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Old Ottawa South Community Association

Laura Wood, the city forester, inspects a well planted tree.

Old Ottawa South Residents Turn Out to Plant Trees

The Bridge-to-Bridge Reforestation Group, a collection of Old Ottawa South residents, has been planting and maintaining trees for more than a dozen years in the area between Bronson Avenue and Canal Woods Terrace. Many residents have remarked on the well-treed area south of the Bronson Bridge which comprises a healthy mix of trees including several varieties of spruce and pine as well as cedar, red oak, honey locust, and two progeny of the maple tree for which the Maple Leaf Forever was written. As an unintended acknowledgement of the group’s reforestation efforts, the neighbouring street, Bronson Place, was renamed Canal Woods Terrace.

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The Brewer Pond willow.

Brewer Pond’s Indestructible Willow

It narrowly escaped destruction during an early 90s development project. Volunteers replanted it; annual spring flooding along the Rideau River flattened it; and now its neighbours—who live in the beaver lodge down the bank—happily feast on it.

Each of its five, massive trunks—which snake in all directions from its core—sends up enough sinewy limbs to seem as if this one tree is growing an entire forest, all on its own. One of those limbs is arched like a secret doorway. Several have large chunks chewed out of them. Others, toppled and hanging on by strips, still sprout viable branches rippling with leaves.

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Trunk damage from a staking system that was removed too late.

Stop Strangling the Trees!

As someone who has drawn thousands of tree symbols on landscape plans over a 15-year career in landscape architecture, it is second nature for me to notice every tree I pass as I move through urban landscapes.

What is the surrounding environment? Does the tree have enough soil? Is it exposed to road salt? Has it been hit by a snowplow or damaged by a weed whacker? Was it planted at the right depth? Has a homeowner widened the driveway and removed a chunk of the root system? There are so many things to look for and as I do, I wonder how many of the trees on my plans have survived. Sadly, I know some have died from strangulation, or girdling as it is referred to with trees.

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Photo by Brendan McCoy.

Tree-Urban Canopy Subgroup Takes Root

On November 25, 2020, a new subgroup of the Enviro Crew of OOS – the Tree/Urban Canopy Subgroup – was formed when 16 motivated and talented residents of Old Ottawa South and beyond met virtually for the first time. Discussion covered the subgroup’s concept and vision, functions and roles, terms of reference and next steps, but the most inspiring part of the meeting was hearing about everyone’s interests and experiences. The diversity of skills, knowledge, and interest represented was very impressive and included: founding and operating charities, journalism and writing, studying impacts of trees on human health, environmental policy and planning, biology, landscape architecture, advocacy, community reforestation, and conducting tree censuses. Our collective passion for trees and forests and the many benefits they provide to individuals and society was very motivating, and there are high hopes for what this group of dedicated tree huggers can achieve together!

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Photo by Sandra Garland.

Leave the Leaves

Some Alternatives

We love our trees. All summer they absorb sunlight, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from the soil and turn them into new green leaves that shade us on hot days, keep moisture in the air and soil, and harbour a huge number of living organisms.

As the days get shorter and cooler, all those leaves will soon become a liability. They can no longer photosynthesize as the temperature drops, but they still lose water, especially when it’s windy. No problem. Deciduous trees in our part of the world have adapted to winter by sending some of the nutrients from their leaves back down into the roots for storage. That’s why they turn colour, by the way – chlorophyll components break down, revealing the previously masked oranges, yellows, and reds of other chemicals.

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Old Ottawa South's Community Garden Brigade
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613-247-4946