Birthday marked with library bench

[attach]5359[/attach]The Leaside Garden Society wants you to take a seat — on their new bench, that is.

The club marked its 25th anniversary in mid-November by placing a pristine seating space at the front of the Leaside Library.

“We thought the front of the library was perfect for that,” said 15-year member society Barry Schneider, who helped spearheaded the idea. “Plus the library is our home, we hold all of our meetings there. It made sense to have it sort of at our home base.”

Schneider says the bench is made from cast aluminium, which he adds requires no maintenance, and a special kind of wood for the seat.

“The seat is made of a tropical hardwood,” he said. “We were assured that it weathers very, very well.

“It’s not something that’s going to get soggy with a lot of rain on it, then start to rot.”

And that’s a major selling point, since the bench is also a replacement.

“The bench in front of the library was in pretty bad shape,” Schneider said. “It had never been maintained, it never had a coat of varnish on it and the wood was just in very bad shape.”

While the new bench is a welcome addition to Leaside Library’s landscape, it wasn’t the society’s first choice.

“We were talking about the fact that 2011 was our 25th anniversary and what might we do?” Schneider said. “So I suggested we look into a piece of public garden art.”

But after looking online, visiting artists, and having price quotes well beyond their budget along with having another proposal turned down, the idea for replacing the bench was floated.

After going through a similar process with the failed art, the club found a winner.

“We submitted our three choices, in order, to the library and they came back and said they liked our number one choice,” Schneider said, adding the entire process took about a year of planning.

Though there is currently no plaque or designation on the bench, Schneider said the club, which boasts about 140 members, are planning to add one in the spring. He also mentioned Leaside Garden Society’s mandate says the group should be well integrated in the community.

Incoming president Nora Campbell showed proof of that, saying the group has numerous community-based projects, including taking children from Thorncliffe Park Public School to the Toronto Botanical Gardens for a gardening lesson, having children in grade 3 from various schools do planting in some community gardens and maintaining the gardens at Lyndhurst Centre near Bayvew and Eglinton avenues.

If all goes well, Campbell said there might be another addition to that list soon.

“There’s a proposal being put forward for a commemorative garden on the other side of the (Leaside) library,” she said. “That will also be to make the neighbourhood more aware of what the garden society does for them.”

Schneider said giving back to the community was part of the plan for installing something to commemorate the group’s silver anniversary.

“That was the purpose of it in the first place, to have something the community could appreciate,” he said, adding with a laugh: “We were looking for something perhaps a little more artistic or expressive but what the heck, practical is good too.

“It doesn’t look like an ordinary park bench, it looks kind of classier than that and that’s the look we wanted for the front of the library,” he added. “I think everyone, the board of the garden club particularly, they’re all very happy with what we came up with.”

Campbell agreed, saying it was a good choice to mark 25 years.

“This bench should last hopefully another 25,” she said. “It’s a good quality bench.”