Green Mansions of Saskatoon

“I became intoxicated with the beauty all around me, immersed in the joyousness and exultation of feeling part of it all….I had entered the temple of the woods. “Richard St. Barbe Baker.

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The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

  The afforestation area formerly named George Genereux Park

We are growing to love the trees and forests as we turn more and more to outdoor life for recreation and sport, and finding them truly irreplaceable. In our ramblings along shady streets, through grassy parks, over wooded valleys, and in prairie wildernesses we find that much more than formerly we are asking ourselves what are these trees, what are the leaf, flower, twig, wood and habit characteristics which distinguish them from other trees; how large do they grow; under what conditions of soil and climate do they thrive best; what are their enemies and how can they be overcome; what is their protective value; are they useful for planting along streets and in parks and in regenerating forests; how can the trees of our afforestation area,  streets and lawns be preserved and repaired as they begin to fail from old age or other causes?

Trembling Aspen grove Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Trembling Aspen grove Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

In view of the growing taste for rural life, and of the multiplication of country residences in all parts of the province, especially in the vicinity of the cities and of the larger towns, this article will make a special feature of discussing the planning and planting of the afforestation areas of Saskatoon ~ The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the afforestation area formerly named George Genereux Park.. Historically, the City of Saskatoon parks department under the guidance of Bert Wellman, in their endeavor to assist the city in its desire to make the urban surroundings attractive and artistic.

Study of the flowering plants or Phanerogamia of the botanist. This classification includes:

  • Gymnosperms (Naked Seeds.)
    • Cycadaceae. (Palms, Ferns, etc.)
    • Gnetaceae. (Joint firs)
    • Conifers. Pines, first, etc.
  • Angiosperms (Fruits.)
    • Monocotyledons. (One seed-leaf.) (Palms, bamboos, grasses, etc.)
    • Dicotyledons. (Two seed -leaves.)
      • Herbs.
      • Broad-leaved trees.

Of fruit-bearing trees (angiosperms), there are two classes, those that have one seed-leaf as they germinate, and those that have two seed-leaves. are the needle-leaved trees or the conifers, including such trees as the pines, cedars, spruces, firs, etc. Under the fruit-bearing trees (angiosperms), are those that have two seed-leaves (the dicotyledons) and include the great mass of broad-leaved or deciduous trees such as chestnut, oak, ash and maple.

“Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your Teacher.”
—Wordsworth.

Exploring classifications, even further, they may be quite inaccurate etymologically speaking. Many of the so-called deciduous (Latin, deciduus, falling off) trees are actually evergreen, such those of other locales holly, live oak, magnolia and cherry. So, too, some of the alleged “evergreens,” like bald cypress and the tamarack or larch shed their leaves annually.

“I became intoxicated with the beauty all around me, immersed in the joyousness and exultation of feeling part of it all….I had entered the temple of the woods. “Richard St. Barbe Baker.

The pines belong to the coniferous class of trees; that is, trees which bear cones. The pines may be told from the other coniferous trees by their leaves, which are in the form of needles two inches or more in length. These needles keep green throughout the entire year. To classify pines one from the other examine the pine needl clusters. In the white pine there are five needles to each cluster, in the pitch pine three, and in the Scotch pine two. The Scotch pine needles are short compared with those of the white pine, and slightly twisted. The bark, especially along the upper portion of the trunk, is reddish in color. Overall, Scotch pine is a medium-sized tree with a short crown which grows best on a deep, rich, sandy soil, but will also grow on a dry, porous soil.

To preserve wild animals implies generally the creation of a forest for them to dwell in or resort to. So it is with man.~Henry D. Thoreau

The spruces are pyramidal-shaped trees, with tall and tapering trunks, thickly covered with branches, forming a compact crown. They are widely distributed throughout the cold and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, where they often form thick forests over extended areas. The Colorado blue spruce ( Picea pungens) ommonly used in parks, can be told from the other spruces by its pale-blue or sage-green color and its sharp-pointed, coarse-feeling twigs. Its small size and sharp-pointed conical form are also characteristic.

The blue sky, the brown soil beneath, the grass, the trees, the animals, the wind, and rain, and stars are never strange to me; for I am in and of and am one with them; and my flesh and the soil are one, and the heat in my blood and in the sunshine are one, and the winds and the tempests and my passions are one. ~ W.H. Hudson

American Elm (Ulmus americana) can be told at a glance by its general branching habit. The limbs arch out into a wide-spreading fan or vase-like crown which loses itself in numerous fine drooping branchlets. The elm prefers a deep, rich and moist soil, but will adapt itself even to the poor soil of the city street.

We do not realize how far and widely, or how near and narrowly, we are to look. The greater part of the phenomena of Nature are for this reason concealed from us all our lives. The gardener sees only the gardener’s garden. Nature does not cast pearls before swine. There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate,—not a grain more. We cannot see anything until we are possessed with the idea of it, take it into our heads,—and then we can hardly see anything else. This is the history of my finding a score or more of rare plants, which I could name. A man sees only what concerns him. A botanist absorbed in the study of grasses does not distinguish the grandest Pasture Oaks. How much more, then, it requires different intentions of the eye and of the mind to attend to different departments of knowledge! How differently the poet and the naturalist look at objects! ~Henry D. Thoreau

The quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides),  and the black or balsam poplar also known as the balm of Gilead (Populus balsamifera) are other common members of the poplar group. The quaking aspen may be told by its reddish-brown twigs, narrow sharp-pointed buds, and by its small finely toothed leaves. The large-toothed aspen has thicker and rather downy buds and broader and more widely toothed leaves. The balsam poplar has a large bud thickly covered with a sticky, pungent, gelatinous substance. Its flowers, in the form of large catkins, a peculiarity of all poplars, appear in the early spring.

Some of the Fine Arts appeal to the ear, others to the eye. There is the art whose purpose it is to create beautiful compositions upon the surface of the ground. No replacement can be found for this artform, for it is as fine as the finest, and which demands as much of its professors in the way of creative power and executive skill as the most difficult. The parks department, herein referred to as The more perfectly the artist attains his aim, the more likely we are to forget that he has been at work. the landscape artist uses the same materials as nature herself. In what is called “natural” gardening it uses them to produce effects which under fortunate conditions nature might produce without man’s aid.

Glad at having discovered the existence of this forest so near home, and wondering why my urban friends had never taken me to it nor ever went out on that side, I set forth with a light heart to explore it for myself. What a wild beauty and fragrance and melodiousness it possessed above all forests, because of that mystery that drew me to it! And it was mine, truly and absolutely—as much mine as any portion of earth’s surface could belong to any man—mine with all its products: the precious woods and fruits and fragrant gums that would never be bought nor sold; its wild animals that man would never persecute; ~ W.H. Hudson

Again, the landscape-gardener’s art differs from all others in the unstable character of its productions. When surfaces are modeled and plants arranged, nature and the artist must work a long time together before the true result appears; and when once it has revealed itself, day to day attention will be forever needed to preserve it from the deforming effects of time. It is easy to see how often neglect or interference must work havoc with the best intentions, how often the passage of years must travesty or destroy the best results, how rare must be the cases in which a work of landscape art really does justice to its creator.

See for yourself, explore the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the afforestation area formerly named George Genereux Park.  See the afforestation areas as a naturalist, as an entymologist, bicycle rider, as a botanist, dog walker, a geologist, or an ornithologist.  How does your viewpoint of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the afforestation area formerly named George Genereux Park change with each hat that is worn?

And caring not in that solitude to disguise my feelings from myself, and from the wide heaven that looked down and saw me—for this is the sweetest thing that solitude has for us, that we are free in it, and no convention holds us—I dropped on my knees and kissed the prairie ground, then casting up my eyes, thanked the Author of my being for the gift of that wild forest, those green mansions where I had found so great a happiness! ~W.H. Hudson

52° 06′ 106° 45′

For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker

Author: stbarbebaker

This website is about the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area - an urban regional park of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The hosts are the stewards of the afforestation area. The afforestation area received its name in honour of the great humanitarian, Richard St. Barbe Baker. Richard St. Barbe Baker (9 October 1889 – 9 June 1982) was an English forester, environmental activist and author, who contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts. As a leader, he founded an organization, Men of the Trees, still active today, whose many chapters carry out reforestation internationally. {Wikipedia} Email is StBarbeBaker AT yahoo.com to reach the Stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

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