"Quiet" gardens - finding solitude in the hustle and bustle of the Capital City (Ottawa)

Richmond Ontario Quiet Garden Fall Adventure Wild Here

Did you know?  Ottawa now has two official "Quiet Gardens" for locals and tourists to visit.

One in Kanata at St John's Parish of March Anglican church and the other in Richmond as part of St. John the Baptist Anglican church property.  Both are larger landscapes that include a cemetery and both have Labyrinths also.

Rural Garden and Labyrinth to Visit in Kanata Wild Here
- St John's Parish of March Anglican church garden now officially a "Quiet Garden" -

Labyrinth Visit on a Fall Morning outside Ottawa Wild Here
- St. John the Baptist Anglican Church Quiet Garden - 

Don't know what a Quiet Garden is?

This movement started in the U.K. through a Christian organization but now over 300 gardens are registered all around the world!

Quiet Gardens offers visitors "outdoor space for prayer and reflection... and create opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices."

Dappled Shade in Unitarian Garden Urban Retreat
- Shady spot in the Unitarian Meditation Garden - 

Who can visit a Quiet Garden?

"All are welcome to Quiet Gardens, whatever spiritual path they follow."  But do confirm that the location you are planning to visit is a public space and not a private garden as some gardens are located on private property, as part of people's homes.  Other "private" gardens may be part of a place of worships' landscape - just check with the faith community but you'll find that most welcome any community member to come and enjoy their space.

Wild Here Urban Nature Retreat Ottawa

While the two registered Quiet Gardens are located outside the city centre of Ottawa they are definitely worth a visit.  Make it a day trip, both gardens have labyrinths which provide great spots for walking meditation.  The faith communities also offer special events, such as regular guided labyrinth walks or other events from time to time. And while you are on the outskirts, explore the neighbourhoods!

There are also a couple of other lovely urban gardens that are unofficial "Quiet" Gardens here in the city if you don't have time (or the means) to get to the two more rural spaces.  Here are a few that I really find peaceful and enjoyable green spaces:
  • First Unitarian Meditation Garden (30 Cleary Avenue off Richmond Road)
  • Mount Calvary Community Garden (933 Smythe Road)
  • Knox Presbyterian Church (120 Lisgar Street - corner of Elgin)
  • Christ Church Cathedral (414 Sparks Street) This lovely garden is actually a central courtyard and accessible only during public hours - but worth a visit!
Wild Here Community Garden Nature Retreat

"Quiet Gardens are accessible, friendly and adaptable to local needs, and aim to be places where people can find welcome, stillness and spiritual refreshment. The outdoor space and garden act as both a context and focus, in which to share the inner search for wholeness, natural beauty and silence..."

All quoted italicized text is from the Quiet Garden Movement website.

Is there a Quiet Garden in Your City if you are not from Ottawa?

Do you have a favourite spot 
to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city?

Where you can drop into some solitude and surround yourself with green?

Urban Oasis Courtyard Garden Ottawa Wild Here
- Christ Church Cathedral Garden Courtyard -

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10 (more) Favourite Wildflowers

Very excited to be back and writing about more wildflowers.  It's been a long summer and I wasn't able to do as much here as I'd hope but still want to add a couple of warm weather posts!  Still lots of time to get out and enjoy!

As mentioned in my first list of ten wildflowers this spring, I tried to make a list of just ten and it just kept going on, so I realized that the best option was to make two lists - one for spring and early summer and the other for later in the season and autumn.  What's great is I've already provided a highlight of local autumn flowers so I don't have to necessarily revisit these ones, but I still want to give some a bit of shout out!  So here's ten more great wildflowers:

Wild Here Urban Wildflowers Primrose Goldfinch

Evening Primrose (native) - This is a bit of a unique infloresence and it's an interesting natural phenomenon that these flowers open later in the day (hence the "evening".  I have a soft spot for this one also because it's a favourite of Finches.   Check it out on your end of day strolls!

Wild Here Ottawa Vervain Wildflower Nutlets

Blue Vervain (native) - Someone once talked about this one as an important flower that supports a high level of biodiversity.  Since then, it's been on my plant radar.  It's a bit of a shy plant that pops up in August with its small blue spikes which transform into nutlets after the flower peters out.

Wild Here Teasel like Cup Flower

Teasel (naturalized) How do I explain my amazement at Teasel?  Encountering a plant that is looms overhead deserves a bit of respect to say the least.  And those seedheads *BOOM* - I cannot say enough - and they make great dried flower arrangements.  *Notice the leaves like cup flowers collect water for wildlife!

- Past Bloom (need to take a picture while in bloom!) - Photo by Viliam Glazduri -

Canada Thistle (naturalize) Goldfinches... need I say more!  :  ) The reason I'm listing this in later summer, even though it starts blooming earlier, is that I seek out thistle patches once they have turned to seed to enjoy the antics of the "thistle fluff"-loving birds.  Bring your binoculars for this show.

Wild Here Urban Wildflowers Groundnut 2017

Groundnut (native) I just can't.  Even.  The first time I saw this in bloom I thought I was in a tropical paradise.  As a vine, it coyly winds up the stems and branches of other plants but when it pops, wow, what a show!  It's not aggressive so don't worry about it's "dance" partner just enjoy the lovely orangey-pink blooms.

Jewelweed Wildflower Hummingbirds Wild Here

Jewelweed (native) - As I mentioned in a previous post, if you find yourself a decent patch just hang out and wait until some hummingbirds appear.  This lovely late summer flower, that blooms for up to two months, shows up in small masses but it's tricky as it reseeds so you may not find it exactly in the same spot the following year.

Urban wetland Wild Here Wildflower Boneset

Boneset (native) - I "met" this plant while taking a wetlands course and I knew it would be a fast friend as this lovely plant would always pop out to greet me with its familiar leaves - an easy one to recognize once you know what it looks like, especially when it blooms late in the summer.

- Aptly named "Turtlehead" wildflower -

- Blurry (sorry!) photo of Bottled Gentian (this is the flower in bloom - its petals never open) -

Turtlehead + Bottled Gentian (both native) - It was too hard to choose between Turtlehead and Bottled Gentian so here they are together on the list.  It works because they both bloom at the same time, and many times I see them together hanging out anyway.  It's a party at this time of the year!

- New England Aster -

Asters (native) Plural.  There are so many.  They are such a delight.  They start popping up in August depending on how much sunning they've been doing over the warm season.  The blues of the New England Aster, the small dazzle of Pannicle Aster, the Flat-Top variety, everything is great when it's coming up Asters!

Wildflowers London Ontario Wild Here

Snake Root (native) - How to explain my interest in this plant... it's unassuming, it's white flower doesn't stand out too much, it's a little like a simpler version of Boneset (without the cool leaves).  Maybe it's the unusual "bad-ass" name or the fact that it's white flowers look like little starbursts... there's just something about this plant that turns my head!


So that's it.  That's another TEN plants and of course it just scratches the surface.  I've really started noticing tree blooms this year and I'm starting to look at smaller plants that get passed over so easily.  It'll be so incredibly fun to see how this list evolves over the years as new plants catch my eye and I start recognizing them more and more!

- A dense stand of Panicle Aster - 
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A Revisit of the Rout/e Planted Poetry Sites - CSArt Ottawa Project

On the August long weekend I had time to check out the poetry sites to see if the Rout/e Footpress collection was still up.  (This is the post about putting up the poems earlier this year.)  The big question for this footpress (as with the others) is how would people interact with the poetry, would they remain in the wild and how would they weather the elements.  With this footpress being the first in a more urban area, we had assumed that they wouldn't last as long as other past series and there were some locations that we chose that we felt had more traffic - which meant that more people might see the poems - but the higher traffic would then also raise the possibility of the poem being taken down, taken away or in some way disappear.

So now that we've shared with you the seven locations where the poems were planted in May - what is your guess in terms of which poems are still out there?

When I'm out in parks and green spaces I end up taking photos of what I see, whether wildlife, plants and other curious stuff, so I've added a short species list of what I noticed that day.  You'll see that currently my focus is heavily on plants but I do hope to learn (and notice) more trees and bird species in the future!  Some areas were pretty quiet and I didn't see much of interest but a few spots I just kept snapping photos of everything - you'll see what I mean as you go through the photos.  I also saw a really cool animal at the first site which was a great start to the day!

(p.s. if I'm identifying anything wrong or I miss it - feel free to let me know in the comments!)


Mink Spotted!


Species Noted: 
Chipmunk, Mallards, Bee, Mink
Cattails, Waterlily, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Curly Dock, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Virginia Creeper, Thistle, Milkweed, Joe Pie Weed, Yellow Coneflower
Pine, Birch, Maple, Beech, Willow



Species Noted:
Maple, Virginia Creeper, Elderberry, Hostas (introduced) Lungwort (introduced)



Species Noted: 
Basswood, Spruce, Sumac, Asters, Spiderwort (?), Sparrow



Species Noted:
Chickory, Canada Thistle, Asters, Crown Vetch
Sumac, Sumac and more Suman, Spruce, Hackberry


The Primrose is taller than me!


Species Noted:
Daddy long legs,
Wild Cucumber, Purple nightshade, Jewelweed, Meadowsweet, Black-eyed Susan, Yellow Primrose (taller than me!), Queen Anne's Lace, Canada Goldenrod, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Bugleweed, Plantain, Purple Loosestrife, Burdock,



Species Noted:
Gulls, Mallards, Raccoon (prints), Dragonfly
Pickerelweed, Motherwort (?), Virginia Creeper, Bellwort
Pines, Willow, Maple


DID NOT FIND CHRISTINE McNAIR's POEM (but did find post)

Species Noted:

Yellow Loosestrife, Virginia Creeper, Panickle Aster
Maple Seedlings, Unidentfied Shrub with Berries, Maple Trees


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