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The Big

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by May 18th

Did you know?

Oaks support the most caterpillar species of any tree. Since even an only 3-gram black-capped chickadee required 9000 caterpillars within three weeks to bring up one single clutch of babies, the amount of caterpillars a tree feeds is directly linked to bird population health.

Acorns are one of the most sustaining foods for wildlife, from mice to bears.

Blue Jays hide over 100 viable acorns daily for a month, making them the number one planter of oaks.

One Bur Oak or Northern Red Oak sequesters over 3200 kg of CO2, mitigates about 513,000 litres of stormwater, and removes around 77 kg of air pollutants during its life.

Oaks provide great shade in summer and, through transpiration, reduce the City's heat island effect by 5ºC and allow you to enjoy the outdoors even on a hot summer day.

Indigenous peoples all over Turtle Island have maintained beautiful oak savannas for millennia. Brush was cleared through burning, and the oaks were kept around 30 feet apart so that they could develop into majestic trees. Oak savannas were highly productive landscapes for everyone, humans and animals alike. The diversity and numbers of animal species were higher than in non-managed landscapes. This park-like structure allowed grasses and flowering plants to flourish between the oaks. 

Good to know:

  • The oaks are native to Toronto and suited for our urban environment.

  • For the long-term health of a tree, it is much better to plant younger trees than more developed trees since their root system is not damaged from growing in too small pots and becoming root-bound or regularly being cut and severed in the nursery beds. 

  • In nature, trees grow in communities. It would be best to plant groups of at least two to three trees together on a 6-foot center. The tree roots will interlock, giving them great stability, and they will support each other in producing a healthy, resilient environment. 

  • Spring is a good time to plant a tree because trees don't need to deal with the stresses of the summer heat, but since they need to produce leaves and flowers, they need a lot more water to perform these tasks. 

  • It is best to remove the lawn generously around the tree and replace it with some understory trees, shrubs, ground cover, and sedges. This enables a small ecosystem to get to work; insects will complete their lifecycle in the soil because they have a soft landing when they fall off the tree and, therefore, can fulfill their role as a protein-rich food source for other wildlife. Check out the concept of a soft landing on Heather Holm's amazing website.

  • A pollinator garden can alternatively be planted around the tree as long as it is still small and doesn't give much shade.

  • And if you are still not convinced about the wonders of oaks, check out this video by the incredibly inspiring Dough Tallamy

The City of Toronto has the visionary goal of a 40% tree canopy cover by 2050 to become one of the most livable cities in the world. The City has made this event possible by generously providing all trees through a

Community Planting & Stewardship Grant.

You can order two free native trees to plant on your private property within Toronto borders.

Bur Oak

Bur oaks have a vast, open crown. These resilient shade trees thrive in poor soils and can survive up to 400 years.

Their thick bark allows them to survive fires and the wide-spreading roots will enable them to access moisture and survive droughts, which makes bur oaks more tolerant to urban conditions than most species of oaks.

Bur oak acorns are sweet and edible and can be ground into flour or used to make bread. 

A wildlife favourite, they attract birds and squirrels who make their homes in the tree’s branches.

Medium to large​

Height: 60+ ft

​Width: 60+ ft   

Requires full sun

Adapts to moist and dry soil conditions

Northern Red Oak

The red oak is a large, hardy, long-lived shade tree and very tolerant of urban conditions. The attractive leaves often stay on the lower branches during winter. Researchers believe this was a helpful defence mechanism to protect the young twigs from browsing dinosaurs. 

Its gorgeous fall colours make it a prefect tree for all seasons.

The acorns are an essential food source for small mammals and birds like Blue Jays. Older trees often have cavities that provide shelter and nesting sites for birds and mammals. 


Height: 60+ ft

​Width: 60+ ft   

Requires full sun to partial shade

Adapts to moist and dry soil conditions

Prefers acidic soil but can grow in any soil

Place your order

by May 18th

You can bring home a mighty oak!

©2020 by Cliffcrest Butterflyway

All photos are taken in our own gardens, except for landscapes.

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