Hey Peterborough! Hey Jackson Park! Congratulations! We did it! On December 6th 2021 city council voted to add Jackson Park to the official heritage register under the Ontario Heritage Act. For over 100 years Jackson Park has been a fixture in the Peterborough community. Envisioned by the Nichols Trust as a respite from the growing city; this beloved park has more than fulfilled it’s role.
Tomorrow we’ll get back to work, but let’s celebrate this beloved park. By the numbers, Jackson Park is an impressive place. A summary to date (December 2021):
143 Bird Species have been catalogued on the Jackson Park Ebird hotspot
All of these things add such great value to Peterborough, and it is all worth protecting for the future. There is lots of hard work to be done to further protect and restore this important heritage location. From invasive species, trampling of the undergrowth, to climate change, or even just trails in disrepair there is still lots to do. I’m personally looking forward to tackling these challenges to pass this space along to future generations.
Thanks so much to councilor Kim Zippel to bringing this motion forward from the Heritage Committee. And thank you to council for seeing this motion through to completion.
Every year myself and many others eagerly await the arrival of the ephemeral spring wildflowers. In the past few days I’ve been out scouting for them around Peterborough, and it appears they will be in full bloom soon! In Peterborough it is possible to see these ephemeral forest flowers in Burnham Woods, the Trent Nature areas, the Fleming College Property, and some places in Jackson Park. When visiting these places, be sure to tread carefully and take nothing but photographs.
Being more than just photogenic and beautiful to look at, early spring wildflowers can be an excellent indicator of forest health. These early wildflowers support insects and pollinators of many different varieties. Notably, many of these spring wildflowers are pollinated by various ant species, instead of other flying insects. A good reminder to not forget about ants as an important pollinator in our ecosystems! Beyond pollinators, many larger animals rely on these plants as a source of forage. Many spring flowers produce fruit, and leaves that forest animals will feast upon.
These flower species are often sensitive to environmental changes and human activity, which also makes them an early indicator of a declining forest health. Changes in the water cycle due to nearby construction, trampling of plants by humans, and invasive species can all have an impact on the health of these wildflower and forest communities.
Here in Peterborough’s Jackson park, these spring wildflowers are few and far between. The forest has experienced many of the impacts mentioned above, and trampling of the forest floor has reduced the chances of their revival to a minimum. It does not need to be this way, communities in other parts of the province have created simple and effective ways of managing the human impact on the forest ecology.
In urban forests, often the forest undergrowth becomes trampled by people walking through the forest. The trampling of the undergrowth results in a decline of flowers, and the remaining flowers are often picked by visitors. In London Ontario, along the Thames River the Garden Club of London had an elegant and beautiful solution to this problem. Last year I visited their woodland garden to explore this oasis in the middle of their city. By strategically placing fencing throughout the forest and adding pathways where people frequently passed through the forest, the woodland garden was able to revive the local forest ecology while still providing opportunities for visitors to pass through the forest and marvel at the beautiful flowers.
Urban forests, although not pristine, do not need to be resigned to an eternity of ecological degradation through human use. With some tender care the Garden Club of London shows us how some careful planning can bring back the wildflowers for all of us to enjoy. It is my personal hope that in the coming years we can bring the flowers and pollinators back into Peterborough’s own Jackson Park.
Field notes are brief reports I occasionally publish that describe the local environment. Subscribers to Stewards Notes do not receive and email when field notes are published and they are not listed on the front page. Follow along if you like.
Spring wildflowers are appearing in Jackson Park. Today (April 14th) on our outing we noticed Colt’s Foot, Trout Lilies and Wood Lilies. Additionally we noted an Osprey overlooking the Old Mill Pond near the pagoda bridge. Over the past week we have also noticed a Blue Heron in the pond during the evening hours. Looking forward to more flowers coming in to bloom!
This long weekend my partner and I had the opportunity to visit 2 beautiful but quite different locations in the Kawarthas. We started by visiting the Millbrook Valley Trails. On our way down we came across 3 turtles near the Peterborough Airport. The flooded lands surrounding the roadway must be making perfect habitat for them! During our afternoon picnic we were greeted by twittering chimney swifts, turkey vultures, and orioles near the millpond. Medd’s Mountain was a delightful show of spring wildflowers. Along the trail they were placed out as if they were exhibits at a museum. Bloodroot and Trout Lilly were both particularly showy on this day. On the way out we came across an incredible mass of roots perched above the ghost of a stump, a great indicator of old growth forest.
With spring finally showing up on our doorstep I thought I’d share some of my favorite wildflower hotspots in Peterborough! The spring wildflowers are incredibly diverse with some early ones quite delicate such as hepatica, or incredibly showy such as the iconic trillium, it’s difficult to pick a favorite. (If I did pick a favorite it would be Bloodroot) There are many places to find them in and around Peterborough, but some places are better than others. Most species seem to prefer upland deciduous forests. By appearing before the tree canopy fills in, they are able to soak up the sunlight before disappearing until next year. Many of these flower species are also pollinated by one of the less known pollinators: the humble ant. So if you want to find some spring wildflowers, look no further than this list.
1. Fleming College Trails
The lands surrounding Fleming College in the south west corner of the city make for perfect wildflower viewing. Some years the forest floor is blanketed with trilliums in a way that I have never seen elsewhere. Many of the other spring wildflowers such as hepatica, bloodroot, and trout lillys are present.
2. Burnham Woods
Probably the best place in Peterborough to see spring wildflowers is Burnham Woods. The old growth deciduous forest makes perfect setting to see all of the spring classics. Blue Cohosh, Mayapples, and Bellwort are all visible along the paths through the forest. Look close to the forest floor and you might even be able to find a violet or two.
3. Lady Eaton Drumlin at Trent
Again, this is perfect habitat for Spring wildflowers, parking is easy at Trent now that school is out for the summer, and it is also quite accessible by bus! Access the drumlin by walking up the slope behind Lady Eaton College at the university. You’ll be astounded by the diversity of wildflowers that are present at the top of the hill. In some of the low lying areas around the hill you can find another spring classic… the showy marsh marigold.
Hopefully this inspires you to get out and explore the best that Peterborough has to offer! Subscribe to Steward’s Notes to get more tips about nature spots in Peterborough or follow on Facebook or Twitter.
You may have figured out by now that I love spring wildflowers. (It will actually be the theme of tonight’s quiz at the Peterborough Field Naturalist Meeting) This past weekend I visited Walter’s Falls on the Bruce Trail for the first time. I will say that it was one of the nicer hike’s I’ve been on in Grey County and that is saying a lot! The lovely hiking loop is about 5.5km in length and meanders along the river valley through both mature and young forests. Excellent views of interesting geology and a great little spot to dip your feet in the water at one end of the loop. Not to mention the magnificent falls at the top of the valley. There are several spots to access the trails, but we started at the Inn near the falls. The first segment of the trail was awash with freshly emerged wildflowers including my personal favorite, Bloodroot. Here’s hoping to see many more wildflowers in the weeks to come!
This time last year, wildflowers were in full bloom across the Kawarthas. This spring has been rather slow to start the bloom. I wanted to be prepared for the eventual blooms of wildflowers throughout the city, so I started with the closest park. Jackson Park isn’t exactly prime wildflower habitat, I suspect that nearly a century of heavy human use has probably had an impact on their diversity in the area. Nevertheless I was able to find some early signs that Trout Lillies and Marsh Marigolds will be blooming soon in Jackson Park!
The willow is starting to put out buds and the poplars and birches have catkins weighing down their branches. I also noticed that two of the mighty white pines adjacent to the pond are in rough shape, and may in fact be dead… A sad day for sure. Also plenty of signs of woodpeckers in the park. Noticed a beautiful Pilliated Woodpecker high up on a dead tree.