Clean up & tree walk a great success!

Thanks to the approximately 20 volunteers who cleaned up Carlington Park on Saturday May 4, 2019. The forecast did not disappoint and by 11:30 it was perfect conditions for litter lugging! Many of our volunteers clean up the park whenever they come and several people remarked on how clean the park had been recently. Thanks you to all of you, you are making a big difference! Keep it up!

Thanks as well to the Carlington Community Association for helping spread the word and for donating prizes. The bubble blowers were a real hit with the kids, and let’s hope all those wild flower seeds take root!

Record turnout

For the second time in three years, Owen Clarkin, Chair of Conservation of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, shared his tree-identifying expertise and enthusiasm at the Tree Discovery Walk. Watch video of some of the walk on our Facebook page.

Almost 60 people turned out to learn more about Carlington’s trees. Many had never been to the park before and even some who lived nearby had no idea that such a rich, urban forest was right on their doorstep.

Trees provide a window into history

Owen explained that the area was predominantly limestone with alkaline soil, so it’s perfect for a wide variety of deciduous tree species. Conifers would have traditionally grown in this area as well, but were likely cut down in favour of other, more economically valuable trees. Just west of Carlington Park is an old limestone quarry, now a city snow dump.

The Clyde Woods, where the majority of the walk took place, has had many uses over the years, including as farm or pasture land and as a woodlot. One of Carlington’s long-time residents said that livestock were once driven through the area to the Experimental Farm lands to the east.

The presence of ironwood seems to prove it. Ironwood is very slow growing but is the densest and hardest wood of any native tree species. Owen noted that it’s often a hold-over tree from where cow herds were pastured or raised.

Rich biodiversity

Owen pointed out sugar maple, slippery elm, butternut, bitternut hickory, ironwood, and birch. There were some rock elms, but many were dead or dying. Owen, who grows rock elms, has offered to donate some seedlings to help reintroduce them to the Clyde Woods. Friends of Carlington Hill has accepted Owen’s offer. If you’re interested in volunteering for this project, let us know: friendsofcarlingtonhill@gmail.com.

We always want to have a variety of species because we don’t know what may be at risk next. City forests help ensure biodiversity.

Owen Clarkin

Other elm species (slippery, Siberian, American) were ravaged by Dutch elm disease in the 1960s through the 1980s but are making a limited comeback. “About 30% of elms survive Dutch elm disease,” said Owen. “They’ll probably shake it off eventually, but rock elms are on life support.”

White ash trees are in even worse shape. They are critically endangered. The species has been virtually wiped out by the emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia. There, ash trees have learned to co-exist with the bug; not so their Canadian cousins. The small saplings that continue to come up are safe from the insect while young, but are at very high risk as they grow.

Lest we forget the smaller plants Owen also pointed out many spring ephemerals that grow in areas like this, including bloodwort, trout lily, and trillium. These young spring plants only appear for a few weeks then disappear back into the soil. We’ve got more information on spring ephemerals and lots more on our Facebook page. Or follow us on Twitter @CarlingtonHill.

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