Naturescaping Tips for a lovely Garden Year Round

Red Osier Dogwood Stems Flickr Credit Erik JacksonWhile you might not be thinking too much about naturescaping in the chilly, frosty weather here's something to warm you up to the idea.

When you plan your plantings, make sure to incorporate evergreen varieties of native plants and plants with attractive features in winter such as:

  • Kinnikinick
  • Oregon Grape
  • Stonecrop
  • Sword and licorice fern
  • Red Osier-Dogwood (beautiful stems in winter - photo left)

For a more extensive list of evergreen native plants check out this one put together by the Capital Regional Disctrict.

Another good idea to give your garden character in the mostly bloomless months is to incorporate attractive hardscape design, in the form of rock placement and other permanent features such as bird baths that can also enhance habitat for wildlife. Wood features, although less permanent, can also add some interest to a winterscape. A fallen branch or log can be incoporated in a way that is not only attractive, but offers a source of nutrients for widlife and other plants.

For more tips on creating a native garden in our region Louise Goulet's presentation offers many helpful insights from designing to maintaing your naturescape. Click here for more inspiration.

Photo left Red Osier Dogwood Stems in early spring: By Erik Jackson.

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Paths to Nature

robins egg ANA little girl of about 5 years old, hops along the stepping stones of her Grandmother’s garden. Stopping under a coniferous tree she spies the lovely blue of a cracked egg shell. “Look! a Robin’s egg!” says Grandma. It is around this time that the little girl decides, blue is my favourite colour, Robin’s egg blue.

Later on Grandma laments the small, dark and speckled birds, “Starlings, those awful things. They’ll kick other bird’s young out of their nests Somewhere in the mind of that little girl the concept of an invasive species takes a very rough form, waiting to be molded and put to good use.

The next day while watering the garden, Grandma finds a fuzzy bee buzzing helplessly in a pool of water. Little bright eyes watch with wonder as Grandma gently lifts the bedraggled bee onto a stone to dry. “Let’s call her Isabelle the Bee.” Every time a particularly plump and fuzzy bee is spotted in the Garden, it’s considered a visit from Isabelle the rescued bee. Perhaps, Isabelle was in fact a male worker bee, but what the child remembers most from this is that bees are good, bees are not scary.

A single father who loves to hunt and fish, takes his little girl out to forests and lakes in search of game. She loves to reach into the water, sometimes leaning in a bit too far. “There’s not a lake in the CRD you haven’t fallen into,” says Dad.

This outdoorsy Dad takes his growing little girl fishing on the ocean, but she is more interested in what she can see and less in what she can catch. Sea stars, Dungeness Crabs, Spot Prawns, Rock Cod, Salmon, Seals, wow! “Can we stop along this beach, Daddy?” Among the beach rocks the little girl stands holding a sun-bleached jaw bone. “Look at those flat teeth for grinding, it’s a deer’s jaw,” says Dad.

Ranging across hill, bluff, and meadow the not so little girl follows deer trails in the Sooke Hills collecting wildflowers. One of every type, until she can’t hold anymore, to make a bouquet for someone special. She creates her own names for plants along the way. Squid Flower is her common name for Miner’s Lettuce with its pink to green radiating tentacles of foliage. Proudly presenting her collection to Daddy, he remarks, “Those flowers are beautiful, but you shouldn’t pick them.” After that, she learns to take photos instead of plucking flowers, and then later to learn their proper names.

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Marigold Elementary children create habitat for bees in midst of McKenzie Interchange construction

marigold planting resizeOn November 17th, 2016, over 45 students from École Marigold Elementary School broke ground naturescaping a garden of their very own, a habitat-focused learning space created through the Green Spots school program by Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT).

“By creating something positive to focus on in the midst of this large McKenzie Interchange construction project, we are bringing student’s attention to what they can do for our remaining Garry Oak habitats. The students are very passionate about nature on their school grounds and want to ensure it stays protected.” - Paige Erickson-McGee, HAT Stewardship Coordinator.

Empowering young learners to care for nature, students prepared the site for this naturally-inspired meadow, and enthusiastically removed invasive English Ivy from Garry Oak habitat at the school.

In a collaboration between HAT, Marigold Elementary, and the District of Saanich, the students of Marigold gleefully discovered how wildlife habitat can be found and nurtured all around them, even at school.

planting plan marigold

The Ministry of Transportation allowed a salvage of native plants within the interchange construction area with salvaged Fawn Lily bulbs planted into the garden afterward.

Wildflowers like camas, fawn lilies, and native grasses that once flourished under the majestic Garry oaks of Marigold’s fields were brought back by the students, and with bees and butterflies in mind, children sipped on Licorice Fern tea. Marigold’s new meadow offers learning opportunities for many. Pollinators, seasonal changes, and Indigenous uses for plants are just a few learning opportunities.
HAT coordinates this project through their free outdoor learning program, Green Spots, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Province of BC’s Community Gaming Grant.


If you would like to support HAT in providing nature education to local kids through Green Spots visit hat.bc.ca/donate or call 250-995-2428. For those interested in volunteering please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Click read more below for the list of native plants used for this project.

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What's the Buzz? Pollinator Expert Headlines at Local Conservation Gathering

bee and nootka roseThursday, Jan 26th, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (505 Quayle Rd.) will host Habitat Acquisition Trust’s Annual General Meeting and Social at their lovely Pavilion.

Habitat Acquisition Trust offers a warm welcome to anyone in the community, and encourages attendees to invite friends, family, and neighbours. Though membership is required to vote at the meeting, all are welcome and attendance is free including bites to eat, as well as refreshments sponsored by Whole Foods Market Victoria. Arrive early to secure you seat, as the Pavilion may fill up fast! We're kicking off with a half hour of socializing with everyone from biologists to outdoors enthusiasts, this is an excellent chance to network with the natural history and conservation community.

Special guest speaker Lora Morandin, Ph. D. of Pollinator Partnership Canada, will share a talk on native pollinators. Bringing her experience from the publication of over 20 peer-reviewed articles on pollinators and sustainable agriculture, Dr. Morandin will provide insight into the natural history of local pollinators, threats faced by bees and other species, and the helpful role that individuals can play in enhancing pollinator habitat in their own backyards.

"Local initiatives can add up to large benefits for pollinators, and Pollinator Partnership Canada is excited to be working with Habitat Acquisition Trust to help maintain and enhance pollinator populations on Vancouver Island” – Dr. Morandin

With concerns about declines and the endangered species listings of bees making international headlines, many are wondering what they can do to support pollinators locally. This event is sure to answer those buzzing questions and provide positive motivation for the New Year.

“Pollinators are responsible for about 1/3 of the food we eat, and are needed to pollinate wild flowers and sustain ecosystems. There are over 20,000 species of bees worldwide, of which the managed European honey bee is just one. But, some bee and other pollinator populations are declining, most likely due to habitat loss, diseases, invasive species, climate change, and insecticide use. Creating habitat for bees and other pollinators, from small urban gardens to large conservation areas, is an important action that can provide much needed floral and nesting resources,” explains Dr. Morandin.

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Last chance!

give and receive Have you made your 2016 tax-deductible charitable donation?

Donate by December 31st to receive a charitable tax receipt on your 2016 return.

It's not too late! Please mark your calendar and schedule time to make your yearend donations. We accomplished so much in 2016 and with your help can do even more in 2017.

For many Canadians, it’s by leveraging these tax benefits that they can give more generously to preserve our natural heritage. It makes them feel good and with their larger gift, it enables the charities they support to do more. Now, that’s a good thing for everyone from Western Screech Owls families to our local communities!

Haven't claimed a tax-receiptable donation in the last 5 year? Haven't made a donation yet?

Take advantage of the First-time Donor's Super Credit. 

The First Time Donor’s Super Credit offers you an over-and-above 25% one-time tax credit on your charitable gifts up to $1,000. It’s available to any Canadian who is new to charitable giving or has not claimed a charitable donation in the last five years.

Together we can do more for nature, for our futures.

first time

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