Welcome to the gardens of Church of the Ascension. We acknowledge that our church and its property lie on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabe. We give thanks for their stewardship of these lands and the local waterways over the millennia.
It was important to us with these gardens to add as many plants as possible that are native to our region of Ontario. Native plants have evolved simultaneously with native wildlife and thus provide mammals, birds, and insects with the food and shelter they thrive best upon.
In addition to including native plants, we have also implemented practices that support the soil and wildlife year-round. Seed heads remain over winter on many plants; leaf litter is retained and used as a light mulch; most garden material is composted on-site; wood is left to decay where feasible.
In preparing to renew these gardens, some of us had the opportunity to learn two Ojibwe words: Aanii, meaning ‘Hello, I see the light in you.’ and Mnidoosh—’Little Spirit’ (the word for insect). Aanii, Mnidoosh. May these gardens embody this expansive view of relationship, among the people of this community and among all living beings. We hope you enjoy your time here and feel free to stroll about.
We worked with pre-existing beds and established new ones, created paths around our sign, and sought to pay tribute to the stump of the maple tree toppled in 2016. We planted trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, many of which are marked (with both common and scientific names). Most of the flowers are perennials, that is, they come back in the same spot year after year. They were selected with a view to providing pollen and nectar all season long.
- Early season: serviceberry tree, arrowwood viburnum, New Jersey tea, golden alexanders, wild lupine, wild strawberry, baptisia.
- Mid-season: anise hyssop, beebalm, butterfly milkweed, smooth rose, liatris, purple coneflower.
- Late season: black-eyed Susan, obedient plant, grey-headed coneflower, smooth and New England asters, little bluestem grass.
We included some annuals, too (plants that complete their life cycle in one season): purple salvia, cosmos, traditional tobacco. These plants, though non-native, are well-recognized by pollinators and help to fill in bloom-time gaps.
Shade lends itself to woodland plants. First up is a witch hazel tree underplanted with wild phlox. Moving along you will see columbines, pagoda dogwood trees, and wild geranium. Wild ginger and ferns lead to an eastern hemlock tree.
Northeast Fence Line
A former compost heap has become the soil bed for a wildflower garden of milkweed, goldenrod, asters, high-bush cranberry shrubs and some tree seedlings.
Back Property Line
- Black cherry, red maple and Manitoba maple: trees are an excellent source of food for birds, not just with the fruit, seeds and nuts they produce but also for the insects they host.
- Untended areas are kept for garden compost and brush pile. Invasive plants such as garlic mustard are not composted on-site but rather sent to the City’s green bin composting where the high heat involved kills the seed.
- The labyrinth inspired plantings of cedars and native grasses and perennials.
This sunny garden has evolved over time with love and is viewed by many passersby. Eye-catching tulips, iris and peonies start off the season, along with a large serviceberry and a dwarf cherry. Hollyhocks, phlox, thyme, blanket flower, yarrow, and kitchen herbs all have a home here, along with new plantings such as ninebark and black chokeberry shrubs.
East, South, West, North: A few paces right of centre, laid out in bricks, is a Celtic cross pointing in the four directions. This is meant to pay homage to both the Anglican and Indigenous traditions for whom these symbols and directions carry great power.
Along the Sidewalk
The children of Ascension grew sunflowers in 2022. The bees enjoyed the nectar, and the birds and squirrels ate the seeds.
These gardens are made possible through the support of many people and organizations. We wish to thank most sincerely the following for teachings & advice, encouragement, hard work, and gifts of plants and money.
- The Corporation and Parishioners of Church of the Ascension
- The City of Ottawa, Community Environmental Projects Grant Program (2022)
- Pollinator Partnership Canada
- Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton
- Ecology Ottawa