on the east side of Dundas between Humberside and Glenlake and see for yourself the diversity and beauty of Ontario’s native plants.

Spring in Railside Gardens

Beginning in May, most people will recognize with pleasure the clusters of White Trilliums opposite Kenneth Ave but they will also see the less familiar “umbrella” of a Mayapple and its low-growing companion Wild Ginger. Here and there Wild Columbine begins to emerge and mounds of sedges put out bright green shoots. In late spring, volunteers prune and remove aggressive weeds, such as garlic mustard, to give the native plants room to spread and remove some of the thick covering of Norway maple leaves.

Summer in Railside Gardens

In early summer, flowering shrubs take the stage. Opposite Jerome Street, Staghorn Sumach, Fragrant Sumach and Silverleaf Buffaloberry create a woodland oasis. At Kenneth and Humberside an American Plum blossoms first followed by Meadowsweet, Ninebark, Serviceberry and Flowering Dogwood. Here and there, native perennials like Lanceleaf Coreopsis and Black-eyed Susan sprinkle colour throughout the garden. In summer, volunteers dig out the dog-strangling vine, quackgrass, bindweed and other invaders from the neighbouring railway lands.

Autumn in Railside Gardens

As the season comes to fruition, grasses like Big Bluestem and Sideoats Grama set seed. Chokeberry shrubs dangle with clusters of purple berries and the many different Asters and Goldenrods go out in a blaze of late summer glory from white to pink to purple and yellow. Bittersweet vines set their yellow-orange berries and Virginia Creeper turns the fences bright red. In fall, volunteers do preventive maintenance, making sure that invading annual weeds are pulled before they can go to seed.

Winter in Railside Gardens

In winter the red “candles” of the sumachs and the seedstalks of the grasses provide seed and fruit for birds and visual interest for people hustling by on the pathway or alighting from the Junction bus at one of the stops. In winter, volunteers rest and keep watch for damage – broken limbs, errant sidewalk plows and all the other hazards of urban life.

How to volunteer

If you would like to help maintain Railside Gardens, please contact the West Bend Community Association at, by email to or leave a message at 647-478-8457.

Usually, new volunteers work with one of the more experienced volunteers to learn about what to keep and what to pull. In early spring, we meet and organize for the spring, summer and fall. Since the roadside space is very tight we normally work weekly in small teams. Timing is flexible and volunteers can work out their own schedules and/or work alone.

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