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Celebrating Love at The Arboretum

colour photo of a groom in a black suit and a bride in a white dress crouching on a gravel path with two dogscolour photo of a groom wearing a white outfit and red turban spinning a bride wearing a red wedding saree outdoors next to a yew hedge

colour photo of two brides holding yellow and purple bouquets and wearing white sitting on a bench and smiling at each other
colour photo of a a bride and a groom standing in a field surrounded by autumn wildflowers. the bride is hugging the groom from behind and they are smiling at each other.
Valentine's Day inspired us to share some photographs of newly-married couples who have celebrated their weddings at The Arboretum.  From top left clockwise, thank you to Nicole McKenney and Philip Paine, Prerna Sharma and Harvi Sadhra, Christina Grace and Benito Russo, Shelley Respondek and Amy Dunlop for sharing photos of your special day with us.
Photo and vendor credits (from top left clockwise): Wahbi Bouri, Yellow Pony Productions, Signature Wedding, Red Suitcase Photography & flowerzdesign, Gold House Studios.

Welcome to our new Naturalist Intern!

a colour photo of a smiling man standing and resting his elbow on a cabinet
Aanii, ‘hello, I see your light’ my name is Bradley Howie. I am of mixed European and Anishinaabe ancestry, and I honour all my ancestors equally. In my undergraduate degree I obtained a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and focused my studies on organic and nanochemistry research. After my undergraduate degree I decided to pursue graduate work at the University of Guelph in the Masters of Environmental Science (MES) program. During my time in this program, I had the privilege of reconnecting with my Anishinaabe heritage by researching the creation of educational materials that weave Anishinaabe knowledge, language, culture, and science into the University of Guelph Arboretum. I have always had a close connection with creation, be it with chemistry, physics, insects, frogs, trees, fossils, and mushrooms. However, my absolute favorite thing to do is to share the gifts of creation with others, and in that sense my heart and passions truly lie within teaching.  

I will be continuing the work I started with my Masters in my new position as the Anishinaabe Environmental Educator at The Arboretum, weaving traditional knowledge into this already incredible teaching space!  This will be done through developing workshops, guided tours, and educational programing that reflect Anishinaabe pedagogy and land-based teaching. Land-based teaching should not be confused with outdoor education. In outdoor education there is an educator on the land teaching, but in land-based teaching the land herself is the teacher. It is said that the creator gives each and every one of us a gift. I believe that my gift is to educate and to share the gifts of the land with people. 

I want to end off with saying that I approach any work I conduct with the lens that I am a student on my journey learning the Anishinaabe culture. This is a lifelong journey not akin to an undergraduate or graduate degree but rather a declaration to walk the mino bimaadiziwin (good path/ good life). I am not an Anishinaabe Knowledge Holder and, to remain respectful and appropriate, any knowledge I do share is with the utmost respect and the understanding that we are all learning together. Please join me on this learning journey! 

Upcoming Workshops


Colour photo of a twig against a sky backgroundVirtual Winter Tree I.D. with Shelley Hunt
No leaves? No problem! In this workshop you will learn about the variety of tree features that are useful for winter identification of deciduous trees as well as evergreens. We will focus on native Ontario tree species. Optional 'homework' assignments will encourage you to get outside and observe trees in between sessions. The program runs once a week for 4 weeks. Starts Feb 3

colour photo of a bird with a speech bubble that reads bring your garden and nature questionsAsk The Arb
Noon-hour session covering Q&A topics from horticulture to birding. Whether you're worried about a plant in your garden or curious about an odd bird behaviour, join interpretive and horticultural staff for a monthly discussion. Feb 22


photo of a night sky framed by silhouettes of treesVirtual Constellation "Walk" with Trevor Chandler
Join us for monthly sessions as we get to know the night sky a little better. Participants will be introduced to prominent stars and constellations, where to look for them and how the motions of planet Earth cause them to appear to shift from hour to hour and month to month. You will receive a downloadable star map to help you make your way through the stars. Feb 24

colour photo of a man in a gardenVirtual My First Vegetable Garden With Robert Pavlis
This course is designed for the new gardener or one that has only been growing vegetables for a couple of years. The course starts at the very beginning, with ordering seeds and ends with a detailed discussion of the 10 best vegetables for new gardeners. Robert is a Master Gardener and garden writer who runs two popular gardening blogs and has published several gardening books. Starts Feb 15

colour photo of a japanese garden
Virtual Japanese Garden Design Course
Taught by our Head Gardener Cael Wishart, this introductory course to Japanese garden design covers the traditional techniques used to establish gardens of peace and Zen. These gardens require a high attention to detail in both design and maintenance. Wherever your interest lie, in theory or in practice, this course is intended to help you appreciate and understand this unique tradition. Mar 8

colour photo of a man standing in front of a garden
Virtual Gardening Fundamentals With Robert Pavlis
Garden Fundamentals will focus on ornamental gardens including trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs and grasses. The course will cover practical topics such as planting, maintenance, plant selection, sun requirements, and Robert will give you some of his top picks. This course is suitable for the beginner and intermediate gardener. Starts Mar 15

A colour photo of a red handled pair of secateurs held in front of tree barkThe Art and Practice of Pruning
This half-day indoor/outdoor practical in-person workshop teaches the principles of easy and correct pruning in the home landscape. Participants learn how to choose the right equipment and how to keep it sharp and clean. Pruning techniques will be shown and practiced on a variety of shrubs and small trees. Mask, proof of vaccination and screening required to attend this event. Mar 22

colour photo of a tree canopy with green new leaves against a blue sky
Seeing the Forest for the Trees - In-Person Walk 
Join us for a free public walk led by Dr. Megan De Roover! Using a theatre and performance lens, her research explores the relationships we already have with trees and how we can aim to build better ones. Participants will be pushed to reconsider the ubiquitous yet overlooked tree, and thereby the nonhuman world more generally, through new theoretical framework. Mar 24

colour photo of a smiling woman standing in front of an easelVirtual Plein Air Painting Talk with Candice Leyland 
Plein air painting involves packing up your art supplies and creating in the great outdoors! This webinar will explore portable painting supplies - from affordable DIY options to plein air investment pieces and how to set up your portable outdoor studio. We will also look at setting up your watercolour palette and explore how to choose colours to suit your style and environment. Apr 25

colour photo of a smiling woman standing in front of an easel
In-Person Plein Air Painting with Candice Leyland 
Spend the afternoon plein air painting with watercolour artist Candice Leyland. Candice will show you her approach to painting landscapes outdoors and inspire you to create your own unique paintings. Students will have the opportunity to receive feedback on their work througout the workshop and can share their work and receive feedback in a group critique at the end of class. May 29

All of our virtual programs are offered live on Zoom, and recordings are made available for registrants to access for a limited time. Visit our website to learn more about these and our other programs. Register early to save your spot!

The Arb in Winter

While many of the plants and animals slow down during the winter months, work at The Arboretum continues year-round. Our administrative staff and interpretive team are extra busy with guest lectures and educational programming during the school year, along with planning and delivering our regular events, workshops, and media. Greenhouse operations continue year round so that we can prepare for the next growing season. The removal of hazardous dead trees also keeps us busy, especially as we have to deal with the impacts of emerald ash borer on our canopy. Winter is the ideal time of year to do certain jobs, like grafting, pruning, and some of the indoor work that we are too busy to do during the summer. We are also perpetually busy with snow removal around our buildings! To give you a more in depth idea of our winters, some of our horticultural staff have written about some of the things they're working on right now.
colour photo of a split rail fence in a snowy feel

A snowy field outside of the Nature Centre, photo by Chris Earley.

Cael Wishart, Head Gardener

I think out of all the questions I get asked since working full-time at the Arboretum, the most common one seems to be “what do you do in the winter?”. To many, it might seem like we have little to do in the winter because plants go dormant, and many of the jobs we take on in the growing season simply can’t happen in the winter. But the winter is perfect time to do so many things we just don’t have time for from spring through fall. For myself as the gardener, much of my garden planning and design takes place in the winter. The last few years we have taken on several different garden projects, including renovations to our Gosling Wildlife Gardens, and recently our English Garden and Japanese Garden. This is perhaps one of my favourite parts of gardening. It takes a considerable amount of time to plan these gardens. This includes things like creating suitable plant lists, figuring out the placement and number of plants needed, visualizing how they will look together, and imagining in 4-5 years when plants and the landscape matures. There are so many factors to consider in garden design that having a thoughtful plan and approach before the growing and planting season starts is crucial for its success. 

Aside from garden design, we also look to update our inventory lists at the end of the year to record what has been removed, and what has been planted in. This effectively keeps a detailed record of the plants growing in The Arboretum, which is a key part of our mission. Much of our label production happens in the winter as well (more about this below), and this year I’ve been working on producing labels for our Gosling Wildlife Gardens that will help visitors identify perennials, trees and shrubs planted there. They will also display small icons to identify whether a plant is a pollinator species, larval host plant, shelter provider, food producer or native to Ontario. These labels will help visitors learn about the plants in our gardens, while also highlighting the benefits they provide for wildlife. 

Snow removal, teaching workshops, winter pruning, and tree work are among some other tasks I take on during the winter as well. So, even though it may seem like things slow down in the winter at The Arboretum, there is still plenty of work, and the opportunity to take care of the things we often don’t have time for during the growing season!

Polly Samland, Horticultural and Plant Records Technologist

During the growing season, there are so many things for us to do outdoors at The Arboretum to maintain and improve our grounds. When the outdoor work slows in the winter months, we have the opportunity to work on the tasks we need to complete before the next spring. One of the things winter allows us to work on is updating and creating new labels for our specimens.

As an accredited arboretum, labels are an important part of our record-keeping and visitor interpretation. Ideally, a label would last forever once placed beside its tree. Our labels are made of a very durable coated aluminum, even so they get weathered by years of exposure to the elements, damaged by equipment, stolen, or enveloped into the trunks or roots of fast-growing specimens. Also, plant names and families are constantly changing and being re-assessed as new technologies uncover the hidden relationships between plants. So new labels must always be made.

The technology to make labels has evolved. In my time here (since 2010), we have gone from using a motorized embosser that stamps into tags and a rotary engraver that scours the metal with a diamond tip, to our current laser engraver. The embosser dates back at least to the 1950’s. It was a military machine, used to stamp ID tags (dog tags). Its keyboard is only numbers and capital letters (no proper botanical Latin, with italics and lower-case). The rotary engraver was modern enough to be connected to a computer, but details of each label had to be manually entered into the template, labels engraved one at a time.

Our old Graphotype embosser. Photos by Polly Samland.

Our new co2 laser engraver can burn high-definition details into a range of materials. It can print batches of multiple labels at once, the details directly imported from our plant records database. We can also add in symbols and graphically enhance what information fits into each label. With these expanded capabilities, is exciting to plan new label formats for the gardens and collections.

New labels printed with our laser engraver. Photo by Polly Samland.

While late winter is the best time for some outdoor work, like pruning, making labels is one of the many indoor tasks that frozen, snowy weather gives us the opportunity to focus on and catch up on.  

Sarah Farquharson, Greenhouse and Nursery Technician

As the winter sets in at The Arboretum, the staff still stay busy on the grounds, as well as within the greenhouse and at our computers. One of our tasks is to work through the abundance of seeds that have been collected throughout the growing season. These seeds are cleaned and processed for either storage or to be grown immediately into new plants.  
colour photo of a the inside of a paper bag with white berries in itcolour photo of a table covered in paper bags

Just a few of the seeds collected this season. Each paper bag contains a different type of seed, like these white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) berries. Photos by Sarah Farquharson.

A wide variety of seeds are amassed from many different plant species, each requiring its own unique method of cleaning. Every brown paper bag of seeds that we have brought in during the fall must be opened and its processing decided. These methods range from simply popping open the dry seed pods of a redbud (Cercis canadensis), to using a blender to remove the fruit from the hard seeds of the hawthorn (Crataegus sp.). The oily fruits of magnolias must be soaked in a water bath with a little bit of dish soap to help soften their water resistant fleshy mesocarp. Some of the most difficult seeds though, are the tiny seeds. Birch catkins are a good example; their seeds are attached to tiny scales that are similar in size to the seed, and therefore we cannot use a sieve to separate the seeds from the scales. Some of the seeds that are encased in a soft fruit need to be refrigerated so they do not decay prior to processing, while other seeds need to start to decay a little bit before they are processed so that they will germinate more readily. There is no standard process that works across the board.  
colour photo of red jack in the pulpit berries on a tablecolour photo of a hand holding some orange berries attached to a leafy stem

Some seeds waiting to be cleaned. Right: gloves need to be worn when removing the poisonous pulp from these Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) seeds. Left: Both the pink outer capsule and the fleshy red-orange aril need to be removed from these running strawberry bush (Euonymus obovatus) fruit. Photos by Sarah Farquharson.

Cleaning seeds is only the first step towards getting them ready to germinate. Some of the seeds need further specific treatments. Many legumes, for example, members of the pea family (Fabaceae) need to be soaked in hot water before they are ready for germination. Others need to be soaked in acid to mimic being passed through the digestive system of an animal. Pre-germination treatments are all about replicating similar conditions that a seed has evolved to need in the wild.  

Most seeds found in our northern ranges have genetics that lock in their embryo to keep it from sprouting until the winter has passed. This makes it tricky to get them going in our greenhouse when they have been stored at room temperature, and so we put them through a ‘false winter’, known as stratification. The stratification process is simple, the seeds go into a bag with a sterile mix of moist substrate and are put into the fridge for a species-specific amount of time. As early as January some of these seeds are ready to be sown in the greenhouse. Their winter has been achieved and off they grow! These tasks add up when they are compounded over hundreds of different batches of seeds, and by the time we are through all the processes, spring is right around the corner.

Research Highlight

Like our other work mentioned above, research continues in The Arboretum even in the fall and winter. This is emphasized during the school months, as faculty use our grounds to provide their graduate and undergraduate students with outdoor learning experiences and field work opportunities. Last month, we featured two research projects conducted by students in a third year undergraduate Lab and Field Work in Ecology course (BIOL*3010) in the fall of 2021, under the direction of Dr. Christina Caruso and Dr. Ryan Norris, with additional help from Arboretum Research Manager Dr. Aron Fazekas. This month, we have two more projects from this course to showcase the variety of research conducted on our grounds!

The Impact of Trails on Bird Abundance in the University of Guelph’s Arboretum
Andie Siemens, Ainsley Kraut, Emma Banks, Adam Scott, and Laura Dobbyn

Recreational trails in forests allow the public access to nature but their associated disturbance may negatively impact forest biodiversity. In this study, we investigated the impact of trails on bird abundance via a disturbance to the birds’ leaf-litter invertebrate prey. Additionally, we investigated the impact of human presence on trails as a perceived predation threat to birds. In October 2021, we conducted point-counts of birds at twenty random locations at varying distances from trails within the University of Guelph’s Arboretum. To test for a relationship between trails, leaf-litter invertebrate abundance, and bird abundance, we sampled for leaf-litter invertebrates at the sites and measured the distance from each site to the nearest trail using a mapping program. Because many different habitat types are found within the Arboretum, we categorized our sites into dense woods, sparse woods, long grass, and mowed grass. We found no evidence that trails decrease bird abundance through disturbance to their leaf-litter invertebrate food source, nor through a perceived predation threat of humans. However, we did find some evidence that suggested trails may have a negative effect on leaf-litter invertebrate abundance in some habitat types, and that bird abundance may be positively influenced by leaf-litter invertebrate abundance. Our study demonstrates that trails may influence invertebrates and some bird species in particular habitats within the Arboretum and that further research should be focused on these places and species.

Invertebrate diversity is not affected by the characteristics of fallen logs or leaf litter depth
Verena Wildenstein, Owen McGrenere, Nolan Toner, Braelyn Smallwood, and Aaron Mostbacher  
colour photo of decaying logs on a forest floor covered in fungus.
Invertebrates are involved in many essential forest processes, such as the decomposition of logs and leaves. The diversity of invertebrates is sensitive to environmental change which is why they are a good indicator of forest health. During a semester-long research project course last fall, our group investigated whether invertebrate diversity was influenced by leaf litter depth and the characteristics associated with fallen logs. We reasoned that invertebrate diversity would increase with the state of decay of fallen logs because more nutrients are being released with ongoing decay of the wood, attracting more invertebrates and that high levels of leaf litter on the ground would provide more resources to invertebrates.

In Wild Goose Woods and Victoria Woods, our group colour photo of some invertebrate insects in a containersampled invertebrates near fallen logs and away from the logs and recorded the decay of the logs as well as the leaf litter depth in each sample. The leaves were put in a salad spinner to isolate the invertebrates so they could be identified and counted.

After analyzing our data, we found that neither distance from the fallen logs nor their decay level influences invertebrate diversity. Moreover, our group did not find a relationship between invertebrate diversity and leaf litter depth. It is possible that other factors not measured, such as the type of invertebrates that colonize the logs in the first place or the specific composition of the leaf litter, could provide some valuable insight into what are most likely a very complex relationships occurring, literally, right underneath our feet!  We hope that future undergraduate groups will continue this work in the Arboretum.

If you would like more information on research at The Arboretum, visit our Research & Conservation webpage. For further inquiries, please contact our Research Coordinator, Dr. Aron Fazekas at

Top: Decaying logs on the forest floor. Lower: Some invertebrates collected in the study. Photos from Verena Wildenstein, Owen McGrenere, Nolan Toner, Braelyn Smallwood, and Aaron Mostbacher.

What To See

To learn more about what is happening or what to look out for at The Arboretum please follow us on social media. We are on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Search for us at @uogarboretum.
[Click on the photos below to see the posts and more on Instagram.]

a colour photo of frost on the branches of a treeWaking up to this beautiful frosty tree definitely makes up for the cold temperature outside! Frost forms when water vapor cools, changing from its gas state to a liquid state, and then freezes into a solid state.

Depending on the environmental conditions, different types of frost can form. This is hoarfrost. It typically forms on cold still nights when there’s lots of moisture in the air.

colour photo of a short evergreen tree covered in snowDid you know The Arboretum is home to over 2000 taxa of woody plants in our World of Trees, Native Trees of Ontario, Oaks, Maples, and other thematic collections? These include native and non-native trees that act as living reference material for research, teaching, or just to help connect people to nature.

This Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestrismay not be native to Ontario, but it looks pretty beautiful topped off with a layer of snow! Like many trees in our collections, you can identify it by its label. This general label gives us information on the tree species, family, and selection.

colour photo of a red tailed hawk perched on a branchThis is a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Memeskniniisi, a common raptor found across North America and recently spotted here in the Arboretum. Adult Red-tailed Hawks can be easily characterized by their red-tail. But this is a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, which looks similar to the adult but does not have the characteristic red-tail. A better indication of a Red-tailed Hawk is the dark band that runs across their bellies’. Have you seen this bird in your neighborhood?



Chris Earley, Interpretive Biologist and Education Co-ordinator

adele penguins standing on ice with mountains and the ocean in the background
What do The Arboretum and Antarctica have in common…beside both being misspelled frequently?  They are both great places to explore!  The Arboretum is partnering with Worldwide Quest to offer an experience that will definitely chase the COVID blues away.  Worldwide Quest has booked an entire ship for many Canadian university alumni - as well as anyone who loves The Arboretum - for an Antarctic voyage
colour photo of a group of people on a zodiac boat in the water between two icebergs
The October 28 - November 16, 2022 itinerary includes four full days at South Georgia island.  This island is rich in wildlife and polar history.  Wildlife-wise, over 7 million penguins hang out here, including the spectacular and colourful King Penguin.  Another 23 million seabirds call the island home, but they have to share it…with half of the world’s Southern Ecolour photo of two elephant seals surround by king penguins on a rocky beachlephant Seal population!  It is a noisy and busy place that rivals the Serengeti for wildlife concentrations.  On the history front, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton and 5 of his crew of the ship Endurance (destroyed by ice) sailed a lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia, leaving 22 other crew members behind.  They sailed 16 days to get to South Georgia then had to climb across the island to get to a whaling station for help.  Wowsers!
Our explorations will be quite a bit more comfortable on our ship, the Magellan Explorer.  We will be visiting the Falkland Islands (5 penguin species, South American Sea Lions and Peale’s and Commerson’s Dolphins on the “to see” list there), Elephant Island and the Antarctic Peninsula.  We will be constantly watching for many whale and seabird species while at sea but will also be making landing excursions to walk on this “last continent.”  We will also be earning ”I crossed the Drake Passage” bragging rights.
colour photo of a black boat in the ocean surrounded by ice
There will be many expedition leaders on this trip, including myself, so this is definitely a learning trip.  Experts from different Canadian universities as well as the ship’s staff will give lectures on various topics that may include polar ecology, geology, ocean chemistry, sea ice, geopolitics, wildlife and more.  
If you are interested in this trip, you can see the detailed itinerary here.  The partnership between The Arboretum and Worldwide Quest allows for part of any U of Guelph-related booking to be donated to The Arboretum, so please be sure to book a spot before they are all gone!

Photo credit and description. Top: Adele penguins. Second: Photo of an expedition group exploring icebergs on a zodiac boat. Photo by Sandra Walser. Third: Elephant seals and king penguins sharing the beach. Fourth: The Magellan Explorer.

Meetings at The Arboretum

a colour photo of a room with a large table and chairs next to a large window with views of a green garden
Looking for somewhere to host your next meeting? With its large windows and private patio, we can't think of a better place for a team retreat than out Boardroom. For availability, rental rates and reservation, contact Dawn Ann Webster at 519-824-4120 ext. 54110 or

Winter Animal Adaptations

Michelle Beltran, Naturalist Intern

Our Canadian winters are tough. Resources like heated houses, thick jackets, and hot chocolate help us overcome the cold. But what about wild animals? When the temperature drops well below zero, the wind is howling, and the landscape is covered under a mountain of snow, animals are outside surviving. We live amongst amazing animals that are wonderfully adapted to deal with our winter. Animals tend to employ 3 main strategies to overcome winter challenges.

Animals that go dormant in the winter months are aiming to reduce their energy expenditure. This can be an appealing strategy for animals whose main food source isn’t available during winter. There are different types of dormancy that animals will undergo during the winter: hibernation, torpor, and brumation.
colour photo of a groundhog in green grasscolour photo of a chipmunk poking its head out of a hole in the ground

Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are true hibernators, while chipmunks (Tamias sp.) enter torpor. Groundhog photo by Chris Earley. Chipmunk photo by Michelle Beltran.

Animals that hibernate or go into torpor will be in a sleep-like state. Their heart rate, breathing rate, and metabolism slows down, allowing them to expend less energy. Hibernating animals are typically not active during winter. Waking up from hibernation is a long, energetically costly process. Torpor tends to be a shorter-term state of dormancy, waking up from torpor happens faster and doesn’t use up as much energy.
colour photo of a black turtle standing in bright green grass
Cold-blooded animals like this midland painted turtle (Chrysemys picta marginata) brumate in the winter. Photo by Michelle Beltran.

Ectotherms, like reptiles, brumate during the winter months. An ectotherm’s body temperature depends on the temperature of their surroundings, and their metabolism is tied to their body temperature. As the climate gets colder in the fall, an ectotherm’s body temperature will drop, and its metabolism slows down. Brumation is very similar to hibernation but is specific to ectothermic animals.

colour photo of a small grey and white bird perched on a metal rod

Some bird species, like this dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) travel to from Northern to Southern Ontario in the winter. Photo by Chris Earley.

Migration is the movement of individuals from one place to another. It may seem like migrating animals have it easy. While we’re dealing with -20 degree nights, warblers are enjoying warm South American climate. But migration can be intensely difficult. Many animals will travel hundreds of kilometers to their overwintering grounds. Blackpoll Warbler migration requires preparation. Ahead of its non-stop journey to South America, Blackpoll Warblers will double their body fat. Animals don’t only migrate to southern countries in the winter. Birds that breed further up north see Southern Ontario as useful overwintering grounds. We generally have more food and an easier climate in Southern Ontario. Dark-eyed Juncos and Snowy Owls are lovely winter visitors that you can look out for.

colour photo of a piece of mushroom resting on the branches of a spruce tree in winter

A mushroom hanging in a tree, likely placed here by a red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) storing food for winter. Photo by Michelle Beltran. 

Animals that persist have developed a variety of adaptations to cope with the cold and food availability. Fur coats can be incredibly useful at this time of year. Fur coats can be broadly divided into 2 parts, the under and topcoat. Undercoats typically grow thicker in the winter; they do an excellent job of insulating an animal’s body heat. Topcoats help trap body heat that may have escaped the undercoat. Some animals may store food (cache food) to ensure they have enough to eat throughout the winter. Eastern Grey Squirrels are scatter hoarders, they’ll cache food by burying them in the ground in different locations. Red Squirrels will cache mushrooms by hanging them on trees, allowing the mushroom to dry and be saved for later.

In the Ecosystem

In the past two years, COVID-19 has changed the ways people interact with green space. Artists Ron Benner (you may remember his art installation in The Arb this past fall) and Rachel MacGillivray have organized an online group art exhibition through Embassy Cultural House exploring how people have engaged with gardens and nature during the pandemic. Pandemic Gardens features over 40 works by artists, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts from around the world, including writing by Arboretum director Justine Richardson and photos of the grounds by artist Richelle Forsey. Read more about this incredible project or view the exhibition online here!
green and blue city of guelph logo on a white backgroundThe City of Guelph is looking for your help in meeting its goal of doubling its current tree canopy in the next 10 years. Its new One Canopy strategy aims to increase tree planting efforts across the community using a mix of public and private land to achieve 40 percent canopy cover in Guelph. To help develop this strategy, the city is running a survey to allow residents and business to share their stories and opinions on Guelph's trees and canopy. Have your say! Survey closes February 22.

Wednesday Noon Hour Walks

Walks in nature are always filled with the opportunity to see and learn something new. Join us every Wednesday at 12:15 by the kiosk for our weekly Noon Walk!

To keep everyone safe, we have a few COVID procedures in place. We ask that participants wear a medical style mask throughout the walk, show proof of vaccination, and complete the University's COVID screening form.

Donation and Dedication Opportunities

colour photo of a girl using an identification chart to identify a cedar with the words Support the Arb Give Today

The Arboretum relies on donations from generous supporters to keep our grounds beautiful and accessible every day, all year round. Gifts to the Arboretum are tax deductible, and enable efforts such as tree recovery, signage, trails, studentships, gardens, educational programs, and more! Join our community of supporters today with a gift through our online donation portal. 

Did you know that we can accept donations of shares and in-kind contributions? A gift of appreciated securities is a great way to support The Arboretum. Use the Notification of Gift of Securities form. Donors receive full tax credit for the fair-market value. Learn more about how you can give at

Donor Stories

colour photo of a red-breasted nuthatch holding a seed in its mouth, perched on a hand holding sunflower seeds in their shellsIn this new year, we want to highlight the contributions of our monthly donors.

Even amidst today’s uncertainty, The Arboretum stays open every day, all year round. Our grounds, boardwalks, trails, and gardens provide vital greenspace, open to everyone, for connection and conservation, for learning and well-being.

A sustaining monthly gift can meaningfully impact our community and the environment
in many ways. With as little as $5 a month, our regular donors support our goals in conservation, biodiversity, education, and providing spaces for people to connect with nature. If you enjoy The Arboretum and want to help us continue and expand our work, we invite you to consider becoming a monthly donor. Thank you for caring about The Arboretum.


Though it may not feel like it right now, spring is just around the corner! If you're excited about the arrival of summer breeding birds, our Spring Migrants Biodiversity Sheet  can help you brush up on your identification before these travellers return. Or, keep your eyes on the ground with our Spring Woodland Wildflowers Biodiversity Sheet. Once the snow melts but before new leaves emerge, the forest floor is filled with early bloomers, like trilliums and violets. Our biodiversity sheets are perfect for nature enthusiats of all ages, with over 50 colourful photos that allow you to make quick identification. These are great way to add something extra to your hikes!

Visit our Merchandise shop to order today or to check out our other cool products and educational materials.

Ways you can connect with The Arboretum

Make sure to keep in touch with us on social media -  follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.
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camera icon for photo creditThe header of this month's newsletter is a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and an american beech (Fagus grandifolia) growing together. Photo by Polly Samland.