Our Sandy Gets an Award

By Ted Farnworth

Friends of the Earth plaque

The subject of pollinators is hot one right now. More and more people are coming to understand how important these insects are, especially because of the role they play in the growing of many fruits and vegetables. We, at the Fletcher, often tell people that one of our objectives is to create a “garden” that is friendly to insects especially pollinators. Over the years we have build up a lot of experience with pollinators that we want to share. Sandy Garland has been working with a number of local groups giving them advice and help to create sites that are pollinator friendly, and this year she has worked at establishing pollinator gardens at the FWG. For her efforts, Sandy has recently received a Bee Cause Champion Award plaque from the Friends of the Earth organization for her work on protecting native bees. Congratulations Sandy!

FWG Gets Outside Help

By Ted Farnworth   

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), The Royal Ottawa, and TD Bank. What do they have in common? Well, each of them has volunteer groups that have recently come to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden to help us.

Our regular volunteers do a great job, but we are always happy to have groups come out to lend a hand. Using enthusiasm, strength, and speed these volunteer groups were able to get many items off of our “to do” list. The PWC group put up new story boards, worked on the eavestrough/downspout, moved some large logs to the pond, placed flagstone around benches to help with water drainage and did some work on invasives.

The Royal Ottawa group was able to pull enough DSV in a morning to create a pile more that a metre high (see photo). The TD bank group also worked on DSV, and were able to dig out enough purple comfrey to create two giant mounds (see photo).

We welcome such groups to help us to maintain the garden and we know that this first experience with the Fletcher Garden is a great way for us to get better known in the community.

Pile of DSV after Royal Ottawa group finished

TD bank group with one of their comfry piles

Andrenid bees at the FWG

by Christine Hanrahan

Originally posted in May 2011

About 5 years ago, I discovered an aggregation of Andrenid bees nesting on the north slope of the Amphibian Pond. At that time they were in one location only. The next year I went back to the pond in early spring, hoping to find them. It wasn’t until late April that they appeared, in the same location, at the time a nearby willow was in flower. Eventually, I discovered that they were Andrena dunningi, a species known to time its emergence to coincide with the flowering of willow trees.

Andrenid bee. These bees were very active in early afternoon under a warm, sunny sky. I would guesstimate about 30-40 were seen, fewer than the number of nest holes.

Over the next few years, I found them mostly in the initial location, but in 2007, I also found some nesting in another section of the north slope, where an abundance of non-native plants, mostly mustards and Chenopodium species, were growing (for that one year). The nesting, of course, took place before these plants had grown to full height.

This year, 2011, the bees were first noticed in late April, and, interestingly, I saw they had spread from their original site to the upper section of the track around the pond (not the Bill Holland Trail, but the “informal” track that was created when the bridge was closed last year), and to the west side of this track. I counted about 30 entrance holes at that point.

Constant foot traffic on the track meant that the burrows were continually being closed over, although new holes appeared regularly.

Andrenids prefer areas of bare soil with scattered vegetation, such as sparsely growing grass, and show a distinct preference for the tops of slopes. Their burrows are about 4-6 inches in length, as best as I can determine, so we don’t want to plant species with deep spreading roots that might prevent them from burrowing. Reading I have done since last week indicates that they will nest under exposed tree roots, but they are much happier with bare soil.

Some of the plants we have considered for this location (and we are not restricting the list to native only) include clover, grasses and sedges that form clumps (such as poverty oat grass and peduncled sedge), and possibly vines that will grow down the slope such as wild grape or virginia creeper.

Freshly dug nest site: you can see the mound of soil around the hole.

Andrenid nest entrance. Freshly dug holes often have a mound of soil around them (see photo above), but rain washes this away. Many of the nest holes are not apparent at first, especially if not surrounded by a mound of soil. They are also very small, approx. 1/4 inch or less.

NOTE: As of May 2017, we have found at least 7 species of Andrenid bees at the FWG: Andrena cressonii, A. dunningi, A. miserabilis, A. nasonii, A rufosignata, A. vicina, and A. wilkella (the last one is the only non-native). In addition to this location next to the pond, we’ve also seen them in the Old Woodlot.

FWG: “One of nine top garden destinations in Canada”

by John Davidson

Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden is included in one of the nine best gardens in Canada to visit, according to travel writer Katharine Fletcher.

The article features several highlights in and around the Central Experimental Farm. About FWG, she writes, “Immediately adjacent to the Arboretum find the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, a public education project managed by the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club.

“Their Backyard garden features rock, woods, pond and other gardens where species have identification signs.

“There’s no better place to go for gardeners to discover what grows where, than to visit The Farm.”

Ms. Fletcher’s article appears in Travel2Next, an Australian-based travel web site, using independent travel writers, photographers and bloggers to deliver travel experiences, ideas and opportunities to its readers worldwide.

Read the full article

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