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Please join us on Thursday evenings in July and August to view local gardens featuring native plants. Each tour will commence at 7:00pm. Learn from the garden experts about creating gardens with native plants to attract wildlife and benefit our environment.

August 10 Residential Native Garden – 6719 Old Mill Road in “the Maples” subdivision off of old Lakeshore Rd **Please note the change in address from that published in the brochure.

This garden, owned by LWI members, is on a small, subdivision lot. Originally there was no landscaping other than turfgrass and a few foundation plants in front of the house as part of the builder’s package. The soil is heavy, compacted clay, and both the front and back yards are in full sun all day. Today, the property showcases an alternative to the suburban lawn that provides natural habitat and pleasing aesthetics. Last year the Sarnia Horticultural Society visited this garden.

The back garden was installed by Return the Landscape in 2013 and expanded by the homeowners in 2016. The front garden was installed by RTL in 2014.  RTL also installed dry creek beds in the back garden to direct rainwater from the downspouts to a wet meadow complex with a diversity of plant species in the back corner.

The plants are native to the local eco-zone and were selected for their wildlife value, particularly for native pollinators such as butterflies and moths.  Because of the clay soil and full sun exposure, most grasses and wildflowers selected are found in prairie or wet meadow environments.  Wet meadow plants include Boneset, (Eupatorium perfoliatum ) Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum ) and Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum).   During this visit, some of the more imposing prairie plants such as Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris) will be in bloom.

Please join us on Thursday evenings in July and August to view local gardens featuring native plants. Each tour will commence at 7:00pm. Learn from the garden experts about creating gardens with native plants to attract wildlife and benefit our environment.

August 3 – Mixed Habitat – 2200 Churchill Line. This is Nick’s place (LWI board member and current board secretary) located between Telfer and Brigden Line. For parking, take long driveway up to house and park on the mowed grass along the driveway.

The house has a natural woodlot behind it. Shawn had done previous landscaping here around 8 years ago and Nick has expanded on it over the last 3 years. It has a mix of habitats with a large diversity of plant species. The front has full/part sun meadow areas and some rain gardens. The back is open woods that range from upland to swampy and was once ash dominant but now has lots of gaps in the canopy due to the emerald ash borer. Part of this tour will include strategies about how to enhance an existing woodlot by removing non-natives and planting appropriate native species. This visit is bound to include lots of butterflies as it is prime giant swallowtail habitat.

Please join us on Thursday evenings in July and August to view local gardens featuring native plants. Each tour will commence at 7:00pm. Learn from the garden experts about creating gardens with native plants to attract wildlife and benefit our environment.

July 27 – Beachside Prairie Garden and woodlot at 1374 Lakeshore Road (East of Mater Drive).

Parking is available by taking the long driveway straight towards the beach with some parking options close to house. Visitors may need to park on the road.

This is a 7 year old garden with tallgrass prairie in front of the house and beach grass/dune habitat in back. This is one of Return the Landscape’s only full scale, full on tallgrass prairie gardens that is actually tall grass dominant. The front of the property is a natural woodlot with many native plant species, including sassafras and witch hazel.

Please join us on Thursday evenings in July and August to view local gardens featuring native plants. Each tour will commence at 7:00pm. Learn from the garden experts about creating gardens with native plants to attract wildlife and benefit our environment.

July 20th – Naturalized Downtown

This is actually a tour of four downtown gardens. To begin, meet at the park at the corner of Christina and Davis.

Our starting point is the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Garden.  This was one of Shawn McKnight’s first native gardens and is in the process of transformation from predominantly flowering tallgrass prairie species to lower growing drought tolerant species with a lot more grass. Our speaker will discuss the tough site conditions.  All the downtown gardens have tough site conditions, but this one probably the toughest. It could be our native gardening in tough places workshop! Problems included: wind, salt, poor or shallow soil, blowing garbage, foot traffic, weed seed…

Next is the Scotia Bank garden which has also underwent same transformation as above, but in this case the transformation is complete and we are very pleased with how this garden is performing. It’s a business, so Return the Landscape has had to find the right balance of wild and tidy.

The garden at First Sarnia Place is a series of large square concrete planters behind the apartment building. It represents a more corporate style of planting using only native plants.

The residential garden at the corner of Vidal and Cromwell has had both the front and side gardens naturalized. This location has an awesome rain garden just feet away from the sidewalk and people frequently do a “double take” when they walk by.

JUNIOR CONSERVATIONISTS EVENT (AGED 12+)

Canatara Park is a local hotspot not only for beach-goers, but also species at risk, resident owls, migrant songbirds, impressive trees, and a mixture of habitats. The area we call Canatara Park today has gone through many changes over the years, mostly due to human development. Today, values have shifted realizing the importance of green space and nature. Protecting nature directly involves protecting natural habitat and restoring other spaces.

Join Felicia from Nature’s Way Nurseries to help restore Canatara Park to a better habitat for more plants and animals!

What to bring:

  • lunch, snacks, water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • sunblock and insect repellent
  • hat
  • closed toed footwear (rubber boots help for protection against ticks)
  • pen/pencil & notepad (optional)
  • work/garden gloves

Where to meet:

Canatara Park – park at the Animal Farm entrance. Meet at open Pavilion/Barn picnic tables near entrance of Animal Farm.

July 18th, 2017

Many of Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians are species at risk. There’s still a lot we don’t know about them. Come join the St. Clair Conservation Authority as they monitor reptiles as a part of a long-term study to observe any potential changes in amphibian populations. Learn about local species, their threats, and how you can help.

If you came to the last reptile monitoring outing, we will be going into more detail on how to identify, survey, and monitor for local species.

Where to Meet

940 Holt Line, Wilkesport, ON N0P 2R0

What to bring

  •  lunch, snacks, water (LOTS OF WATER)
  • sunblock and insect repellent (wash hands thoroughly after application for the sake of our amphibians
  • hat
  • RUBBER BOOTS, HIP WAITERS, ETC. for protection against ticks
  • reptile/amphibian field guide
  • Ontario Nature – Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORRA) App (free – optional)
  • pen/pencil & notepad

Young Naturalists

July 8th—What’s All the Buzz About? Bees with Kim Gledhill Marthaville Habitat Management Area 1pm-3pm

Learn about the honey bee society and the importance of dance with Kim Gledhill. She will be bringing her bee keeping equipment and a specially designed display hive with live bees inside.  To learn about honey bee language, we will play the bee dance game where you can be the queen bee in the hive. Honey and crackers are on the menu too.

Where to Meet

4749 Marthaville Rd, Petrolia, ON N0N 1R0

 

What to bring:

  • suntan lotion
  • hat
  • water
  • pen/pencil + notepad

Many of Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians are species at risk.  There’s still a lot we don’t know about them. Come join the St. Clair Conservation Authority as they monitor reptiles as a part of a long-term study to observe any potential changes in amphibian populations. Learn about local species, their threats, and how you can help.

Pack a lunch, snacks and water for the day.

Where to Meet

940 Holt Line, Wilkesport, ON N0P 2R0

What to bring

TBD

There are many indicators that spring is about to happen in Canatara Park. For some it is seeing old friends that have not been in the park since last fall. Others look forward to the return of the Warblers and the first Yellow Rump. Others are looking for spring flowers. But for some, it is sighting the first turtle of the year. This year, I understand the first turtle was seen in February during the unusually warm pre-spring weather. The turtles usually start to appear when the ice has melted and the weather has warmed.
Canatara has two turtles that are commonly seen in Lake Chipican and surrounding canals. The Midland Painted Turtle is the most common native species and the Red Eared Slider in also common, but it is not native to Canada. It is referred to as “the pet shop” turtle. People buy this species of turtle for a pet and when it grows too big or is no longer wanted, their owners abandon them in Lake Chipican.

Red Eared and Painted Turtles. Photo credit: Dick Wilson

Painted turtles have black shells with dark red or orange markings. Red Eared Sliders have a shell that is higher domed than the Painted Turtle and has yellow marking. Not surprisingly, the Red Eared Slide has a “red ear”! The “ear” is a red spot behind the eye.

Snapping Turtle. Photo credit: Dick Wilson

Not commonly sighted, but also not rare, is the Snapping Turtle. Snapping Turtles are the largest turtle in Lake Chipican and have a prehistoric look. Snapping Turtles can be aggressive and slow on land, but will slide away and hide when in the water.

A fourth turtle, a Blandings Turtle, has been seen in or around Lake Chipican, but it is an extremely rare siting. Only one has been seen in recent memory.

Other species of Ontario native turtles, such as the Northern Map, Spiny Softshell and the Musk (Stink Pot) Turtles are found on the Sydenham River and in the Mitchell’s Bay area, but not in Lake Chipican.

A more descriptive species description and range maps for some species can be found at OntarioNature.org. Use the Protect, Species, Reptiles_and_Amphibians, Turtles, Species Listing tabs to locate the range maps. Another excellent turtle site is TorontoZoo.com. Search for Turtle Tally.

The number of turtles in Lake Chipican is unknown, at least to me. In doing a non-scientific survey, I found that:
The Midland Painted Turtle is much more common sighting than the Red Eared Slider.
The Red Eared Sliders, that I observed, appeared to be of the large variety and they are usually larger than any of the Midland Painted Turtles.
I have not identified any small younger Red Eared Sliders.
The Midland Painted Turtles come in various sizes from 5cm to larger turtles.
The Red Eared Slider appears to be the more hardy species and can be found sunning more often in cooler weather than the Midland Painted Turtle.
There are a variety of spots to look for turtles around Lake Chipican. The spot that consistently has the most turtles is the “Turtle Log” located on the northern third of the east side of the lake.

You will not see a lot of Snapping Turtles

You may see turtles on land.

From mid-April to mid-May, 2017, I recorded 17 daily turtle sighting. In that time, I recorded seeing 305 Midland Painted Turtles, 79 Red Eared Turtles and 3 Snapping Turtles. Midland Painted Turtles are most certainly observed most often.

Do your own survey and compare the results.
Pictures of the more common turtles in Canatara are included.