November 3, 2016
By Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO Executive Director

In a previous article, Right Tree, Right Place, (July-Aug. 2016), I championed the judicial use of Norway maples and questioned the effectiveness, need for, and challenges related to seed zone policies. As a quick recap: Norway maples have been deemed “invasive” and are now rarely specified as a street or landscape tree, despite the fact they do very well in urban areas. In the case of seed zone policies, I wondered aloud about the philosophy and science behind this forestry-based concept and how it might affect the nursery industry, which is historically based on a diametrically opposite notion of letting plants spread on their own.

My purpose in writing the article was to start a respectful dialogue. I received many positive comments from the nursery industry and many negative responses from the forestry sector. It is obvious the two camps need to talk in order to understand each other’s perspective. We are doing just that at the Growers Fall Dinner Meeting, Nov. 29 at the Teatro Conference Centre in Milton. Senior Ecologist and President of St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre, Allan Arthur, will talk about the science and philosophy of seed zones. A representative from the Ministry of Transportation will review the success of a major highway project planted exclusively with seed zone-sourced plants. Come join us for this stimulating meeting.

One of the negative responses to my article came from my friend, Ken Jewett, founder of a wonderful organization called Maple Leaves Forever. Jewett is a very effective and passionate advocate for the return of native maples. His organization (, encourages growers to increase the supply of native maples and provides financial incentives to those planting native maples. Ken’s work has made an amazing difference. I serve proudly on the Maple Leaves Forever Board and enthusiastically promote the use of native maples. One of the highlights of my career was working with Ken to convince the National Capital Commission to specify native maples on Crown land.

Ken’s concern was that my sentiments about the use of Norway maples would negatively affect the use of all native maples. I am taking this opportunity to clarify my view.

I prefer the use of native maples, even though I believe there is a place for many less invasive Norway maple cultivars — especially in landscape and street tree locations. I regret stating sugar maples are “invasive.” I used that term to describe the fact sugar maples are robust and spread well. All we have to do is look at our magnificent Ontario forests in fall to witness how well sugar maples have done. At the end of Ken’s response he says, “Tony stated that sugar maples are invasive. Give me a break. NOT SO.” I agree with you Ken. I used the wrong word and I look forward to helping you achieve your mission to bring back native maples.

First anniversary for HOH

November marks the first anniversary of the official launch of the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute. The goal of this wonderful project is to plant 117,000 trees along Hwy. 401 from Toronto to Trenton, honouring every fallen Canadian soldier since Confederation. Our very generous membership has contributed resources, labour, equipment, trees and funding to help with the 3,000 trees planted so far. Mark Cullen, Chair of the initiative, provided a fantastic overview of our progress and mentioned the wonderful participation of LO members in a recent Toronto Star article (see

New campaign for donors

HOH have launched a new “Champion” campaign to coincide with Canada’s 150th birthday. For every $150 donation, you will receive a “150Tree Kit” that includes a small tree, official certificate and t-shirt. Share a video or picture of where and why you planted your 150Tree using the hashtag, #150Tree.

Recently, we visited the Minister of Transportation. Steven Del Duca (MPP Vaughan), who enthusiastically became the first Champion. A day later, Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon joined him. I am proud to say that I too became a Champion. For details, visit

Contact Tony DiGiovanni.