flora and fauna

Written by Denise Deby.

Murphy's Point - D Deby

One of the benefits of living in Ottawa is the proximity of provincial, recreational and conservation parks. Gatineau Park, Fitzroy and Rideau River Provincial Parks, and other nearby conservation areas and parks make for great day or weekend outings (or longer). Many offer hiking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, interpretive programs, camping and more, as well as the chance to appreciate the diversity of ecosystems in this region.

Although any time is a good time to spend time in a park, the July 17-19, 2015 weekend has lots to offer.

Ontario Parks is holding Healthy Parks Healthy People on Friday, July 17, to draw attention to the health benefits of nature. Day use admission to provincial parks is free, and many parks have activities planned. (Check the website under “Event Listing.”)

Saturday, July 18 is Canada’s Parks Day, and admission to many national and provincial parks and historic sites is free. Some are offering special programming for the day, too. You can see some of the activities on the Got Parks website.

(Parks Day and Got Parks are courtesy of the Canadian Parks Council, a little-known but important network through which provincial, territorial and national parks connect and address issues of common interest.)

If you don’t have access to a vehicle, don’t worry. Parkbus still offers a service to Algonquin Park from Ottawa. Check the schedule here. (The next trip is the August long weekend.)


Guest post written by Katherine Forster, Native Flora Program Coordinator, Friends of Petrie Island.

Garden Days English 2015

Want to get inspired about more natural landscaping?  Wondering what native plants you can introduce to support wildlife?  Curious about whether wildflowers would look good in an ornamental garden?  Then check out a new free event in Ottawa that is a collaboration between four local native plant gardens on the weekend of June 19th to 21st!

Ottawa’s Native Plant Garden Days offers opportunities to visit the four gardens over the three days, starting on Friday June 19th.  Two gardens: the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s landscaped gardens in Manotick and Friends of Petrie Island’s wildflower garden in Orleans will be staffed that day so that visitors can ask questions and learn more about natural landscaping and gardening for wildlife.  On Saturday, the public is encouraged to visit the gardens for self-guided tours.  At each site there will be different resources such as pamphlets, display boards or signed garden beds and/or plants.  (Petrie Island will have limited access on the Saturday due to the Carivibe event so there will be no Native Plant Garden Days events held in Orleans on that day.) Many of these resources will be available in French and English.  On Sunday, three of the gardens will be staffed: Fletcher Wildlife Garden, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Friendly Demonstration Garden and the Friends of Petrie Island’s wildflower garden.

These four Ottawa gardens provide examples of native plants in different settings, from lovely backyard flower gardens and larger landscaped yards to a more naturalized setting where you will find flowers popping up in fields, smaller natural beds and along walking trails.  This is a great opportunity for people to either visit the garden that is closest to their home or to tour all four locations in one day, so that they can enjoy the variety of these Ottawa native plant gardens. And in case someone misses this June event, all four gardens are open during the warmer seasons for the public to visit at any time.

For more details on the Native Plant Garden Days event including times and locations, please consult the website: www.nativegardensottawa.ca.


“Maplelawn Gardens” photo by Jeremicus rex – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maplelawn_Gardens.jpg#/media/File:Maplelawn_Gardens.jpg

Written by Denise Deby.

There’s no shortage of things to do this weekend, June 6-7, 2015.

Doors Open Ottawa opens the doors to more than 120 Ottawa landmarks and interesting places. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside an embassy, an architecturally significant building, an artist’s studio, a greenhouse or a historic site, check the list (and schedule).

Giveaway Weekend happens June 6-7. You put household items you no longer want on your curb, mark them “free,” and people can take them away. (There are some restrictions—for example no cribs or car seats–so check the website for guidelines.) Lots of garage sales happen this weekend, too, so you might find something that you need (and keep it out of the landfill). Check OttawaStart or Used Ottawa for locations.

Saturday is also the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, where people set up lemonade stands in neighbourhoods all over the city. The event supports the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Ottawa Veg Fest is a celebration of all things vegan and vegetarian.  Organized by the National Capital Vegetarian Association, the event includes talks on health and sustainability topics, exhibits, food samples and cooking demonstrations. Admission is by donation.

Fletcher Wildlife Garden’s Annual Native Plant Sale is on Saturday, June 6. It’s the place to find native wildflowers and find out which plants are best for your yard or garden.

Velo Vogue’s Fashion Show is on Saturday, June 6. Get inspired to ride your bike, and check out local clothing and accessories, food and drinks. Proceeds support RightBike.

Random Hacks of Kindness might be your thing if you’re interested in brainstorming with others about environmental and social challenges. Participants will be designing apps for the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, VoteSavvy and other organizations from Friday, June 5-Sunday, June 7.

Part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival June 4-13, The Global Savages (June 8-13) is described as an 18,000 year old story that presents the world view of Indigenous people, told by the Debajehmujig Storytellers, in outdoor performances that evolve as the storytellers engage with people and places. The Global Savages are also inviting people to join them early on Saturday, June 6 from 4:45 a.m.-8:00 a.m. for a Sunrise Walk on the Sentier des Voyageurs Trail from Gatineau to Ottawa.

Written by Denise Deby.

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria), Petrie Island - D. Gordon E. Robertson on Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solitary_Sandpiper,_Petrie_Island.jpg the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria), Petrie Island – D. Gordon E. Robertson on Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Solitary_Sandpiper,_Petrie_Island.jpg Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Discover Petrie Island! This wonderful spot on the Ottawa River offers walking trails, an interpretive centre, a wildflower garden, a beach, a picnic area and nature galore—including more than 130 bird species, several turtle species and 29 rare plant species.

The Friends of Petrie Island maintains part of the area on behalf of the City of Ottawa. The volunteer-run group also offers nature programs (including children’s programs) and events.

This Saturday, May 30, 2015, there’s an Island Spring Clean Up and BBQ with Ecology Ottawa. More details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/885730521489011/

On Sunday, May 31, 2015, there’ll be a Nature Walk focused on Wild Edibles with Peggi Calder. Details and registration here.

Check the Friends’ event page for upcoming events in June and beyond: http://www.petrieisland.org/events (Check out their volunteer opportunities, too.)

Guest post submitted by Matthew Blogg of Nature Canada.


The third annual Bird Day Fair is preparing to take flight yet again this year and Ottawa is getting ready to flock to it like birds of a feather!

WHEN: May 30th 2015

WHERE: Andrew Haydon Park

WHY: The annual Bird Day Fair provides a great opportunity for Ottawa area residents and visitors alike to enjoy a fun day filled with activities for the kids, valuable learning experiences for the adults and is a great reason for anyone in the community to come join us for a beautiful day in the park.

Who: This year the Bird Day Fair has a great lineup of entertainment and educators for all to enjoy. From the creepy crawler creatures of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo to the majestic falcons of Falcon-Ed there will be something slithering or something soaring all day.

How: Without the generous donations of both time and money by Ottawa local businesses, fun filled events like the Bird Day Fair could not be made possible. It is thanks to the many volunteers and all the people involved that make this fair a success.

Written by Denise Deby.

School garden and seed saving - D. Deby

Ottawa is rich in biodiversity–the variety of life that surrounds and sustains us. It’s not something we can take for granted; as everywhere, human activity often adversely affects species and their habitats.

The International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22 is a reminder that we humans need to honour and extend our commitments to the genetic, species and ecosystem diversity that enables us and everything else to survive.

Here are a few interesting local takes on biodiversity and the international day:

– This year, May 22 is also School Garden Day. What better way to celebrate and strengthen biodiversity than by helping kids understand what growing local, healthy food and native plants in their neighbourhoods is all about? Imagine a Garden in Every School and USC Canada are inviting school communities to hold activities in and around their gardens. (For tips on setting up school gardens, check here or here.)

– For USC Canada, protecting biodiversity means protecting seed diversity. The Ottawa-based organization explains that in the last 100 years, with industrialized and large-scale agriculture, global seed diversity has declined by 75 per cent. Ninety per cent of fruit and vegetable varieties in North America are gone, and three companies control 53 per cent of the global commercial seed market. This loss of diversity is bad news for the environment, our food system and our health.

How to increase food security through biodiversity? Buy food that’s local, fresh and sustainably produced whenever possible. Check out USC Canada’s seed diversity work and their I am a seed saver” initiative. Support their Run for Biodiversity during Ottawa Race Weekend May 23-24.

– The Canadian Museum of Nature is marking International Biodiversity Day by lighting its tower up in green on May 21 and 22. At a special event, Science by Night, on Thursday, May 21, people can visit the museum for free, speak with scientists and take part in activities. On Friday evening, May 22, there’s a Nature Nocturne dance party at the museum celebrating all the colours of nature.

– The State of Ontario’s Biodiversity Report 2015 will be released at the first-ever Ontario Biodiversity Summit happening May 19-22 in Niagara Falls. It will outline how biodiversity has changed in the last five years, and what needs to be done.

Written by Denise Deby.

30X30 Biking - D. Deby

I’ve signed up!

In May, I’ll be taking on two challenges, both designed to get me outside.

David Suzuki Foundation’s 30X30 Nature Challenge

In the 30X30 Nature Challenge, you pledge to get out into nature for at least 30 minutes every day, for 30 days in May. “Nature” can mean a park, a yard, a path—anywhere there’s a bit of greenspace and some flora, fauna or natural elements to observe.

It might sound like a big commitment in our busy lives, but research shows that taking time in the outdoors can improve health, happiness and community life, and give us a better appreciation of our environment. (This 30X30 Nature Challenge infographic presents some of the benefits.)

If you need ideas for spending time outside, the David Suzuki Foundation has some “daily tips” on their website: think outdoor sports, cloud watching, having a barbecue or digging in the dirt.

I’m looking forward to participating. When I signed up last year, I was going through some health challenges, and I’m pretty sure getting outside helped me feel better and stay centred. Plus, I discovered that while I do spend a fair bit of time outside, making the commitment helped me justify the time I spent—providing a great reason to take a walking break from work, sit on a park bench and read or discover nearby food trucks on my bike. I’m hoping to stay just as motivated this year.

Bike to Work Ottawa

May is also Bike to Work month. In this challenge, you commit to cycling to and from work, whether it’s every day, or a day or two a week. You can join as an individual or as part of a workplace team. (If you don’t have a workplace team you can set one up–the campaign has information to help.) Organized by EnviroCentre and the City of Ottawa, Bike to Work includes a chance to win bikes and other prizes. Stay tuned for events as well. On Thursday, Apr. 30, there’s a Cycle Commuting Forum with advice from EnviroCentre, Ottawa Velo Outaouais and the Ottawa Bike Lanes Project (at MEC Ottawa, 6:30-8 p.m.)

I’ve signed up for Bike to Work, too. Last year I didn’t let working from a home office stop me—I participate by recording my bike trips for meetings and errands on my Bike to Work page.

You can sign up for both challenges any time during May. Hope to see you outside!

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