In 2017 Rockway Gardens was honoured to be chosen by the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation as a site to grow one of the Vimy Oak saplings.
What is a Vimy Oak, you might ask? Lieutenant Leslie Miller, a soldier at the Battle of Vimy Ridge collected acorns from an Oak that had been standing on the battlefield, and was felled by the battle. He sent those acorns home in April of 1917 to his family in Ontario. The acorns were planted by his family and some of those Oaks still stand today, near Scarborough, Ontario.
After the war, there were no Oaks left growing in the area of France. The Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation (VOLC) was formed. The VOLC wanted to return the Oak to France, and the field where the battle of Vimy Ridge took place. The VOLC partnered with NVK Nurseries in Ontario to grow saplings from the Vimy Oaks in Scarborough by acorn and grafting.
We are now six years later, and I am proud to say the Vimy Oak in Rockway Gardens (‘Vimy’) has flourished. It started growing immediately, which I would say is unusual. Oak trees often take a few years to acclimatize to their new growing site, as well as establish roots. Vimy has been vigourous from the start, putting a few feet of growth on, each year. This year it is up to at least fifteen feet in height, and is also quite wide.
The Vimy Oak is an English Oak or ‘Quercus robur’. It has beautiful round lobed little leaves that are quite small compared to some of the Red Oaks we have on the property.
Another wonderful surprise for us this year, is that Vimy decided to produce acorns! This is very amazing, actually, since it is well known by Horticulturalists that Oaks frequently take up to 20 years to produce their first Acorns.
Post written by Karin Clemens, Rockway Gardens Head Gardener
About the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation
The Battle of Vimy Ridge in northern France, April 9th to 12th, 1917 is considered a defining event in the history of our nation. The Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation is a not-for-profit corporation. It is made up of volunteers promoting the memory and legacy of Canadians who fought in the First World War through the planting of “Vimy Oak” saplings. These are saplings that are descendants of acorns gathered after the Battle of Vimy Ridge and planted in Canada by a Canadian soldier, Lieutenant Leslie Miller.
The Vimy Oaks Legacy Corporation has now fulfilled its two-fold mission, which was to create living memorials by:
1. repatriating “Vimy Oak” saplings (French oaks – Quercus robur) to Vimy Ridge in 2018, and
2. distributing commemorative “Vimy Oak” saplings across Canada.