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Environmental and Sustainability Education

Environmental and Sustainability Education Garden

ESE Garden

The environmental and sustainability education garden encourages the preservation and protection of natural ecosystems by creating a healthy community of living organisms. Its plantings support a wide system of living things, from the plants themselves, to pollinators (like butterflies and bees) that they attract, to the people that will experience it.  This colourful garden includes native plants that are eco-friendly, water wise and low maintenance to demonstrate OISE's commitment to sustaining a healthy environment. This garden also represents the importance of balance (through cycles and symbiosis) in supporting other species, eco-literacy, and plants indigenous to our region, which require little maintenance and consume little water. 

Prairie Smoke
Geum triflorium - 

Prairie Smoke is native to Ontario and a hardy, low maintenance plant. Its blooms are pink and purple and it attracts birds and butterflies. It is an early bloomer in the spring, with pink Seuss-like flowers. Its presence in the ESE garden represents the importance of local environments to the preservation of the Earth.

Giant & Semi-Dwarf Sunflower
Helianthus giganteus/ Helianthus mezzulah - 

The bright and sunny sunflower stands for optimistic strength and hope in the garden. Its familiar yellow blooms draw visitors in and welcome them into the garden experience. Popular with pollinators, the sunflower rapid growth and extension from the ground up mirrors that of environmental and sustainability education at OISE.      

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida - Miinaande Giizisobagoons

Echinacea is a plant that is native to North America and has many uses. Medicinally, it has been used extensively in the treatment of colds and infections as it is thought to stimulate the immune system and decrease inflammation. Drought tolerant, it blooms in beautiful pinks and purples in the summer. It attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and represents the interconnection of the ecosystem.

Asclepias syriaca - cabo' sîkûn/înîni'wûnj

Milkweed has light pink flowers and contains a bitter white sap that protects it from predators. The sap also is essential nectar for many butterfly species, including monarchs.  It has been included here to symbolize the role that sustainability plays in the pollination of ideas across disciplines.

Wild Bergamot
Monarda fistulosa - weca' wûs wackwî' nek

Wild bergamot or bee balm is a fragrant native plant to Ontario that has clusters of soft pink or purple flowers. It has long been used by Indigenous peoples of North America as a medicine and antiseptic to treat colds (brewed as tea) and infections and wounds (ground into a poultice). Tea made from wild bergamot has also been used as a stimulant. In this garden it is a reminder of the importance of Indigenous knowledges and perspectives to a sustainable world.

ESE garden Map

Resources on Environmental and Sustainability Education

Articles and Books:

Carney, J. (2011). Growing our own: A case study of teacher candidates learning to teach for sustainability in an elementary school with a garden. Journal of Sustainability Education, 2. 

Williams, D. R., & Brown, J. D. (2012). Learning gardens and sustainability education: Bringing life to schools and schools to life. New York: Routledge.