Archive for the ‘Native Species’ Category

R.A. Riddell School is going on a Green Venture

May 19, 2016



HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE ( projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On May 28th and June 4th, Green Venture, R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents will be hosting Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden for the community to enjoy.


“Hard surfaces, such as driveways, parking lots and buildings, interrupt the natural water cycle by preventing rain water from soaking into the ground” says Deirdre Connell, Depave Paradise Program Manager at Green Venture. “This in turn leads to flooding, poor water quality, and creates urban heat islands that are warming up our cities. By removing pavement and replacing it with green space, we are increasing the infiltration rate of rain water, cooling our neighbourhoods, keeping our water clean, and providing us and our children with greater connections to the natural world”.

Bring your family and friends, young and old, and join R.A. Riddell and partners transform the schoolyard pavement into a vibrant and engaging green space for all to enjoy! “Community gardening and beautification projects like these are proven to increase sense of community ownership and stewardship, foster the development of community identity, bring people with various background together to work on a common goal, and help build community leaders” says Connell.

Volunteers are needed! This is a family friendly event and all are welcome. We will provide all necessary tools and safety equipment as well as food and drink for all volunteers. Please arrive dressed for the weather (Rain or Shine!), wearing sturdy closed-toe shoes and be ready to get your hands dirty.

For more information about how you can get involved, visit or contact Deirdre Connell, Program Manager at Green Venture at 905-540-8787 x 113 or

Funding and support for this project has been provided by the RBC Blue Water Project, EcoSpark, Green Communities Canada, Intact Financial Corporation and the Small Change Fund.


For more information, please contact:

Deirdre Connell Program Manager, Green Venture 905-­540-­8787, Ext. 113


Four Shades of Green

An update on our grass alternative beds

EcoHouse is getting greener — four shades greener to be exact!  Last summer we established four small test plots for different types of lawn alternatives, right in our own front yard.  We wanted to understand the benefits of each type firsthand, and be able to show visitors exactly how each would turn out.  This has been an exciting project right from the get-go.  There was much debate amongst staff and board as to which alternatives we should choose, and the four finalists that made it into the exhibit were:

White Clover
Elfin Thyme

White Clover, EcoLawn, and EcoAlternative were planted as seeds.  The Elfin Thyme was purchased in small established plugs.

After the first month, White Clover and EcoAlternative were off to a great start.  They sprouted up quickly and established well.  Hardly any weeding was needed, as the growth happened so quickly.  Both were lush and green, and needed to be mowed within a few weeks.  On the other hand, the EcoLawn and Thyme were growing very slowly, and in constant need of weeding and attention.

By the end of the summer, we were paying more attention to the EcoLawn.  It had filled in to be thick and dense, and the vibrant green colour was particularly appealing.  Aside from some early weeding (ok, a lot of early weeding), maintenance on this plot has been low and we haven’t needed to mow at all over the whole summer.

As for the Elfin Thyme, it is still too early to tell how it will fare in relation to the others.  We’ve spent the summer weeding because the plugs that we started with haven’t spread very far, and we expect it will take another two years or so until we see it filled in.  On the plus side, because of its low profile, we know this one won’t need any mowing, ever.

A quick staff poll indicates that the favourite so far is clover.

Stay tuned for an update in the spring of 2016, and we’ll let you know how each of the alternatives fared through the cold weather.


My Green Venture Internship: Lessons Learned

Hi! My name’s Areeba and I’ve just completed a seven week placement at Green Venture. I have learned many different things during the past seven weeks through my position as a green gardener where I assist with the maintenance of the many gardens and facilities present on the property.

During the weeks of my placement I can confidently say that I know how to successfully identify many plants and weeds, use various gardening tools (like a lawn mower), and paint skillfully. Sometimes, like many outdoor jobs, the weather turns on us. When I am indoors, I help keep the displays organized and up-to-date, organize materials, and assist with other tasks around the office. I also had the chance to participate in numerous road trips like a visit to a local farm with other staff.

Being a green gardener has provided me with extensive knowledge of environmental issues and initiatives, and the opportunity to take part in the solutions. For example, I helped to build the new green roof at EcoHouse. Green Roofs are a cost-efficient way to save energy, manage storm water, and insulate the building. This was an eye-opening experience that prompted me to think about the other green initiatives in the Hamilton community.

EcoHouse Green Roof

EcoHouse Green Roof

I have gained valuable experience and skills while working at Green Venture. Before working here I had no real understanding of the issues that are present in our city and in the community. By communicating with the talented and educated program staff and coworkers, I gained thorough insight about various environmental topics and going green together!

Written by: Areeba

Adventures in Turtle Rescue

Written by: Ashley Keenan

Every now and again things happen unexpectedly that can provide surprise opportunities for environmentalism in daily life.

The Rescued Turtle Eggs

The Rescued Turtle Eggs

This lesson was quickly learned by Green Venture’s Garden Coordinator Julia Shulist when preparing to launch the Riverdale Community Garden Project. Peeking out of a large mound of soil were tiny turtle eggs! Being the environmentally conscious and animal loving type of person she is, all work was stopped until Julia could figure out what to do with these little guys. Through contacting the Ministry of Natural Resources we were pointed to a volunteer based, non-profit animal rescue in our area that focuses on native Ontario Wildlife that had recently added Snapping Turtles to their list of animals eligible to be assisted!

It should be noted that Snapping Turtles are a protected species, and in almost all cases (as with all protected species), should not be moved from their habitat, or where the eggs have been laid. However, in this situation; a very public, open garden still under construction where the eggs were deemed to be at serious risk, a rare exception was made to move the turtles to a safer place. And to move them as quickly as possible so that the eggs would have the best possible chance to thrive.

Within an hour, trained volunteers were extracting eggs from our mountain of soil. No easy feat with the abundance of rain we’ve had, which caused the soil to start collapsing as eggs were removed. By the end of the retrieval, 32 eggs had been removed and placed into a secure container, later to be transferred to an incubator. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that they continue to develop and hatch in the fall!

Did You Know? – There are 8 species of turtle in Ontario and 7 of those are considered at risk, of special concern or are listed as endangered

Ontario Snapping Turtles 101

After our experience in turtle rescue we thought it might be a good idea to let people know what to do if they run into a similar situation. turtles primarily lay eggs from May-June so you never know what you might find! Here is a crash course in why Ontario snapping turtles are at risk and how you can help.


  • Species at risk – Snapping turtles were added to the list in 2009 under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act classified as a ‘species of special concern’ meaning they are vulnerable to extinction
  • Hunting – Despite their vulnerable status it is still legal to hunt snapping turtles in the province of Ontario. Hunters with a valid license can hunt 2 turtles a day with a maximum of 5 in your possession at a time. Hunters go for the largest turtles which unfortunately are also the most fertile. With breeding already an issue and a lack of monitoring done on turtle populations, hunting can potentially remove all the viable breeding turtles over time
  • Illegal poaching – while it is legal to hunt snapping turtles in Ontario many people don’t want to abide by the hunting rules, seasons, and bag limits around hunting turtles, and resort to illegal poaching
  • Road Crossing – most human related deaths to snapping turtles are caused by being hit by cars when crossing a road. With so much habitat loss and increased urbanization there are few safe passages for these slow moving creatures
  • Breeding – snapping turtles don’t become viable breeders until 20 years of age. Late breeding ages and natural predators raiding nests leave very few birthing successes in the wild
  • Habitat Loss – Wetlands are the snapping turtles main habitat; 70% of the wetlands in Southern Ontario are gone due to development

How to Help

  • Report a Sighting to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry – include GPS coordinates and photos when possible
  • Careful Driving – watch out for turtle crossings! They are very slow and cannot get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Pay extra attention from May – October when they are mating and nesting
  • Report Illegal activity – If someone is poaching on your property or on public lands contact the Ministry of Natural Resoruces (MNR) 1-877-TIPS-MNR
  • Call your MPP and ask them to support the ban on hunting snapping turtles
  • If you come across a nesting area, don’t try to move the nest yourself; call the MNR to find a licensed animal rescuer, such as the Hobbitstee or The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), in your area. If you’re not sure where to start check out

Whether it is turtle rescue or something entirely different each day can provide us with chances to make a difference; even when slightly inconvenient. Has anything happened to you that allowed you to let your environmentalism shine through? Leave us a comment!

Baby Turtles

Baby Turtles

Climate Change Action of the Month: Depave Paradise

On September 27th and October 4th, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School and Green Venture, a local not-for-profit, teamed up to host Hamilton’s second and largest Depave Paradise.

On September 27th, a crew of over 30 staff, students, parents, volunteers and members of the community removed over 1400 square feet of asphalt from the schoolyard to increase the school’s green, play space.On October 4th, over 50 volunteers came back to fill the space with a native species rain garden.

This was Green Venture’s biggest Depave Paradise project after Depaving St. Augustine Catholic Elementary School in 2012 and it will add to the over 10,000 square feet depaved across Canada through the Depave Paradise program. To learn more, please visit

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For pictures from the Depave Day on September 27th, click here. For pictures from the Planting Day on October 4th, click here.
Removing asphalt and concrete renews and beautifies community spaces. Demonstration projects like St. Margaret Mary help to build sense of community and motivate participants to consider other depaving projects. Beyond the community building, the benefits of depaving are numerous. They include:
  • Increasing green, community space by adding in a natural playgrounds, community vegetable gardens, trees, rain gardens, or other permeable surfaces
  • Decreasing the heat island effect to help cool things down
  • Decreasing the runoff of stormwater to lower its impacts on our sewers and help improve our community’s water quality

We would like to give CN EcoConnexions: From the Ground Up and Shell Fuelling Change a huge thank you for their generous support of this project.

Gardening in the Shade

Having a garden on your property is beneficial in many ways, but sometimes we’re challenged when there’s a tree blocking the sun, a fence or even when the direction of the sun just doesn’t quite reach the area where you want to plant. Gardening in the shade can be tough. Choosing the proper plants that suit the lighting requirements is very important. Another thing to consider when planting in the shade, is to choose plants that are able to withstand lots of moisture. Since the sun isn’t quite hitting the garden, the moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly.

At Green Venture, we recommend perennial plants that are native to the region. That way there will be less pests, and they will attract our much needed pollinators. When choosing these plants, it is important that you do your research to find out if these plants can withstand shade and moisture.

Perennial Native Plants that can withstand shade and moisture:

Foam FlowerFoam Flower

Ostrich FernOstrich Fern

Soloman's SealSolomon’s Seal

Wooly Blue Violet Wooly Blue Violet

Wild GingerWild Ginger Tall Bell FlowerTall Bell Flower
Wild GeraniumWild Geranium Fridge SedgeFringed Sedge



A great tip for a shaded garden is to go with a woodland garden theme. Native shade tolerant plants make an excellent woodland garden. Luckily, there are still lots of plants to choose from, with a variety of different colours, shapes, and sizes. Even though a garden may be dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t brighten it up with some plants!

Don’t give up, and remember that you can plant in all sorts of light, you just have to remember the golden rule: Always remember to choose the proper plants for the proper place.

Now get planting!

Written by: Stacey Almas

Xeriscaping – Water Wise Gardening

Would you like a garden that is low maintenance and stress free? A xeriscape garden is just for you!

Xeriscaping is landscaping and gardening that reduces the need for extra watering or irrigation as an alternative to various types of traditional gardening. In the past, helping plants survive drought meant turning on the sprinkler but now there’s a more water efficient way of gardening that saves on water and on time called xeriscaping.

Drought tolerant species make gardening easier and help reduce the amount of water you are using. By having a xeriscape garden, you conserve water, save money, and have more time to enjoy in your garden! Not only do these gardens benefit you, but they also give your property a beautiful garden. There are many interesting drought tolerant species that can be placed in xeriscape gardens, which can make your garden unique and different. Some plants that can be used in xeriscaping include succulent plants, trees and shrubs, perennials, drought tolerant annuals and ornamental grasses.

At Green Venture, we recommend planting native species. There are several benefits of xericape gardening but choosing native plants will also help attract our much needed pollinators! (Birds, butterflies and bees)

Here are a few examples of native drought tolerant perennial species:

You can have a lot of fun with designing and making your very own xeriscape garden. You can do this by choosing a variety of different colours, shapes and sizes. A great way to make your garden unique is by adding ornamental grasses. They add texture, and depth to your garden and will also give your garden some winter interest.

Xeriscape gardens are unique, help you save time and money and most important help reduce the amount of wasted water.  I hope to see more of these gardens around!


Written By:

Stacey Almas (Summer Ecohouse Green Gardener) 

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