The Fletcher Wildlife Garden, a long-term project of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, is located on a site that is only minutes from the centre of Ottawa.
Besides being readily accessible to naturalists, gardeners, schoolchildren, and other residents of the city and its suburbs, the FWG site encompasses a variety of natural habitats. Volunteers are working to restore and enhance these and other areas to provide a wide range of potential homes for local wildlife.
In 2014, our mission was restated as “to demonstrate to residents of the Ottawa area how to create or restore wildlife-friendly habitats and gardens in their neighbourhood, emphasizing the use of plants native to this region.”
Loss of natural spaces is a major factor in the decline of many plant and animal species. Our goal is to encourage as many people as possible to create or restore natural landscapes on their urban or rural property. Our Interpretive Centre contains information on conservation issues and regional natural history. Behind the centre is our Backyard Garden designed to show how anyone can transform their own garden into one that is wildlife friendly.
Who we are?
The FWG is managed by a committee of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club. The committee meets on the 4th Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Interpretive Centre at the garden. Observers are welcome!
The Friends of the Central Experimental Farm is a partner in our project.
How we got here?
The idea for a “wildlife garden” began to be tossed around in 1987 when the OFNC wished to celebrate “Wildlife 87,” a Canadian Wildlife Service initiative to focus on wildlife and habitat conservation across the country. Peter and Judy Hall suggested a wildlife garden, a place where people could learn how to garden in a more wildlife-friendly manner, as well as learn about local wildlife. As you can imagine, the idea took hold!
After considering several locations, the site we now know as the FWG was chosen and after lengthy negotiations with Agriculture Canada (now AAFC), in which Peter was key, permission was granted to create a garden. Opening ceremonies were held June 1990, and Peter and Jeff Harrison organized this event, which was attended by hundreds of people. There was no garden as such, but enthusiasm and hopes were high, and many people volunteered to help with the project.
After that ceremony, the work began in earnest. A noted landscape architect, David Tomlinson, was hired to draw up a blueprint for the wildlife garden. Jeff was the “ideas man” and ideas flew from him fast and furious as anyone who knew him can attest. Peter helped bring many of these ideas to fruition and, of course, had many ideas of his own. Peter and Jeff worked as a solid team and achieved a lot in a few years. There were plans for all sorts of things, including fundraising ventures (one short-lived idea was to run a tearoom!). It was thanks to Peter again, that Building 138, which we now call “home,” was given over for our use.
Both Peter and Jeff were incredible driving forces, long before any of us now volunteering, were around. If it hadn’t been for their determination, energy, organizational abilities, promotion of the garden (Jeff was particularly good at this), and a myriad of other things, the FWG would never have come to be.
See also: History of the FWG in photos
Finding out more
Our e-newsletter allows us to report on progress, let our volunteers know what’s new, and publicize our events. We send it out approximately every second month. To be put on our mailing list, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also prepared a series of “how to” sheets on aspects of wildlife gardening based on our own experience and geared toward local conditions, i.e., eastern Ontario. Click on your garden to find out how to attract wildlife to your own backyard.
Finally, we want to share information that we’ve come across over the last few years as we’ve built up our own resources and made connections with other groups and people working toward similar goals. Click on flora and fauna to find out about some of the plants and animals around us.