2022 Greener Greenspace Profile
Located in Mississauga, ON, Blooming Boulevards is a citywide network of hundreds of native plant gardens on municipally-owed residential boulevards.
Design and Process
Blooming Boulevards, a non-profit organization, initiated the project to create hundreds of boulevard gardens to increase pollinator habitat and connectivity across Mississauga. The project has also helped to beautify Mississauga streets and increase neighbourhood connection to nature. Each garden project involves the design, construction, and planting of native plants to create small, densely planted greenspaces rich in food and nesting sites for native pollinators and their ecological community.
The plants selected for the boulevard plantings are drought and salt-tolerant native species locally adapted to withstand the harsh conditions typical of street-side conditions where the soil is often compacted clay. These plants replace the existing vegetation, often non-native turf grass and non-native weeds. Native plants adapted to existing soil and climate conditions don't need added fertilizers, herbicides, or water to thrive. Deep roots penetrate the compacted soils typical of urban boulevards and increase permeability. When the roots die, they decompose, creating healthier conditions for soil microbial activity. The gardens minimize demands on soil and water, protecting the integrity of local ecosystems. To attract a maximum number and variety of wildlife species, the gardens are carefully planned to include species with a succession of bloom times, and year-round habitat provisions, and that have a variety of heights and root depths. As long as the soil contains a sufficient organic component, the plants will thrive.
Blooming Boulevards was initiated by civic-minded residents who wanted to support the environment and build nature connections in the community. The boulevard garden pilot project was launched in 2019, and there are now over 200 individual gardens across the city that link Mississauga’s patchwork of parks and increase greenspace to support plant biodiversity.
The gardens are created, installed, monitored and maintained daily by adjoining property owners, their families, and often their neighbours. Experience has shown that the gardens motivate neighbourhood groups and local residents to establish additional gardens.
Blooming Boulevard trains garden stewards through initial consultation, site selection and site prep guidance. They offer free online workshops on various topics and administer a private Facebook group to share information, tips and advice. The organization also publishes a monthly newsletter and can be reached for one-on-one questions via email anytime.
The local community is educated about the garden program in a number of ways. Blooming Boulevards has an active outreach program, where they do free online and in-person presentations and participate in numerous in-person community events via our information booths. Their webinars have attracted hundreds of people interested in creating native plant garden networks in their own communities.
The boulevard gardens support Mississauga's Living Green Master Plan, Climate Action Plan, Natural Heritage and Urban Forest Strategy, plus other municipal, provincial and national conservation initiatives that mitigate the impact of biodiversity loss. The organization works with others to identify problems and find solutions that will have positive impact. Since commercial growers propagate plants from sources outside their region, the organization grows their own plants. Using species indigenous to the Credit River Watershed helps protect the traits of local genotypes, increasing resilience to climate change. Diverse participants from all over the city volunteer to help gather seeds and propagate plants.
Partnering with regional organizations and participating in the City’s Parks and Forestry programs and events, and networking with key provincial and national organizations such as Pollinator Pathways, the World Wildlife Federation, and the Global Pollinator Collective enables Blooming Boulevards to extend their reach far beyond their own organization.
For more information, visit the Blooming Boulevards website.
Watch a recording of their presentation on SOUL's 2023 Webinar Series on Ecological Land care
Photos c/o Blooming Boulevards
Greener Greenspaces is a recognition program for sites from across Canada that exemplify greener greenspace stewardship. The aim of the program is to showcase examples of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada.See the full list of 2022 recognition recipients here