Ottawa Garden Days – Gardens Galore!


Photo: liNda bruCe
Photo: Linda Bruce

by Heather Clemenson

Do you like to visit interesting gardens? Have children or grandchildren whom you would like to introduce to gardening? Want to grow your own vegetables? Ottawa Garden Days will offer a variety of garden experiences for you and your family from June 16 to 24. The wide range of activities is for gardening enthusiasts, families, schools and tourists alike. Ottawa Garden Days is an opportunity for everyone to enjoy gardens, to visit or take part in their favourite garden experience, to be inspired at their local garden centre or to travel to a new nearby garden.

Ottawa Garden Days is part of a countrywide celebration of gardens and gardening in our communities and lives. This nine-day event draws attention to our garden history and gardening innovations and underlines the importance of public and private gardens, the values of home gardening and the promotion of environmental stewardship.

Perhaps you would also like to register and organize your own event as well as attending activities? All local gardens, garden centres, horticultural and plant societies, garden clubs, schools, garden-related businesses and community associations are invited to organize a Garden Days activity. You are invited to celebrate public gardens and home gardening whether for a few hours, a day, or the entire nine-day period. If you are interested in registering an activity we invite you to go to: Registration is a simple no-cost process.

Over 300 activities were listed across Canada For Garden Days last year and more than 25 were held in Ottawa. We hope to have many more this year.

Here are a few examples from last year to give you a taste of what to expect. The launch event saw the official opening of a new public garden at the Centre for Pluralism on Sussex Drive. A number of other public gardens, including the Central Experimental Farm’s Ornamental Gardens, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden and the historic Maplelawn Garden held open houses with volunteers on hand to give free tours and explain features of the gardens. The Dominion Arboretum held tours focusing on insect activity on the leaves, twigs and bark of various trees. An expert gardener at the Museum of Nature provided special one-hour workshops on creating and caring for a flower planter. Overbrook Community Gardeners had an evening plant sale of vegetable and herb plants as well as a perennial exchange.

Families were invited to help create a new Fairy Garden in one of the raised beds at Lansdowne Park. Children helped make a fairy house for the Fairy Garden and made another to take home. A local nursery hosted a talk on attracting bees and butterflies to your garden that was followed by participants making painted bee baths to put in their own gardens.

If you are curious to see what is being offered this year in Ottawa, go to to see the registered activities by province and city. The Gardens Ottawa site at will list local activities closer to the Garden Days dates in June. Please note that not all activities are free; some might require registration and a nominal cost. You can contact us at

Gardens Ottawa invites you to celebrate and share our love of gardens. Experience the power of plants, learn what can be grown in our area, find information on growing food for your family or discover a new plant that you would like to grow. Above all, please experience and enjoy the gardens throughout our beautiful city and the National Capital Region. There will be many activities to choose from and we invite you to take advantage of this celebration of gardens and gardening from June 16 to 24, 2018.

Heather Clemenson is chair of Gardens Ottawa. She is a keen gardener who lives in Greely.


Photo: Linda Bruce

Garden Angels add colour and grace to the Glebe

by Linda Bruce and Jennifer Humphries

With warm weather around the corner, the Glebe Garden Angels – an offshoot of the Glebe Community Association (GCA) Environment Committee – are launching their 14th season tending the public planters and flowerbeds in the neighbourhood.

This dedicated volunteer group maintains about 60 planters and beds located in the area from Bronson Avenue to O’Connor Street, and Chamberlain Avenue-Isabella Street to Fifth Avenue. The Glebe’s curbside gardens range in size from the small pebbledash containers along Glebe Avenue to the larger garden bed at Fifth and Bank. At one time, the City of Ottawa did the maintenance but with budget cuts and the absence of a long-term plan, the Glebe Garden Angels took over responsibility for planter contents and maintenance in 2005.

The group’s history is a testament to the dedication of volunteers and the generosity of local businesses. It’s also a story of timely transplants. Judith Slater, who served as coordinator of the Glebe Garden Angels for nine years, organized the acquisition of plants and supplies. She made an arrangement with Loblaws on Isabella Street, which donated perennials, and with TerraPro, which donated bulbs after the annual Tulip Festival.

One year, the Garden Angels planted 3,000 bulbs in three newly constructed beds along Fifth Avenue near Bank a

nd Monk streets. The Garden Angel volunteers dug up the Sylvia Holden perennials to transplant to gardens in the neighbourhood before the city closed the park for the reconstruction of Lansdowne. Local residents have do

nated other plants from their gardens. When Fifth Avenue was resurfaced, most of the plants in those beds were lost, but a work group of the Garden Angels was organized to re-plant, benefitting from some financial compensation from the city. Two of the Fifth Avenue beds also disappeared with the construction at the former McKale Garage site at Bank and Fifth but not before the Garden Angels were able to salvage the plants for the third bed and Abbottsford House. Last summer, the planters and hanging baskets along Bank Street received a welcome boost, when the Glebe BIA funded the services of a watering truck and a load of mulch to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeding.

Now the Garden Angels need new avid gardeners willing to volunteer a few hours a year to help add colour and grace to the Glebe. While most planters have been adopted, more volunteers are needed to take on the remaining “orphan” planters or to cover for other gardeners while they are away during the summer. Since most planters contain perennials or shrubs, watering, weeding and garbage removal takes less than an hour a week. There is a heavier workload in the spring and fall with cleanup, planting, transplanting, pruning and amending soil. If heavy work is required at the beginning or end of the season, other volunteers can be called upon to assist.

Of the planters that need adoption, major TLC is needed for the raised planter on the southeast corner of Bank and Strathcona near Pet Valu. Last summer, red and white petunias in celebration of Canada 150 were planted and watered by the Glebe BIA contractor but for the longer term, perennials and small shrubs would be preferable. In addition, there are several planters on the corner of Glebe and Percy that are in need of volunteers. A number of cement planters seem to be intended for traffic calming or diversion, and we have contacted the city to determine their ownership and permanence.

The Garden Angels are always looking to renew the planters and beds as some plants die over the winter, suffer salt damage or just disappear.

The Glebe Garden Angels’ handiwork at the northwest corner of Fifth and Bank. Photo: Linda Bruce

Donations of your extra plants, small shrubs, bulbs, soil or mulch are always welcomed. Whether your plants require shade or sun, a place will be found for them.

If you are ready to get out your trowel, would like more information or have a plant to donate, please email

Linda Bruce has lived in the Glebe for 25 years and has been one of the Glebe Garden Angels for nine. She succeeds Judith Slater as their coordinator. Jennifer Humphries is co-chair of the Glebe Community Association’s Environment Committee.load of mulch to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeding.

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