Ecology in the Glebe

Ecology Guide

Brown’s Inlet Revitalization- Step Two

Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale

Glebe Report Ecology Guide


Last month I suggested that you might take up the challenge of renewing the tree cover in the Glebe, replanting the breaches left by the ash borer and the gaps in the canopy due to storm damage and old age.

The Environment Committee of the Glebe Community Association and the Glebe Community Network of Ecology Ottawa are happy to provide advice and support. We have put together this insert that contains the results of our research on characteristics, local availability and suitability of a selection of trees. Consult and use as the need arises. Keep in mind that we are seeking to foster diversity, not overplanted, mostly native, climate change adaptive trees in the Glebe. Since the best times to plant trees are in the spring and fall, I suggest that you might want to get started now.


On the next three pages are listed trees we all might want to see planted in our neighbourhood. Many factors must be taken into consideration in making your choices.

PHYSICAL CONDITIONS: Moisture, light, soil of the planting site are important. We have also made a special list of trees that are salt-tolerant – if your spot is exposed to the street and winter street-clearing operations, this should be a consideration.

NATIVE SPECIES: In general, planting native trees, adapted to our local environment, particularly those that are resistant to pests, drought and pollution, is preferred to introduce species which often contribute less to our ecology. If you spot “volunteers” tree seedlings that are sprouting up on their own – consider asking the property owner if you can transplant the youngster before the landscapers and lawnmowers move in.

DIVERSITY IS KEY: We would want to steer clear of some trees that are overabundant. Further, genetic diversity is an issue – a few of the trees that are (over) planted by the City are rumoured to be clones – honey locusts, for example.

CLIMATE CHANGE: We are expecting more heat waves and droughts, more extreme wind events, and according to some, more freezing rain. Adaptation would speak to looking to the south of us for robust species. Assisted migration? Maybe not too farfetched – the climate in the next 100 years may be changing as much as it changed over thousands of years before.

COMMERCIAL AVAILABILITY: We did a scan of nurseries and local tree supply available. Trees that appear to be not readily available have been noted in the “Desirable, but hard to find” box.

MATTERS OF THE HEART: Many of us have fond childhood memories of a beloved tree.

Alternate-Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

dogwood treeThe Alternate-Leaf Dogwood is the tallest (almost tree-like) of many attractive native and under-utilized Dogwoods. It is also called Pagoda Dogwood for its attractive horizontal tiers of branches on older trees. Its berries are a favourite food of summer songbirds.

Mature size: Up to 7 m (22 ft) tall, trunk 5-15 cm (2-6 in) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers evenly moist soils
Shade: Prefers partial shade, full sun with ample moisture
Soil: Prefers well-drained, deep soils

Note: To provide understory species like Alternate-Leaf Dogwood with even moisture all year long, mulch well with 8 cm (3 in) of bark mulch, or plant near the sloped edge of a water feature where the roots can access water in the heat of the summer.

Basswood (Tilia americana)
basswoodBasswood is a handsome and large shade tree, which should be planted more extensively than it is. Bees love Basswood flowers because they bloom in midsummer, when few other trees are in bloom.

Mature size: 18-21 m (60-70 ft) but up to 35 m (115 ft) tall, trunk 60-75 cm (2-2.5 ft) but up to 120 cm (4 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers moist soils
Shade: Can grow in full shade or full sun
Soil: Prefers rich, well-drained soils

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
bitternut hickory
Bitternut Hickory resembles an ash tree from a distance and could be a good “ash substitute” now that ashes are disappearing. The nuts, as the name applies, are inedible.

Mature size: 15-20 m (50-66 ft) tall, trunk 30-80 cm (1-2.7 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers moisture
Shade: Prefers sun but can tolerate partial shade
Soil: Prefers rich soil

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Bur Oak has been commonly planted in Ottawa where it achieves massive dimensions due to tolerance of urban conditions and inherent longevity. Mature specimens look rugged from a distance, like “haunted house” trees. It is little affected by air pollution. Bur Oak should be planted more due to its combination of strong wood, urban tolerance and freedom from pests.

Mature size: 15-30 m (50-100 ft) tall, trunk 60-120 cm (2-4 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Tolerates a wide variety of moisture conditions, tolerates drought because its roots grow deep into the ground
Shade: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate moderate shade
Soil: Can grow in a variety of soils

Note: The Bur Oak’s roots grow deep into the soil, so plant it where there are no underground pipes.

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Chokecherry is a small tree or tall shrub with attractive foliage and fruit. It is most noticeable in flower, with many dense, white, elongated clusters of 5-petalled flowers, which then become clusters of round shiny fruits, varying from yellow to red or almost black. The fruit is an important food source for birds. Chokecherry is a good candidate for more extensive planting.

Mature size: Up to 9 m (30 ft) tall, trunk 15 cm (6 in) in diameter
Moisture: Moist to average soils
Shade: Prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade
Soil: Prefers rich, well-drained soils

Note: Chokecherry can be trained as a single-stemmed tree but will often sucker from the roots at the base of the stem. To reduce root suckering, carefully tear the young shoots off with your hands instead of cutting with sharp tools.

Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Eastern White Cedar
A native, small, hardy, slow-growing tree. It usually lives for about 200 years but can occasionally live much longer. Found both as tree and hedge row or shelter belt. Dense foliage down to ground level obstructs visibility. Needs protection from soil salt and road salt spray from vehicles.

Mature size: 9-16 m (30-50 ft) tall
Moisture: Prefers moist sites
Shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Well-drained clay, sand, loam

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

Hawthorns are useful for their ability to tolerate dry, windy areas, but due to sharp thorns, are not recommended for schoolyard plantings. The loggerhead shrike, which is critically endangered in Canada, prefers Hawthorn-rich areas as its habitat because of these thorns. Like crabapples, Hawthorn fruits contain high levels of pectin and have been used to make jams and jellies. Hawthorns make good candidates for more extensive planting.

Mature size: Up to 12 m (40 ft) tall, trunk 25-30 cm (10-12 in) in diameter
Moisture: Moist to dry
Shade: Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade
Soil: Adaptable, especially to high pH soils

Hop-hornbeam (also known as Ironwood) (Ostrya virginiana)
Hop Hornbeam
Hop-hornbeam or Ironwood is another relative of the birches. This tree is called Hop-hornbeam because the maturing clusters of fruit look like hops. Hop-Hornbeam is a slow-growing tree adapted to many situations, except on waterlogged soils where the similarly sized Blue-Beech thrives.

Mature size: 7-12 m (25-40 ft) but up to 18 m tall, trunk 15-25 cm (6-10 in) but up to 60 cm (2 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Moist to dry
Shade: Very shade-tolerant but tolerates full sun with ample moisture
Soil: Prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils

Note: If planted in full sun on lighter soils, will benefit from a large ring of bark mulch up to 8 cm (3 in) deep and supplemental watering to prevent leaf scorch in midsummer.

Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Hornbeam Owen Clarkin
The Hornbeam, also known as Blue-Beech, is a relative of the birches and is an attractive understorey tree. Blue Beech is also called Musclewood for its muscle-like ridges on the smooth-gray trunks. Good candidate for planting in shady places.

Mature size: A small tree, seldom more than 6 m (20 ft) tall, trunk up to 25 cm (10 in) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers moist and can tolerate seasonal flooding
Shade: Can tolerate full shade, and full sun with ample moisture
Soil: Prefers rich, well-drained soils

Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Kentucky Coffee
A native tree that is adaptable to a wide range of conditions, and tolerates city conditions. Very disease free.

Mature size: 15-25m tall,
Moisture: Adaptable
Shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Clay, sand, loam, humus enriched (forest floor)

Mountain Ashes (Two species: Sorbus decora, Sorbus americana)
Native Mountain Ash species are small northern trees, uncommon near Ottawa (although the non-native European Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) is common in Ottawa). The fruit is a favourite food for overwintering birds.

Mature size: 3-9 m (10-30 ft) tall, trunk 10-25 cm (4-10 in) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers moist ground, but can survive in dry conditions
Shade: Can tolerate some shade
Soil: Grows in a variety of soils

Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
red oak
Red Oak is a large shade tree that can grow well on good soils, while naturally growing in drier upland conditions. The Red Oak needs room to grow – it can tolerate shade when it’s younger, but needs full sun as it gets older. It doesn’t grow very well if it’s close to other trees.

Mature size: 20-30 m (66-100 ft) tall, trunk 30-90 cm (9-27 in) in diameter
Moisture: Can tolerate a variety of moisture levels
Shade: Prefers full sun, but can tolerate some shade
Soil: Grows in a variety of soils

Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.)
service berry saskatoon
Serviceberries is a group of similar species related to apples (Rose family) and are becoming commonly planted for their tasty and edible fruit. Serviceberries are a very adaptable group of species, attract wildlife and offer beautiful fall colours. Serviceberry fruits were a staple food of the Cree tribes of the Prairies, who mixed the dried berries with buffalo meat to make pemmican.

Mature size: Up to 12 m (40 ft) tall, trunk 7-30 cm (3-12 in) in diameter
Moisture: Moist to dry sites
Shade: Partial shade to full sun
Soil: Adaptable to all but water-logged soils

Silver Maple - Acer
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
The Silver Maple is a large, fast-growing tree and, although naturally a swamp and flood plain specialist, it can grow well on drier sites and tolerate soil compaction. Should not be planted close to foundations. The Silver Maple is very similar to the Red Maple. It’s a large tree, so make sure it will have plenty of room to grow.

Mature size: 24-27 m (80-90 ft) but up to 38 m (125 ft) tall, trunk 90-150 cm (3-5 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers moist soil
Shade: Slightly shade tolerant but prefers full sun
Soil: Prefers rich soil

Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum)
Striped maple Acer
The Striped Maple has large, beautiful, distinctive duck-foot-like leaves and striped green-white bark. The leaves turn yellow in the fall. This is a small understorey maple, a bit fussy about soil conditions and growing environment, and well adapted to a cool understorey.

Mature size: 10-13 m (30-40 ft) tall, trunk 25 cm (10 in) in diameter
Moisture: Prefers evenly moist soils
Shade: Prefers full to partial shade, dislikes hot summer sun
Soil: Prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soils

White Birch (Betula papyrifera)
white birch_
White Birch is also known as Paper Birch and Canoe Birch. It is the white-barked native birch of forests near Ottawa. White Birch trees are often used in landscaping because they will grow almost anywhere as long as they get enough sunlight. (Not European Silver Birch which is vulnerable to the Bronze Birch Borer).

Mature size: 25 m (80 ft) tall, trunk is 60 cm (2 ft) in diameter
Moisture: Can tolerate a variety of moisture levels
Shade: Needs full sun, intolerant to shade
Soil: Can tolerate a variety of soils

Note: The non-native European White Birch (Betula pendula) is frequently planted but is very susceptible to the native Bronze Birch Borer.

White Oak (Quercus alba)
The White Oak is a large shade tree with valuable wood, very pale mature bark and edible acorns. It can live for several hundred years. The White Oak is somewhat cold-sensitive yet hardy at Ottawa and, with global warming, this tree makes a good candidate for more extensive planting.

Mature size: 20-30 m (66-100 ft) tall, trunk 50-120 cm (1.7-4 feet) in diameter
Moisture: Tolerates a variety of moisture levels
Shade: Prefers full sun
Soil: Tolerates a variety of soils

Note: With its deep rooting system, it should not be planted close to septic tanks or drainage tiles.

Witch-Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
witch hazel owen clarkin
Witch-Hazel is an attractive small tree, that is notable for flowering in late autumn. It is a good candidate for planting more extensively in Ottawa. Witch-Hazel is somewhat pollution tolerant and relatively trouble-free.

Mature size: 6-7 m (20-25 ft) tall, trunk up to 15 cm (6 in) in diameter
Moisture: Best growth in moist, shaded sites
Shade: Full sun to partial shade
Soil: Prefers moist, cool, acidic soil

Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Yellow Birch is an attractive deep-forest species, often growing in association with Beech, Sugar Maple and Eastern Hemlock. It grows slowly and lives about 150 years.

Mature size: 18-22 m (60-75 ft) but occasionally up to 30 m (100 ft) tall, trunk 60 cm (2 ft) but up to 120 cm (4 ft)
Moisture: Prefers moist soil
Shade: Moderately shade-tolerant
Soil: Prefers rich soil

Sources: This list of suggestions draws heavily on the Tree Ottawa initiative of Ecology Ottawa (see and is compiled by Angela Keller-Herzog. All errors are hers but she benefitted from advice from a tree-loving motley crew that includes Owen Clarkin, Ann Coffey, Bettina Henkelman, Carla Hogan Rufelds and Peter Teitelbaum. Research regarding availability at local nurseries was contributed by Ecology Ottawa volunteers, Nathan Bowler and Monica Wu. If you would like to get involved with planting, protecting and promoting more trees in the Glebe, please contact Angela Keller-Herzog at or Carol MacLeod at


Peter Knippel Nursery
4590 Bank St., Ottawa

Greenlife Ottawa Wholesale Nursery
1776 Manotick Station Rd., Ottawa

Ferguson Forest Centre
275 County Rd. 44, RR#4, Kemptville

Carleton Place Nursery Ltd
County Rd. 29, Mississippi Mills

Pioneer Nursery Limited
632 Van Buren St., Kemptville

Richmond Nursery Inc
3440 Eagleson Rd., Ottawa

Manotick Tree Movers
1966 Carsonby Rd. West, North Gower

Legault Garden Center
1810 Highway 34, Hawkesbury

Creekside Garden Centre
5901 Ottawa St., Richmond

Make it Green Nursery
5200 Flewellyn Rd, Stittsville

Artistic Landscape Design
2079 Bank Pl, Ottawa

Ritchie Feed and Seed
1390 Windmill Ln, Gloucester

Desirable but hard to find in local nurseries:
Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)
Red Spruce (Picea rubens)
Black Maple (Acer nigrum)
Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)
Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

Salt tolerant trees:
Black Cherry
Black Oak
Bur Oak
Common Hackberry
Eastern Cottonwood
Eastern Red Cedar
Honey Locust
Kentucky Coffee Tree
Red Oak
Silver maple
Swamp White Oak
White Oak
White Spruce


Brown’s Inlet revitalization – step two

by Cindy Kirk and Carol MacLeod

Blue Heron visiting Brown’s Inlet in April 2014. Photo: Jeanette Rive
Blue Heron visiting Brown’s Inlet in April 2014. Photo: Jeanette Rive

How many species can you identify that inhabit the two ponds of Brown’s Inlet in the Glebe? Have you noticed blue herons, fish, tadpoles, ducks and turtles? A broad diversity of plant life also exists at the ponds including many trees, lichen and bushes.

Over recent years, local residents have noticed a decline in the wildlife species and the erosion of the natural environment at both ponds. Is this really happening? If so, why and what can we do to address it? In the November 2013 Glebe Report, the Glebe Community Association (GCA) Environment Committee wrote about a project to revitalize the ponds, partnering with the city and the National Capital Commission (NCC) and in consultation with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA). In January a working group formed at a community meeting. That group is now beginning to develop a project plan to present to the community for discussion. But already first steps have been taken.


The working group has articulated a mandate: to maintain and enhance the biodiversity of the two Brown’s Inlet ponds and surrounding lands and to provide leadership and education so that residents and visitors value and protect this unique space in our community.


Early in April, pond neighbours on Ralph Street began collecting the winter’s accumulation of bagged dog feces, discarded bundles of flyers, paper and plastic cups, broken beer bottles, bags, both plastic and paper, and assorted detritus left in the park and surrounding shrubbery.

On Saturday, April 26, a good crowd continued removing all those things that don’t just biodegrade. Dominion Lending Centres – The Mortgage Source, which has adopted the park, provided coffee and treats. Many thanks to all. Now the park is shiny and clean. Let’s keep it that way!


RVCA experts told us that turtles need sunny basking spots to aid digestion. They thought that a contributor to toad decline could be that carp were yumming up frog spawn and fish fry because eggs and minnows had no protection. Spurred by the fact that Parks Canada filled the canal (and the Inlet ponds) in late April, the working group approached the city and the NCC to place two turtle basking rafts, one at the Ralph Street end of each pond. The city also helped us get logs and branches to anchor along the shoreline to provide protection for eggs. These were installed after the park cleanup. In future we may put in a duck nesting box or two.


One exciting initiative is the bright yellow “biobox” that you’ll have noticed at the Craig Street end of the upper pond. The biobox contains paper and pen; we’re asking you to note park observations such as unusual bird, animal and plant sightings, when you see the first heron of spring in the pond, or when the wood ducklings return. This information will help us document the ponds’ biodiversity to help in thinking about what species we can encourage. Already a “pond steward” has documented over 50 plants that grow around the ponds, including shrubs and trees. We also have a local birding expert who’s been tracking bird life at the ponds for several years.

Did you know, for example, that the neighbourhood has hosted three colonies of the threatened chimney swifts? One is at Southminster Church and a second is at Fourth Avenue Baptist Church. The third was in the Mutchmor School chimney, which the Board of Education capped this past winter.

A second biobox will be installed later this year near the lower pond.


We are inviting the Glebe community to help catalogue wildlife and plant species, both aquatic and land-based. To do so, we are planning a community “bioblitz” for Saturday, May 31. We hope to have experts on birds, turtles and frogs available to advise us.

If you live in the Glebe and have these special skills, we’d be very happy to have you join us! We may encourage participants to work in teams. The bioblitz will take place from 7:30 a.m. (best for bird life) until noon. The information we gather will be critical to formulating a revitalization plan for the ponds.

For more information, see the Environment Committee page at the GCA website (, or if you can offer expertise, please contact us at

Cindy Kirk and Carol MacLeod are members of the GCA Environment Committee.


Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale

By Lars Wessman

Ecology Ottawa is hosting its seventh annual Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale on May 24 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of Rogers Plus and Kunstadt Sports (680 and 690 Bank Street) as part of the Great Glebe Garage Sale.

Wessman, L 8962579778_7d44433bb2_o
Ecology Ottawa’s Great GREEN Garage Sale will take place May 24 in the Rogers/Kunstadt parking lot. Photo: Courtesy of Ecology Ottawa

The Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale has become a carnival unto itself that community members look forward to each year. It has become one of Ecology Ottawa’s flagship annual events. What started as a humble fundraiser in 2008 has grown into a massive event that – in addition to the garage sale – now features a vegetarian barbeque (join us for lunch), a bake sale (including hot coffee at the crack of dawn) and live musical performances.

We also have massage therapists to help you relax after a long day of shopping, fun activities for kids of all ages and much, much more! Back by popular demand, we will also have a water bottle refilling station on site, as well as portable public washrooms for the community’s use (at the ready when nature calls).

The event has raised over $40,000 to date. All items sold at the event are collected from over 200 supporters from across the city and all proceeds raised go to charity (90 per cent to Ecology Ottawa and 10 per cent to the Ottawa Food Bank). More than 100 passionate volunteers coordinate the myriad tasks that must be done during the day. Without them, this event would not be possible. We have attracted widespread interest from throughout the community and the media.


A great event like this needs a team of great volunteers and donations of useful and well-loved items that need a new home! We are looking for volunteers who can join our leadership team, to sort donations, pick up and drop off donations (if you have access to a car!) and participate on the day of the event itself, as well as in the days following.

Wouldn’t you like to have the warm feeling of greening your world by having our team of volunteers pick up your used items and sell them to help Ecology Ottawa and the Ottawa Food Bank? We’ll accept anything and everything that is in good working order: clothes, books, movies, music, kitchen stuff, furniture, electronics, artwork, kids stuff, sports gear, thingamajigs, whatchamacallits… you name it! In addition, we will be hosting a bake sale, so if you have great talents in the kitchen, we’d love to distribute your creations to the world!

For more details about how to volunteer or donate to Ecology Ottawa’s Great Glebe GREEN Garage Sale, please visit

We’re looking forward to seeing you, working with you and having a lot of fun in the sun!

Lars Wessman is the communications coordinator for Ecology Ottawa.


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