The classes at Ecole Willows Elementary have been restoring a very unhealthy area in Uplands Park for the past several years. It was an area ploughed in the 1850’s to create part of Uplands Farm growing non-native agrarian grasses to feed the cattle. By 2015, there were virtually no native plants growing in the area…only invasive plants: Norway maple, European ash, Daphne laureola, Himalayan blackberry and English ivy.
A very large Garry Oak tree, about 250 years old, was revealed in August of 2015 when the OB Parks Dept removed invasive trees in an area near Dorset. The area under the oak and all around was completely covered by invasive plants. The students removed the English ivy from under and around the “Grandparent” Garry oak and planted native species from 2015 to 2019. Oak Bay Parks removed more invasive trees in 2018 and 2019 and exposed a very big area to sunshine. This last Fall, all the classes planted native species including 4 “grandchildren” oaks about 8 years old. The money to pay for the plants (about $12,000) was donated by teachers doing FOUP non-restoration programs in the park, Tree Canada, Telus, federal Habitat Stewardship Program, Oak Bay Parks and the Municipality of Oak Bay. FOUP greatly appreciates the donations.
If you visit the site, please stay on the marked trail and go in one direction. If you need to social distance, go back. Walking on the plants may kill them. Keep dogs on leash and on the trail. Birds are nesting and many do so on or near the ground.
One of the teachers at Willows is Sally Hallam. She is dedicated to her Kindergarten students, teaching them about nature, especially about trees. Her class last year created a tree calendar and the proceeds paid for one of the “grandchildren” Garry oak trees that was planted by all the Kindergarten students at Willows and some Grade 1 students. Each child placed a handful of soil around the roots. They then planted other native species.
Sally has created an excellent website on the Connections in Kindness of trees that she has been teaching about for the last 2 years, and which has current science information, videos, activities and the tree photographs taken by her students. Oak Bay High students partnered with them and taught them how to do photography. Sally invites you to explore the website, have fun and learn.
FOUP thanks Sally for her commitment, enthusiasm and love of nature.
Yours in kindness to nature,
Margaret Lidkea, President
Friends of Uplands Park