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November 2020 banner image with a colour image of a robin eating a red berry.

Virtual Workshops

ID that bird!
Nov. 20 & 27, Dec. 4 & 11, 12-1:00 pm
There are still 4 more Friday at noon, virtual bird ID lectures to go with The Arboretum’s Interpretive Biologist and author of five bird field guides, Chris Earley! The upcoming lectures are: Gulls on Nov. 20, Spring Warblers on Nov. 27, Fall Warblers on Dec. 4, and Spring Migrants on Dec 11.  The presentations are followed by a Q&A and online resources are provided. Individual sessions are $8 (+HST) and are held on Zoom.

Sign up early for our 2021 workshops: All about owls, Your first garden, and Gardening fundamentals!

For details or to sign up visit our website.  Funds from our programs help support our educational activities.

The Arb in the News - Portico Magazine

Screen capture of UofG's Living Lab article with boardwalk in wood photo
Take a look back at The Arboretum’s 50-year history from a “field of sticks” to a “mix of open spaces, old-growth forests, provincially significant wetlands, cultivated gardens, [and] woody plant collections,” in the article “U of G’s Living Lab” in the latest issue of Portico.

Welcome to The Arbirdetum!

Chris Earley, Interpretive Biologist & Education Co-ordinator 
This time of the year is always an exciting period for us at The Arboretum.  All of our amazing natural areas and plant collections attract many species of wintering birds - and draw lots of birders too!  Here are some notes to make your birding visit as spectacular as possible.
colour photo of a Robin eating fruitBerries, berries, berries
The Arboretum showcases woody plants from all over the world and many of these produce berries or seeds that may attract overwintering birds such as Cedar Waxwings, American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds.  During irruption years (like 2020, see below), we can host northern species such as Pine Grosbeaks, Bohemian Waxwings, White-winged Crossbills, Red Crossbills, Common Redpolls and Hoary Redpolls.   To find any of these birds, we suggest you use the Arboretum Explorer website to locate specific areas of fruit-producing woody plants like crabapples, cork trees, bittersweet vines, junipers and mountain-ashes. The edges of forests near our Victoria Woods and Wild Goose Woods are also good spots to visit where native woody species such as wild grape, Virginia creeper, and many others will be feeding the birds as well.
Whooooo have we seen so far this season?
Photo of a barred owl in a treeThis fall has been wonderful for bird sightings at The Arboretum.  A Barred Owl decided to show itself for a couple of days and William Konze, a Wildlife Biology and Conservation student at UofG, took this amazing photo!  colour photo of a shrikeWe have also had a large flock of Evening Grosbeaks stop by.  These fabulous finches are listed as "Special Concern" because their numbers have dropped significantly in the last few decades.  We had a large flock for the first time in almost 30 years!  This year is an irruption year for them, meaning that their main food source in the boreal forest is low so they are moving south to find a more stable food source.  We hope they stick around all winter.  On the predatory songbird side of things, one of our naturalist interns, Kitty Lin, saw a Northern Shrike here a couple of weeks ago. This species actually catches and eats small rodents and even small birds!  Watch for it sitting high up on the top of a tree watching for potential prey.
Feed the Birds book
photo pf a man holding a book  andpointing to it's cover and smiling.If you want to learn more about our feeder visitors, I recently published Feed the Birds with Firefly Books.  Not only will it help you identify the birds coming to your feeder and how to attract more, it will guide you to understand bird behaviours that you can watch for in your own backyard.  Why is that woodpecker holding its wings like that?  Did that towhee just eat some snow?  What is that pair of Cedar Waxwings doing with that berry?  All the answers and more are in the book.  You can find a copy at Guelph’s Wild Birds Unlimited store (who donated some of our Arboretum bird feeders to us!). Have it signed! It’s a great Christmas present idea for the birder in your family (or yourself... that's allowed!)
Photos top to bottom: An American Robin recently sampling one of our many fruiting trees. Photo by Chris Earley. Barred Owl. Photo by William Konze. Northern Shrike. Photo by Karl and Marienna Egressy. Chris with his newest book.

Gosling Wildlife Gardens Revitalization

artist's rendering of the permaculture garden plan
Photo: Proposed Plan for The Permaculture Garden

Thanks to the generous support of the Goslings, a corner of The Arboretum has completely transformed from a field into a sheltered patchwork of ponds, glades, textures, and experiences that offer both diverse habitat for wildlife and learning opportunities for people. All gardens are intended to demonstrate practical approaches, thoughtful plant choices, and useful garden features that will inspire visitors to incorporate these elements to attract, sustain, and protect a variety of wildlife in their own backyards. While the theme of each garden has changed over time - sometimes dramatically - the guiding principle to educate, connect and inspire visitors remains.

Now the Gosling Foundation has donated $100,000 to support a revitalization of the beautiful Gosling Wildlife Gardens in The Arboretum. The reinvestment will renew and expand the infrastructure, plantings, signage, and features of each of the demonstration gardens. “In this multi-year revitalization, we look forward to significantly increasing the plant species diversity in the gardens, which in turn will enhance opportunities for supporting further wildlife and biodiversity within the space. We also aim to inspire our visitors by utilizing garden micro habitats to cultivate some very unique and important species of plants that they may be keen to try in their own gardens,” says Sean Fox, Manager of Collections.

You can learn more about the renewal project and keep up with the changes happening at the Gosling Wildlife Gardens on our website.

What to See in The Arboretum

Check out some of our recent posts below from our social media accounts. 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 on Instagram.]

Photo of a beaver swimming.It’s nice that we have the strong link between trees and beavers and a healthy forest right here in The Arboretum and within the City of Guelph! This individual seems content here. Click on the beaver photo to see the size difference between a beaver and a muskrat!

colour photo of the base of a larch treeMaples and other broad-leaved trees aren’t the only ones changing colour and dropping their leaves this time of year. Larches and Dawn Redwood are both deciduous conifers, which means that they’ll be dropping their needles this fall too. Check out these beautiful species in our Conifer Collection today!

colour photo of trees and a foot bridge.Did you know you can travel around the world at The Arboretum? The World of Trees collection holds over 400 species of trees and shrubs from around the world! You can walk along the 0.7km trail and admire northern hemisphere woody plants including both North American species and their Eurasian counterparts. Ever seen a Cucumber Tree? What about a Bald Cypress? Maybe a Mountain Pepperbush or Hardy Rubber Tree is more your fancy? You can find these and so many more in the World of Trees. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars for bird spotting. With fewer leaves in the way, they are easier to see!

Walk the Radial Line Trail to The Arboretum

Jenny & Kitty Lin, Naturalist Interns
screen capture  of 2 women at a trail head in the forest.

We may be a bit biased, but we think The Arboretum has some of the best trails to walk in the city of Guelph. Did you know that you can reach The Arboretum from downtown (or vice versa) via the new connection to the Radial Line Trail thanks to the collaborative efforts of The Arboretum, Cutten Fields Golf Club, and the Guelph Hiking Trail Club?

Starting at Marianne’s Park by the Covered Bridge, the Radial Line Trail runs beside the Eramosa River and connects to the James Street and Cutten Fields through a lush woodland filled with nature. As you continue down the trail, you will eventually reach the Arboretum Side Trail, which guides you into our Black Locust Grove and the main Arboretum beyond!

Whether you are a birder, fungus lover, rock enthusiast, or a botanist at heart, be sure to keep an eye out for nature’s treasures on the trail. There is something for everyone to enjoy along the way. Join our Naturalist Team on a tour of the trails to The Arboretum in this video. Will you discover all the things we did?

Getting Ready for *gasp* Winter in The Arboretum

A colour photo of a woman spraying a small tree with a solution carried in a container on her back.Every autumn, our Arboretum staff members navigate our plant collections, gardens and restoration sites while wearing backpack sprayers. What are they up to you might ask? They're on a mission to help protect our most vulnerable young trees and shrubs from the voracious winter appetites of rabbits and meadow voles. With too few natural predators in urban areas due to human disturbance, high populations of these herbivores will feast on the bark at the base of our young woody plants during the winter, and can quickly kill them. We aid our trees and shrubs through their first few years by applying a repellant - that is a mixture of blood meal and vegetable oil - to the base of each one. When sprayed onto the stems, the repellent fools The Arboretum’s bark-eaters into believing that a predator is nearby and persuades them to look for food elsewhere. Repellent applications are part of a toolbox that also includes physical tree wraps and guards, both of which help to ensure that our trees eventually reach a size where their bark is thick enough to prevent feeding damage. When walking through The Arboretum, it's always eye-opening to remember that all our trees once started out this small!

Sarah Farquharson, Horticulture Technician, applying blood meal and vegetable oil on a young Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli var. inermis ‘Cruzam’) in our nursery. Future destination is the Rosaceae Collection! Sarah’s role is supported in part by a Youth Employment Skills Program grant from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Photo by Sean Fox.

Walk the Labyrinth!

colour photo of a walking labyrinth

The Ecumenical Campus Ministry (part of the University of Guelph Student Experience) has partnered with The Arboretum to create a temporary meditation labyrinth near the Lilac garden. Created with biodegradable materials on site, this installation forms a concentric walking path that can be used for quiet contemplation. Visit for more information about labyrinths and labyrinth walk exercises. If you choose to visit, please respect physical distancing measures. Happy Walking!

Photo: The labyrinth in the Arboretum. Photo by Justine Richardson.

Donation and Dedication Opportunities

Colour photo of a dediction plaque Tree and bench dedications are available again! Donations can be made specifically to dedicate trees, benches, arbors, garden beds, even studentships. We recognize this support by placing a small plaque to honor a person, group, or event. These donations support our long-term collections management plan and have an impact on activities across The Arboretum. To learn more, please visit our website.

Photo: A dedication plaque in the Arboretum.

In the Ecosytem

colour photo of evening gross beaks at a bird feeder


Discover the world of birding this winter through eBird, and join an active online community in The Arboretum and beyond sharing bird observations, sightings, photos, and sound recordings. The data eBird collects is used by scientists, educators and birders alike to understand the movement and needs of birds at global scales, and better inform conservation strategies.

Bird Feeders and Project Feederwatch

Project Feederwatch is a continent-wide citizen science project that can be done by everyone at any age.  All you need to do is count the numbers of each bird species you see at our two bird feeder sites, one is at The Arboretum Centre and the other is in the Gosling Wildlife Gardens.  Counting for Feederwatch must be done on specific days - Thursdays and Fridays for The Arboretum Centre feeders, and Saturdays and Sundays for the Gosling Wildlife Garden feeders.  But you can come anytime you want, and you don't need to worry about missing days.  For more information and details instructions on how to participate, please send a message with "Project Feederwatch" in the subject line to

Photo of Evening Grosbeaks by Chris Earley.

From the Collection

Polly Samland, Horticultural and Plant Records Technologist
photo of trees in the landscape

This Tamarack is in the Native Trees of Ontario west loop, and in the background to the left is a large colony of aspen. Half are trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) and half are large-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata). In 1974, one tree was planted of each and then they were left to spread out, as they do, shooting up young trees in all directions until they met.

When you go out to visit the loop, you can see (especially now as the leaves are gone and the tree architecture becomes visible) one mighty old tree surrounded by consecutively smaller trees. This large-toothed aspen actually has the original accession tag embedded in the trunk where the bark has grown around and encased it.

In both cases, the offspring from the original tree are from underground runners, physically connected individuals and are genetically identical to the first tree (as opposed to if they were from seed). Some argue that certain poplar colonies could be considered thousands of years old, as individual trees decline and die but as a whole the tree is constantly regenerated.
Photo of the Tamarack and Aspen trees by Richelle Forsey.

50th Anniversary Event Archive

screenshot of powerpoint slideOn October 18th we kicked off celebrating The Arboretum’s 50 years of research, experiential learning, and community engagement with the talk ‘Local Leadership and Global Impact: Botanic Gardens Advancing Food Security’ by Dr. Saharah Moon Chapotin (Executive Director of the United States Botanic Garden). Chapotin discussed the important role gardens and arboreta can and do play in increasing food security through conservation, education, and collaborations. The talk was followed by a short Q&A with Arboretum Director Justine Richardson.

screen shot of man gesturing towards treeAlso included in the program was the video short Living Laboratory Conservation and Collections with Sean Fox, Manager of Collections. Fox shared The Arboretum’s Rare Woody Plants of Ontario program’s efforts in the conservation of plants under threat, including Canada’s first endangered tree, the Cucumber Tree (Magnolia acuminata).

Enter our Making Memories Contest!

graphic for Making Memories Contest.We love making memories at The Arboretum and for our 50th year we would love for you to make some with us!

To enter this month: take a photo of yourself next to one of the statues in Park in the Garden, subscribe to our newsletter, participate in FeederWatch, and/or take a photo of a manchurian cherry (Prunus maackii) tree in The Arb, upload it to your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and tag it #ArbMemories for your chance to win some Arboretum SWAG!

The November making Memories contest closes on December 1.

Please be mindful of COVID-19 safety measures and remember to be safe!

Arboretum Plant Babies in the Community


We love it when people share photos of their plants from The Arboretum in their yards and gardens! All of these plants were grown and tended by our fabulous volunteers (who we miss so much) from the seeding/germination stage to the potting stage until they were released out into the world at our annual Plant Sale.
Top:  Eastern Flowering Dogwood, Blue Stern Goldenrod
Middle: Kentucky Coffee Tree, Katalpa, Cherry Birch, Sycamore
Bottom: Fringe Tree, Cucumber Tree, Wahoo Tree

Is part of The Arb in your yard? Send us photos of your Plant Sale babies to
Thank you to Heather Brown, Judy Brisson, Elisa Tyrell, and Sylvia Watson for sharing your photos on Facebook and tending these plants.


colour photo of the Arboretum's 2021 desk top calendar.Give the gift of The Arboretum this holiday season! Look forward to 2021 with an Arboretum desk calendar featuring thirteen stunning views of The Arboretum. A variety of Arboretum merchandise including biodiversity sheets and apparel are also currently available for sale. Visit our Merchandise shop to place your order today!
Arboretum Merchandise

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.
Make a Donation Download & Print an Arboretum Map Think About Volunteering
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camera icon for photo creditThe header of this month's newsletter is an American Robin sampling from one of the Arboretum's many fruiting trees. Photo by Chris Earley.