Native Species

DEPAVE PARADISE: St. Brigid Catholic School joins the growing movement to tear up asphalt in schoolyards

HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On April 28th starting at 3pm they’ll be liberating the soil at St. Brigid’s by removing the asphalt by hand (and pry-bar) in a community work bee. Beautification projects like these are proven to increase sense of community ownership and stewardship, foster the development of community identity, bring people with various background together to work on a common goal, and help build community leaders.  They’ll return on May 5th to plant a new garden in the depaved space. Green Venture, St. Brigid Catholic Elementary School, 14th Hamilton Scout Group and local community members will be hosting Hamilton’s 4th Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a green space created through student-driven design. The garden will be split into four quadrants to represent the student’ vision including a peace garden, butterfly garden, rain garden and sensory garden.

Depaving Day:
Friday April 28th, 2017 3:00pm-7:30pm

Planting Day:

Friday May 5th, 2017 3:00pm-7:30pm

FROM PAVEMENT TO PARADISE!

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, a key funder of this project, says that managing rain where it falls should be the first priority of stormwater management, to help meeting water quantity and quality targets in waterways. One of the key issues for Hamilton Harbour is the impact of urban runoff which contributes to high nutrient concentration and sediment into the Harbour. Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world.

Bring your family and friends, young and old, and join St. Brigid and partners transform the schoolyard pavement into a vibrant and engaging green space for all to enjoy!

Volunteers are needed! This is a family friendly event and all are welcome. We will provide all necessary tools and safety equipment as well as food and drink for all volunteers. Please arrive dressed for the weather (Rain or Shine!), wearing sturdy shoes and be ready to get your hands dirty.

For more information about how you can get involved contact Laura Anderson, Program Coordinator at laura.anderson@greenventure.ca or 905-540-8787 ext. 158.

Many thanks go to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding support provided for this project.  Our project partners: Green Venture, Depave Paradise, Green Communities Canada, St. Brigid, Bay Area Restoration Council, 14th Hamilton Scouts, Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, HWCDSB and many more!

Four Shades of Green

An update on our grass alternative beds

EcoHouse is getting greener — four shades greener to be exact!  Last summer we established four small test plots for different types of lawn alternatives, right in our own front yard.  We wanted to understand the benefits of each type firsthand, and be able to show visitors exactly how each would turn out.  This has been an exciting project right from the get-go.  There was much debate amongst staff and board as to which alternatives we should choose, and the four finalists that made it into the exhibit were: Continue reading

My Green Venture Internship: Lessons Learned

Hi! My name’s Areeba and I’ve just completed a seven week placement at Green Venture. I have learned many different things during the past seven weeks through my position as a green gardener where I assist with the maintenance of the many gardens and facilities present on the property. Continue reading

Adventures in Turtle Rescue

Every now and again things happen unexpectedly that can provide surprise opportunities for environmentalism in daily life.

This lesson was quickly learned by Green Venture’s Garden Coordinator Julia Shulist when preparing to launch the Riverdale Community Garden Project. Peeking out of a large mound of soil were tiny turtle eggs! Being the environmentally conscious and animal loving type of person she is, all work was stopped until Julia could figure out what to do with these little guys. Through contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources we were pointed to a volunteer based, non-profit animal rescue in our area that focuses on native Ontario Wildlife that had recently added Snapping Turtles to their list of animals eligible to be assisted! Continue reading

Climate Change Action of the Month: Depave Paradise

On September 27th and October 4th, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School and Green Venture, a local not-for-profit, teamed up to host Hamilton’s second and largest Depave Paradise.

On September 27th, a crew of over 30 staff, students, parents, volunteers and members of the community removed over 1400 square feet of asphalt from the schoolyard to increase the school’s green, play space.On October 4th, over 50 volunteers came back to fill the space with a native species rain garden.

This was Green Venture’s biggest Depave Paradise project after Depaving St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School in 2012 and it will add to the over 10,000 square feet depaved across Canada through the Depave Paradise program. To learn more, please visit www.depaveparadise.ca/.

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For pictures from the Depave Day on September 27th, click here. For pictures from the Planting Day on October 4th, click here.
Removing asphalt and concrete renews and beautifies community spaces. Demonstration projects like St. Margaret Mary help to build sense of community and motivate participants to consider other depaving projects. Beyond the community building, the benefits of depaving are numerous. They include:
  • Increasing green, community space by adding in a natural playgrounds, community vegetable gardens, trees, rain gardens, or other permeable surfaces
  • Decreasing the heat island effect to help cool things down
  • Decreasing the runoff of stormwater to lower its impacts on our sewers and help improve our community’s water quality

We would like to give CN EcoConnexions: From the Ground Up and Shell Fuelling Change a huge thank you for their generous support of this project.

Gardening in the Shade

Having a garden on your property is beneficial in many ways, but sometimes we’re challenged when there’s a tree blocking the sun, a fence or even when the direction of the sun just doesn’t quite reach the area where you want to plant. Gardening in the shade can be tough. Choosing the proper plants that suit the lighting requirements is very important. Another thing to consider when planting in the shade, is to choose plants that are able to withstand lots of moisture. Since the sun isn’t quite hitting the garden, the moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

At Green Venture, we recommend perennial plants that are native to the region. That way there will be less pests, and they will attract our much needed pollinators. When choosing these plants, it is important that you do your research to find out if these plants can withstand shade and moisture.

Perennial Native Plants that can withstand shade and moisture:

Foam FlowerFoam Flower

Ostrich FernOstrich Fern

Soloman's SealSolomon’s Seal

Wooly Blue Violet Wooly Blue Violet

Wild GingerWild Ginger Tall Bell FlowerTall Bell Flower
Wild GeraniumWild Geranium Fridge SedgeFringed Sedge

WintergreenWintergreen

 

A great tip for a shaded garden is to go with a woodland garden theme. Native shade tolerant plants make an excellent woodland garden. Luckily, there are still lots of plants to choose from, with a variety of different colours, shapes, and sizes. Even though a garden may be dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t brighten it up with some plants!

Don’t give up, and remember that you can plant in all sorts of light, you just have to remember the golden rule: Always remember to choose the proper plants for the proper place.

Now get planting!

Written by: Stacey Almas

Xeriscaping – Water Wise Gardening

Would you like a garden that is low maintenance and stress free? A xeriscape garden is just for you!

Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that reduces the need for extra watering or irrigation as an alternative to various types of traditional gardening. In the past, helping plants survive drought meant turning on the sprinkler but now there’s a more water efficient way of gardening that saves on water and on time called xeriscaping.

Drought tolerant species make gardening easier and help reduce the amount of water you are using. By having a xeriscape garden, you conserve water, save money, and have more time to enjoy in your garden! Not only do these gardens benefit you, but they also give your property a beautiful garden. There are many interesting drought tolerant species that can be placed in xeriscape gardens, which can make your garden unique and different. Some plants that can be used in xeriscaping include succulent plants, trees and shrubs, perennials, drought tolerant annuals and ornamental grasses.

At Green Venture, we recommend planting native species. There are several benefits of xericape gardening but choosing native plants will also help attract our much needed pollinators! (Birds, butterflies and bees)

Here are a few examples of native drought tolerant perennial species:


You can have a lot of fun with designing and making your very own xeriscape garden. You can do this by choosing a variety of different colours, shapes and sizes. A great way to make your garden unique is by adding ornamental grasses. They add texture, and depth to your garden and will also give your garden some winter interest.

Xeriscape gardens are unique, help you save time and money and most important help reduce the amount of wasted water.  I hope to see more of these gardens around!

 

Written By:

Stacey Almas (Summer Ecohouse Green Gardener) 

Helpful Insects in the Garden

Do you have trouble determining which insects you see in your garden? Not sure which are helpful and which are harmful? Green Venture summer student Aaron, who studies etymology at university, has compiled a list of 5 helpful and 5 harmful bugs which are common in the garden. Take a look at this list of 5 helpful insects, find out why they are good, and look for them in your garden!

What: Bees, Flies, Moths and Butterflies – Pollinators

Why they are good for the garden: Pollination is a needed service for any garden. The pollinators such as bees, hover flies and butterflies allow plants to reproduce, fruit, and genetically grow. As these pollinators land on the flowers surface, the pollen on the stamen (male parts) gets transferred onto the insect (or collected, in the case of bees) and as the pollinator flies to the next flower some of that pollen is transferred to the pistol (female parts). This pollinates (or fertilizes) the plant, allowing for the growth of the seeds and fruit.

What: Assassin Bugs

Why they are good for the garden: Assassin Bugs are a great predator for natural control of insect pests in gardens. With their needle-like mouth parts they paralyze, inject liquefying enzymes into, and then suck up the internals of their prey. They feed upon any herbivorous insect pests you can think of, from aphids, to potato beetles, to caterpillars. They can be quite large (as big as 4 centimetres in length) but they are harmless to humans, if left alone. Assassin bugs can be found on the underside of leaves, stalking prey and keeping camouflaged.

What: Lady Bird Beetles

Why they are good for the garden: Lady Bird beetles are one of the best known natural controls for aphids, and have been used for centuries on crops for this purpose. Both their larval forms and adult forms are predatory, and can eat up to 400 aphids as larvae and up to 5,000 aphids in a one year lifespan. A single Lady Bird beetle can also lay up to 1,000 eggs. Unfortunately, due to their popularity, many species were brought over to increase their control abilities. One of the most well known and most common lady bird beetles in North America, the Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), is now an invasive species and out-competes native Lady Bird beetles for resources, thus endangering them (see pictures below for the difference between the two species).

What: Parasitic Wasps

Why they are good for the garden: Parasitic wasps have gotten a lot of recent attention in Integrated Pest Management, especially in greenhouses, for the control of many herbivorous insect pests. Parasitic wasps have even become available for purchase to every day gardeners. If purchased, they are shipped on strips of card board that have eggs or pupae glued to them and can be hung in the garden. The wasps will then hatch, fly to the pest which will be their host, and use their ovipositor (egg laying structure) to inject eggs into the host. The larvae hatch and eat the pest from the inside out, causing the adult wasps to emerge from the dead host, fly away and parasitize more of the pest, thus controlling the population. These parasitic wasps are very host specific, so the ones on the market will not target anything other than the pest needing control. The wasp can parasitize a variety of species from tiny aphids to large caterpillars.

What: Ants

Why they are good for the garden: Ants are one of the best beneficial insects to have in a garden. Mound building varieties of ants act as great natural tillers; with their complex tunnel excavation, they bring up soils from lower horizons and help mix in nutrients from the surface. They also can help in plant growth, as they take seeds they find at the surface and place them in certain chambers of their nest to grow. Some species harvest fungi, which helps in providing valuable nitrogen for the soil, which is an essential nutrient for plants. They are also fairly territorial, and will ward off large unwanted pests such as caterpillars. That being said, some ant species will tend to aphids, farming them for their sweet excretions, and causing their population numbers to explode at a faster rate. If this is the case, be sure to handle an aphid problem quickly, but leave the ants be!

 

Stay tuned for the next blog about which insects can be harmful in your garden!

 

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Written by Aaron F. and edited by Rebecca J.

 

Rain Gardens: A Guide to Colour, A Guide to Wildlife

Building rain gardens is a truly wonderful way to minimize the amount of storm water runoff that ends up in to the sewers, and consequently in the Hamilton Harbour.  Strategically placing them in down-sloped areas or underneath downspouts is ideal for limiting the amount of runoff from your property.  However, another factor to consider is how this garden will look, and what type of wildlife you would like to attract.

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris

 

In general, birds are attracted to plants that bear fruits and seeds.  Some examples of native rain garden plants that are best suited to birds are High Bush Cranberry, Cardinal Flower, Chokeberry, and fruit-bearing shrubs and trees.

 

Butterflies and bees are attracted to plants with nectars, pollens, and saps to extract.  These insects act as pollinators, moving pollens and nectars so that other plants may flourish.  Some examples of native rain garden species suited to attracting bees and butterflies are Cardinal flower, Sneezeweed, Turtlehead, Bee Balm, Joe Pye Weed, and various types of Milkweed.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on Cardinal Flower

 

It should be noted that rain gardens will not attract mosquitoes, since they require at least 6 days of standing water to breed, and a properly functioning rain garden will drain in less than 24 hours.  In fact, rain gardens attract other insects, such as dragonflies, which prey on mosquitoes.

 

 

 

Here are some native species that will provide colour and diversity to beneficial native insects and birds:

 

Fox Sedge (Carex  vulpinoides) and other native sedges

Dark-green Bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens)

Soft stem Bulrush (Scirpus validus)

Red Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Blue flag iris (Iris virginicus)

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilatica)

Golden Alexanders (Zizea aurea)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Virginia Mountain-mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

 

This plant list was provided by St. Williams Nursery.  You can visit their website here: http://www.stwilliamsnursery.com/

 

 

Green Venture is currently involved in the Shell Fuelling Change competition.   Our project will build rain gardens with residents in a neighbourhood that has a history of flooding during intense rainfall.

Every vote counts!

Please help us out in this competition by voting for our program here:

http://fuellingchange.com/main/project/407/Healthy-Harbour-Flood-My-Rain-Garden

 

Posted by Edward

 

 

Flood and Mud: Using Rain Gardens to Control Erosion and Flooding

We have had quite the rainy summer in southern Ontario this year! Have you noticed issues with flooding or soil erosion in your garden? If so, constructing a rain garden may be an excellent way to minimize this problem.

If you live in a particularly hilly area, rain gardens can be an ideal way to minimize flooding issues because they are able to hold more water than a regular garden, and  help to prevent soil from washing away.  Rain gardens can also be used in conjunction with rain barrels to capture substantial runoff from your property.

Rain Gardens at Ecohouse

Rain Gardens at EcoHouse

It’s easy to construct your own rain garden! For details on construction, visit http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/la/la_005.cfm.  Remember, in order to capture the maximum amount of water, try to strategically place your rain garden in depressed areas where water naturally pools or where downspout water will collect.

Once you have constructed your rain garden, it is important to plant native species in it.  Native plants are accustomed to local conditions, and have deeper roots to increase the permeability of your soil.

Foxglove Beardtongue

Foxglove Beardtongue

As your plants mature, their roots continue to spread, increasing the amount of water your garden will be able to hold.  Remember that most water will be stored in the centre of the garden, similar to a large bowl.  Cardinal Flower, Foxglove Beardtongue, Joe Pye Weed and Service Berry are a few examples of plants we have in the middle of our own rain gardens at Green Venture because they favour a wetter environment. For a list of native shrubs and plants, visit http://water.greenventure.ca/rain-gardens.

 

Green Venture is currently involved in the Shell- Fuelling Change competition.   Our aim is to build community awareness and support for lot-level storm water management measures, like rain gardens.

Currently, just over 800 more votes gets us in the top 4! Please help us out in this competition by voting for our program here:

http://fuellingchange.com/main/project/407/Healthy-Harbour-Flood-My-Rain-Garden

 

 

Posted by Edward

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