Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Leave a comment

Support your native bee pollinators


Checking out my mason bees at the end of the work day. The top bee house is homemade and the bottom was purchased at Figaro’s garden store. Photo by J. B. Fergusson


Native bees are endangered due to pesticide use and loss of habitat. They are often better pollinators than the honeybee, helping pollinate our fruit trees and vegetables and preserve the native ecosystem. We need to whatever we can to help these efficient pollinators.

With the expert guidance of staff and volunteers by the organization Hives 4 Humanity, I was inspired to build bee homes from reclaimed wood for my backyard to give the little native pollinators a place to nest.

This summer, my apple trees and blueberry and raspberry bushes are bursting with fruit.

Mason bees working

Bees are cold blooded and here they are waiting for the morning sun to warm them before getting down to work. Photo by Julie Cheng

It’s a great way to start and end the work day, watching the bees. The bees are fascinating and super-cute.

What you can do to help native bees

  • Plant native wildflowers that are bee-friendly
  • Plant some bee turf instead of grass for your lawn
  • Do not use pesticides or herbicides in your garden
  • Build a bee home in your garden
  • Purchase bee cocoons and set them out in spring/summer by your bee home
  • For bee supplies, check your local garden store (like Figaro’s, West Coast Seeds) or online store (

Butterflies are also pollinators. Photo by J. B. Fergusson

Julie Cheng has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 20 years and is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Collingwood Corner: The Birds’ Paradise

Albert Jones playing violin at 5207 Hoy Street. Photo from the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1215


Thanks to Allen Doolan, a subscriber and moderator on one of the Nostalgic Vancouver Facebook groups I’m in, I recently discovered that a bird aviary was once in the Collingwood area at 5207 Hoy Street.

The bird aviary was quite well known and was even mentioned in a letter to the editors in the February 24, 1941 edition of Life magazine. The owner was Charles E. Jones, who was also briefly the 26th mayor of Vancouver until passing away September 1, 1948.*

Charles E. Jones. From the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1191

I can’t find out much about Charles Jones, but he certainly loved birds. If you visit the Vancouver Archives online, you will be able to see many postcards of the birds. Some of them will make you smile! I’ve included my favourites here.

Dog resting at the aviary with feathered friends. Photo from the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1193

The old house on Hoy Street that once contained these delightful creatures is still standing. It was built in 1910, and still has its original charm with a lovely garden. I’ve often been drawn to this house while walking in the neighbourhood, and now I know why. What a fascinating history it has.

According to the B.C. Directories online, “Birds Paradise” was listed along with Charles Jones’s name in the 1939 edition. I think it may have been a lucrative or at least a most interesting pastime for him. He was listed as retired in 1932, but in later editions of the B.C. Directories, he is listed as alderman, and then he is mayor in 1947.*

Postcard. From the Vancouver Archives CVA371-1199

The letter to the editor of the Life magazine in 1941 from Clyde Ragsdale states that Charles Jones “revived a childhood dream when he created this sanctuary, where thousands of birds, wild and domestic, representing some 35 species, from Chinese nightingales and Indian bulbuls to South American finches, have found haven.”

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

*This article was corrected September 29, 2020. The Charles E. Jones who owned the aviary did not become mayor of Vancouver. That was another Charles E. Jones.

Leave a comment

3 top garden tips for summer


Deadheading truly is addition by subtraction when it comes to keeping your garden in full bloom. Make sure to remove the entire flower from the stem. Photo by Julie Cheng


During the dry summer months, managing your garden turns into more of a survival game than anything else.

Proper watering, pruning, and deadheading are all essential to keeping your garden fresh as the summer months carry on. Whether you are an experienced gardener or someone that is just getting started, remember these important tips while executing these fundamental gardening tasks.

1. Watering

  • When watering planters, fill the pot until there is a thin layer of water on top of the soil and then let it drain. Repeat 5 to 8 times depending on the size of the container. If the soil is still absorbing the water rapidly, keep watering until the absorption slows.
  • Even after what feels like significant rainfall, continue your watering routine. If you check the soil after some rain, you’ll see that it is often only the top layer that gets wet.
  • For larger plants such as shrubs and small trees, extensive watering is required. If you notice any signs of wilting, start putting either a soaker hose, or some sort of continual watering apparatus, on the plant for at least a couple of hours a day. The permanent wilting point (PWP), is when your plant has wilted past the point of no return. To avoid this, ensure it is given significantly more water at any sign of wilting.

2. Pruning

  • While certain plants call for specific pruning guidelines, a good rule to stick by is always cutting at a “crotch,” where the branch you are pruning meets another branch or the main stem/trunk. Cutting at a crotch will allow the plant to maintain a natural shape, as cutting mid branch often causes “suckers,” where are new growths that extend straight up in undesirable fashion from the point that was cut.
  • When pruning roses, always try to cut back to a branch that has at least five leaves on it. If that’s not possible, aim for a “node,” a small bump where new growth is beginning.
  • Always be on the constant look out for dead limbs on your trees. Not only are they a danger to the people walking below, removing the dead weight will encourage quicker regrowth.

3. Deadheading

  • Like weeding, deadheading can be a tiresome but ultimately worthwhile endeavor. Continually removing the dying flowers from a plant, before they seed, forces the plant to keep producing more and more flowers.
  • Make sure to remove the entire flower from the stem. An efficient technique can be found by just using your thumb and your index finger to pop the flower heads off.
  • If you are not in a position to deadhead regularly, don’t hesitate to remove flowers that are only beginning to show signs of decay. As contradictory as it feels, deadheading during the flowering season truly is addition by subtraction when it comes to keeping your garden in full bloom.

Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper in Vancouver. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News