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Aerial view colour photograph of a forest in the snow with the Arboretum logo and date Feburary 2021

Celebrating Love in The Arboretum!

decorative colour photo grid of couples posing in areas of the Arboretum.

Valentine's Day inspired us to share some photographs of University of Guelph people who have celebrated their weddings or engagements in The Arboretum. We are looking forward to the time when we can host in-person celebrations here again.

Thank you (from top left clockwise) Chris Earley and Jiffy Gibson, Bethany and Melanie Lipka, Shoshanah Jacobs and Alex Smith, and Getu Hailu and Jeji Varghese for sharing photos of your special days with us.

Workshops: Gardening, Bird Songs & more!

Are you planning your first vegetable garden or need to brush up on your garden fundamentals? Do you have gardening questions that you can’t find the answers for? Would you like to be able to identify birds by their calls and songs? Do you want to know your neighborhood night sky better? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, we have a workshop(s) for you!

colour photo of a man grouched in a gardenMy First Vegetable Garden
This course is designed for the novice gardener or the gardener that has only been growing vegetables for a couple of years. Learn how to create garden beds, about soil selection, when to seed versus when to transplant, how to contend with weeds, growing for a maximum yield, harvesting, vegetable myths, and more. Focus is on hardiness zones 4–6.

colour photo of a man smiling in front of a gardenGarden Fundamentals
This 7-week course focuses on ornamental gardens including trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, and grasses. Participants will gain a solid understanding of how these plants grow and their relationship with the soil. Practical topics such as planting, maintenance, plant selection, sun/shade requirements, will be covered. This course is suitable for the beginner and intermediate gardener.

grid of photos of 8 birds and the words bird sounds 8 courses 8 $ eachVirtual Bird Sounds
We will cover the common songs/calls of over 150 species, learn how to make your own calls, read a sonogram, make up your own memorable bird song sayings, and more! Whether you are new to learning bird sounds or you want a good refresher before the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas starts this spring, this course is for you.

decotative photo of the night skyConstellation Walks
Join us for monthly virtual sessions to 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. A downloadable star map will be provided.

colour photo of a honey bee on a purple coloured flower Spring Break for Kids
We are still planning to host our series of online, 1-hour workshops for kids ages 6-13 throughout the Spring Break (now scheduled to occur in April). Children will learn about plants, animals, nature, and the importance of conservation with The Arboretum. Workshop topics include: Nature and the Senses, A Land Before Time, Things We Love to Hate, Animals Adaptions, and Greener Footprints.

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 winter and early spring programs. Register early to save your spot!

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.]

colour photo pf a deer track in the snow with a quarter coin for scale.Tracks! Deep snow lets us see that White-tailed Deer have four toes on each foot. The middle two always show but toes 1 and 4 are called dew claws and they are farther up the leg, but they usually only show well in deep snow. Click the photo to see the second photo that was either a large Red Fox or small Coyote. These two can be tricky. The third photo proves it to be a fox. How can we tell? It passes through a fence that has mesh too small for a Coyote to get through!

a colour photo of soft fuzzy buds Are you looking for small signs of spring? Look no further! Our Proctor’s Magnolia (Magnolia x proctoriana) is starting to show it’s fuzzy flower buds! When protected from winter winds, Magnolia buds will produce stunning fragrant white blooms in March and April, making them an ideal landscape specimen. Stay tuned for an update on this Proctor's Magnolia’s spring bloom!

colour photo of Staghorn sumacThese bright red Staghorn Sumac berries add a lovely pop of colour to the winter landscape! We’re not the only ones to enjoy these berries, though, because they are also an important winter survival food for lots of different bird species. Be sure to keep an eye out for this beautiful plant on your next visit to The Arboretum!


Planning for Spring Projects

a colour panorama photo of hundreds of people surrounding a figure in a white coat holding a microphone

In the spring of 2016, The Arboretum was the site of Crepuscule (above), a massive community improvisation produced by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation. This spring, we will be part of two very different projects ranging from monitoring biodiversity to exploring the relationship between nature and mental health.

The Arboretum will be serving as one of 100 locations worldwide for an international biodiversity monitoring project that is being advanced in collaboration with the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph.

At the same time, our grounds, trails, and woodlands will be the focus of Guelph interdisciplinary artist Dawn Matheson's new project -- a sound-walk exploring nature, specifically trees, and mental health.

Planning ahead and improvising in the moment have both been essential modes for us all this year, and we're proud to host these projects and continue serving our core purposes.

Crepuscule at The Arboretum. Photo by Richelle Forsey.

From the Collection: Invasive Species

Polly Samland, Horticultural and Plant Records Technologist

Colour photo of a winged stem of a plant

When introduced into a new environment, an invasive plant won’t co-exist. It out-competes and dominates, replaces native species, forms monocultures, degrades and transforms the ecosystem.

Some invasive species are so aggressive it is hard to believe they were ever planted on purpose. Their infamy is established. It is unlikely a modern citizen will head to a garden center to buy pots of buckthorn or a flat of garlic mustard. But some invasive species are slow to be recognized, and one of these is the winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus), flaming to life in front yards across Canada each fall.

In the photo (left), you can see the wavy ridges, or “wings” on the Euonymus alatus trunk. The blurry fringe of sticks in the background are all winged burning bush, a dense colony that has spread from two original accent plants (these ones have been mown down more than once).

Replacing a burning bush is a lot easier than replacing the Norway maple in your front yard -and there are numerous shrubs with vivid autumn colour to try instead, (Japanese maple, witch-hazel or fragrant sumac, to name a few). Even if a yard or garden is not right beside a natural area, berries can be dispersed surprising distances by birds.

We can avoid contributing to the mounting threats that our forests fragments and naturalized areas face by doing homework on the species inherited in our gardens, and some research on what catches our fancy in the nursery or a seed catalogue. If you’d like to learn more, check out Eco Benefial’s article Spotlight on Invasive Plants: Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), and 'A quick reference guide to Invasive Plant Species' from the Ontario Plant Council.

Photos of the Euonymus alatus by Polly Samland.

Arboretum History

document marking tree plantings with Edge of Woods and North marked

In the 1980s, Arboretum curator John Ambrose and University of Guelph environmental biologists Randy Gadawksi and Peter Kevan published a study on the reproductive biology of the rare hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata). This research aimed to contribute to a better understanding of its reproductive biology and why its range in Canada is mostly limited to the Lake Erie shoreline.

The hoptree is listed as a Species at Risk of “special concern". Following the study, The Arboretum archived hoptrees in our Gene Bank and donated the extra trees to the City of Guelph to be used for landscaping new parks and trails. Have you seen any hoptrees around Guelph? Above is a map to the hoptrees planted in Howitt Park.

(Thanks to John Ambrose for sharing this map.)

History Identified

Colour photo of a group of people smiling at the camera in a field of trees.Thanks to our awesome community for quickly filling in the names of all the people in this archival photo from the early 1980s! Ric Jordan and Barbara Sellers responded right away to our January newsletter, helping name everyone in the summer staff.

The individuals in the photo are, from back left to right: Graham Smith, John McLeod, Ron Kelly, John Curtis, Dave Megit, and Michelle Edwards. Front left to right: Ric Jordan, Laura McDonald, Ted Krasowski, Jodie Reid, and Heidi Fackelmann.

We’d love to see any Arboretum photos you may have! Send them to

Weddings at The Arboretum

Did you or someone you know become engaged on Valentine's Day? If a venue is the first task on your planning list, look no further than The Arboretum to host your future nuptials. The Arboretum offers two outdoor ceremony locations and a newly renovated indoor reception space nestled amongst 400 acres of gardens, trees, trails, and scenic vistas.

For 2022 availability, rental rates, and to schedule a tour, contact Dawn Ann Webster at 519-824-4120 ext. 54110 or

Photo of the West Lawn by Quinn Dam.

In the News

Colour photo of a snowy owl on looking at the camera standing on the ground in a filed.

Arboretum Naturalist Interns Kitty Lin and Jenny Lin were recently on CBC’s Fresh Air and spoke with host Jason D’Souza about how to spot and appropriately enjoy the presence of Snowy Owls in Ontario! Listen to the segment here.

A Snowy Owl sitting in a field. Photo by Karl Egressy.

In the Ecosystem

colour photo pf a owman holding a sign that reads We are ar a pivotal pointArboretum ecopsychology workshop facilitator Memona Hossain writes about environmental activism from an Islamic perspective in the article Young Muslim women are leading environmental movements grounded in their beliefs recently published to The Conversation. We will have details about a spring Ecopsychology and Eco Art Therapy program with Memona on our website soon.

decorative grpahic for Nature on the hill townhallThis Friday, February 19, Nature Canada is hosting a Town Hall event for nature groups and individuals from across the country to discuss priorities for the future of conservation in Canada and engage in a panel discussion with The Honourable Bernadette Jordan and The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans, and Environment and Climate Change. You can join the conversation about protected areas in Canada, and pursuing the commitments to protect land, freshwater and ocean by 2030, while supporting Indigenous-led conservation by registering here.

Photo of a man hand feeding a Canada jay birdA new University of Guelph study has linked food spoilage caused by frequent Autumn freeze-thaw cycles to the decline of Canada Jays populations in Ontario. Unlike squirrels that cache non-perishable nuts for winter, Canada jays hide meat, berries and other perishable items in trees.

Art in The Arb

Colour photo of a tree canopy from below in a forest.

Interdisciplinary artist Dawn Matheson, who has worked in participatory public art at University of Guelph and in the community for many years, will be developing a new project here at The Arboretum over the next year. Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, she will develop an immersive sound walk bringing together trees, mental health, and art.

Photo by Richelle Forsey.

Donation and Dedication Opportunities

colour photo of a dedication bench in a forest Generous gifts from individuals, families, and businesses over the past 50 years have made The Arboretum what it is today. Help support the next 50!

Donations can be made specifically to dedicate trees, benches, arbors, garden beds, or other features. We recognize this support by placing a small plaque to honour a person, group, or event. These donations support our long-term collections management plan across The Arboretum. To learn more about donations that can be recognized please visit our website.

Photo: A dedication bench in The Arboretum's Wall-Custance Memorial Forest Grove.


colour photo of the Arboretum t-shirts stacked A variety of Arboretum merchandise and apparel is currently available. New Arboretum merchandise includes our new lanyard with custom ruler, a collapsible bowl for watering your thirsty dog while you are out walking, and our environmentally-friendly bamboo mechanical pencil.

Visit our Merchandise shop to order today!


Ways you can connect with The Arboretum

Make sure to keep in touch with us on social media -  follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and follow the #ArbAt50 for news on our 50th Anniversary events and online activities.
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camera icon for photo creditThe header of this month's newsletter is an aerial view of the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest Grove. Photo by Richelle Forsey.