Do I need to water my native plants?

(c) Fletcher Wildlife Garden

Heading into another toasty Ottawa weekend (if it is Canada Day, it must either be roasting or soggy with massive downpours…), a very important question comes to mind for gardeners heading off on a camping trip or just the water conscious at home: do I need to water my native plants? After all, part of the reason to go native in the garden, as it were, is to reduce the amount of work tending a traditional ornamental garden requires.

At the FWG we have a sprinkler that we turn on as the baby plants in the nursery require since they can dry out more quickly in their small pots. There is an automatic sprinkler for the grass in the Backyard Garden since its more high-traffic nature means wear and tear is more obvious and damaging with very dry grass. We don’t water the plants in the BYG or anywhere else at the FWG unless they are newly planted and becoming established. Continue reading


Get out into the great green and learn!

FWG Volunteer Katherine Forster is one of the minds behind Ottawa Urban Wild Tours, an initiative sponsored through Transition Ottawa to provide an opportunity for residents to get out and learn more about nature in the City. Through monthly tours on various topics with invited guides, OUWT is a great way to get taste of nature near you.

Of course, tours run by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club (FWG’s parent organisation) are another fabulous way to get outside and learn. Events include tours and workshops, and vary in level of technical ability.

Citizen Science in the Ottawa Area

Written with C Hanrahan │ FWG

Citizen scientists can be any age. The Macoun Club is a great way for your child to learn about nature (and yourself, should you decide to tag along!) Visit their website to learn more.

The word ‘scientist’ may conjure up test tubes, glasses and white lab coats, but an ecological scientist is more likely to be tramping around in Gore-Tex and North Face hikers. Nevertheless, ‘scientist’ also connotes a high level of post-secondary education and access to the ivory towers of academia. But anyone can be a scientist if willing to practice in an organised fashion – after all, a scientist is really just a person with knowledge, interest and the willingness to exercise due diligence over the quality of information he or she collects.

A citizen scientist might be you or your child. With the advent of interactive technologies, citizen science is taking off as a valuable tool for monitoring our natural world. Citizen science is simply where many people without specific qualifications but who do have the interest and time can participate in the collection of information for scientific analysis. You can be a seasoned naturalist or perhaps you can only recognise two butterfly species, but either way you can participate by sharing your knowledge and observations to create a mega sample across many geographies. With shrinking research budgets, especially in conservation ecology, citizen science is an ideal way to create large datasets for analysis. Continue reading

Not so ‘elemen-tree’: How to plant a tree

Planting Nannyberry trees in the heat, on a slope, in the clay – a thankless job for which we are most thankful!

Planting trees should be an elementary activity in theory, right? Just dig hole, place tree, fill in and go! The reality is more complicated, as proper tree planting requires greater due diligence than people realise. How you dig the hole, place the tree, stabilise and back fill soil are essential for tree survival – and, are items sadly ignored even by some professional installers (just look more closely at trees in parking lots the next time you go shopping – suckering near the bottom of the trunk means an unhappy tree!) Continue reading

DSV Alert for Windsor

Hobomok skipper (Poanes hobomok) on DSV leaf

Most invasive species seem to march northwards from ports or up across the border, but Dog-strangling Vine is being its usual stealthy, sneaky self and heading southwards at the SAME time. The Windsor Star published an alert on June 1 that Windsorites should keep an eye out for DSV, and remove or report it. The plant could come from Michigan or southwards along the Quebec-Windsor corridor – one of the busiest transportation corridors in North America.

Fraser Smith, of the Invading Species Awareness Program, claims that the Toronto-area is the epicentre of the population. The Invading Species Awareness Program was created by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters with the Ministry of Natural Resources and has a hotline to report sightings of invasive species. Dog-strangling Vine is among the program’s top 10 invasive plants and it is actively spreading.

DSV was first noted in Toronto in 1899, and traced back to Ukraine or Russia. Just why the population seems to have aggressively exploded in the last 10 years is unknown.

What are you doing this Saturday? Why not help some pollinators!

Monarch caterpillar amongst the flowers of Common Milkweed

This Saturday, June 16th, from 9AM until 12:30PM marks our first public work bee at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden this season. We invite anyone interested in a little hard work and not afraid of getting dirty to come out and lend a hand. Bring a friend!

After meeting at the Interpretation Centre, we’ll head over to the Butterfly Meadow to plant over 2000 native plants beloved by local pollinators. As part of this work, we’ll be preparing planting sites by turning soil and using our fancy big manual sifters to remove Dog-strangling Vine (DSV) roots. Continue reading

Still looking for native plants for your garden? Updated sale list here!

After a day of great sales (thank you!), we have now had a chance to re-inventory our stock and decide what will still be available for sale. The pdf contains this information. Some plants are listed as ‘ASK’, which means we have very limited numbers. We do have a few plants of Wild Bergamot and Beebalm, so if you are specifically looking for those also ask. Our plans are to otherwise plant them in the Butterfly Meadow; however, we are happy to sell a few for other pollinator gardens. Continue reading

We love corporate volunteers!

Green Heron – our mascot! They like to hang out at the Amphibian Pond and eat all the frogs. Photo by Sandy Garland

In May, FWG played host to two corporate volunteer groups. Through Evergreen, Microsoft employees came and helped plant trees on the steep and newly-cleared slopes of the ravine. Their enthusiasm and stick-to-it-ness in the face of wrangling massive plants down thorny, and to then hack holes out of clay and roots was so very much appreciated. These Elderberries should survive the rabbits!

Right before the Plant Sale, volunteers from PriceWaterhouseCoopers came and planted a few trees on the slope before heading to the Butterfly Meadow to plant flowers and sift soil. They even returned after their lunch to continue work despite only being scheduled in for 3 hours that day! Diane said it was the best group she’s ever had. Continue reading

Plant Sale 2012 – Hands down, a success!

This is a young squirrel, born this spring, but growing fast. He’s sticking his head out of a hole chewed in the top side of a roosting box that this grey squirrel family took over. Many of the roosting boxes are used by red squirrels, but some, as here, have been co-opted by greys. With funds raised, we can build more boxes, but this time, maybe the birds will get in first! :)


Miss the sale? Want plants? Don’t feel depressed just yet about having to wait a whole year for your next opportunity!

We are going to re-inventory what we have left and have chosen to sell, and then we’ll post that list online. You’re also welcome to drop by Friday mornings between 9:30 and 12 should you like to talk to a volunteer and make a purchase.

The sale went wonderfully well considering the weather and competing events – thank you so much to everyone who came out to help support not only our fundraising efforts, but the pollinators in our area! We were really happy to meet new faces and network with other Monarch Waystation aficionados. We’re considering developing a mini-waystation planting kit, so if you are interested please drop us a note in the comments or email us so that we can gauge interest and actual need.

Even the robin nesting right by the Interpretation Centre door put up with all the ruckus, since she knew what an important event it was for us!

We broke a record this year for a rainy sale day, and we’re ecstatic! Thank you!!!