Kingston Field Naturalists

KFN Winter Foods and Shelter for Wildlife Garden

by Sharon David

In March 1995 the Board of Directors of the Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN) decided to participate in the Gardens at Landon Bay Project at the Landon Bay Environmental Learning Centre (Landon Bay Vacation Centre), Gananoque (Ontario). It was decided a garden that would benefit wildlife during the winter months be installed, and planning the "Winter Food and Shelter for Wildlife" garden began.

As most people view gardening as a spring and summer enjoyment, many often forget the benefits and beauty of plants that produce seeds or fruits that remain into the harsh winter months and provide nourishment to wildlife for winter survival. It was my goal in planning this garden that it be model garden whereby anyone interested in increasing the wildlife attractiveness of their property could view trees, shrubs and vines that provide food and shelter to wildlife during winter. After viewing these plants it was hoped that people would be more aware of the need to provide food and shelter during winter and would plant some of these trees, shrubs or vines in their gardens.

Please check out the KFN page on Trees and Shrubs for Wildlife for more information on what to plant to attract wildlife.

The KFN garden was meant to be an addition and enhancement of the current Landon Bay habitat, while being beneficial to the wildlife. This garden could not have been constructed without a grant obtained from Canada Trust's Friends of the Environment Foundation, which was used for plant and wood purchases, or without tree donations from the Ministry of Natural Resources (Kemptville).

The Landon Bay Environmental Learning Centre (LBELC), under the guidance of the Barbara Heck Foundation, is located approximately 6 kilometres East of Gananoque along the Thousand Islands Parkway. It is approximately 70 hectares of diverse habitats that includes fields, young and old growth forest, and two Class 3 wetlands (Landon Bay and Halstead Creek). It is also next to an A.N.S.I. (Area of Natural, and Significant Importance). A small camp ground helps fund the maintenance of the property, and the Learning Centre provides summer instruction on natural history and respect of the environment to children of all ages. If you would like to find out more information about the Gardens at Landon Bay Project, or would be interested in planting a garden of your own next spring, you can contact David Vincent at (613) 382-8926.

The KFN's garden (Figure 1) is the second largest of approximately 12 gardens installed this spring. These include Bog garden, Fern garden, Butterfly garden, Hummingbird garden, Relic garden, Wildflower garden, Two Sisters garden, and a garden by the Horticultural Society to name a few. There are currently 22 species of trees, shrubs and vines installed in the KFN garden. They include Highbush Cranberry, Nannyberry, Elderberry, Flowering Almond, Crab Apple, White Pine, Sumac, Red-osier Dogwood, Gray Dogwood, White Cedar, Red Cedar, Mountain Ash, Honeysuckle, Snowberry, Coralberry, Red Maple, Sugar Maple, Arrowwood, Crimson Hawthorn, Eastern Hemlock, Jack Pine, and Bittersweet Vine.

The wildlife in the LBELC area is underrated and the bird watching along the creek and lookout trail is truly good. From nesting Wood Ducks, to Pileated Woodpeckers, to Common Loons in Landon Bay and Scarlet Tanager near lookout rock, this area will become more renowned for its wildlife as more people start to walk the trails during the active birding seasons. Take a walk along the fern trail, the marsh trails to see the resident beavers, or view the Thousand Islands from lookout rock. Take a stroll to the Nature Centre and look at their nature displays and their touching exhibit. Or come by next spring to watch the Snapping Turtles lay their eggs near the Barbara Heck house, and return in September to look for the hatchlings. There are picnic tables and great drinking water, and swings so you can bring your children along. There is a lot for everyone to see and do, so please come on out and walk among the trees and shrubs and have a seat at the KFN bench that overlooks the garden and watch the sun set over Halstead Creek. After a pleasant leisure or hectic stroll through the park, go on home and decide what plants you want to grow in your own garden that will benefit the wildlife in your own backyard. You will be increasing your property value, and you will be providing food and/or shelter for future generations of wildlife.