Building Relationships: In good company

Building Relationships: In good company

You will probably have seen the 3 videos that are now out about urban watershed management and health. They are available on our You Tube channel. Now in the works are 3 videos on urban themes - again, from a scientific viewpoint, one for the kids and one for the public. Thanks to the Potato Growers of Alberta for their collaboration and support of our Film Project ... and this write-up!

It's Your Turn to be SUPERMAN...WOMAN...CHILD ...

(Editor's Note: We are being invaded by a noxious species. It looks sweet and innocent, but Oh-HO!!! what a nasty beast! Major environmental deterioration, loss of beef production, damage to crops. Individual plants can produce over 150,000 seeds PER SQURE METRE. It has an immensely long taproot and sucks the area dry. Literally. You can help. Please bring along your family July 16th from 7-9pm and FIGHT THE INVASIVES!!!)  

Here's what Knapweed looks like. It's disguised as pretty. It's effects are devastating.

Its that time again..... the third knapweed pull of the 2015 season is coming up fast!! 

I am very excited about this weed pull because it is the site of our most successful weed pull so far.  In 2013, we had our first City of Lethbridge weed pull at Elizabeth Hall Wetlands and it was a HUGE SUCCESS. 

We pulled out over 50 bags of knapweed and had a super fun time doing it!

Here's where to meet :-)

July 16 2015 Knapweed Pull

Help keep our river valley healthy and diverse by pulling prohibited noxious weeds in the hopes of eradication.  Save the Date: Thursday July 16th 7-9pm

Elizabeth Hall Wetlands

Next:   Thursday August 20th 7-9pm Location TBA
Next: Thursday September 17th7-9pm Location TBA 

Why is Elizabeth Hall Wetland is such a special place - hidden away in the center of the city?

  • Elizabeth wetlands was part of the Urban Parks project and was originally called the Oxbow Lake Nature area. 1987 the area was renamed the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands
  •  Elizabeth Hall was born in England and came to Canada with her family in 1958. She was a Lethbridge City Council member from 1977 to 1986 and during that time she worked tirelessly to ensure the river valley maintained its natural environment during park development. She is also credited with developing the Helen Schuler Coulee Centre, now the Helen Schuler Nature Centre
  • Red-winged Black Birds, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Orioles, several varieties of ducks, geese, muskrats, sandpiper, beavers and their dams, spotted turtles, and deer are some of the wildlife you can watch as you weed pull!  

Here are some reason I am so passionate about these weed pulls:

Our goal is to work on invasive plant education and awareness.  Through this process we can prevent the further introduction and spread of invasive species, and in this case specifically knapweed. 

We have chosen to focus specifically on Knapweed control in the Oldman River valley because it is a highly competitive introduced plant that invades native vegetation and threatens the health of our watershed. If left unchecked, the loss to farmers, ranchers and recreational users could be disastrous.  It is a prohibited noxious weed in Alberta.

We have chosen a multifaceted approach incorporating the physical efforts of hand pulling, through events like this, and direct herbicide application.  The combination of mechanical and chemical methods has been shown to be a great success in the past.

We love our volunteers!

See you all July 16th at Elizabeth Hall Wetlands!!!

Garden Days kicks off on Friday!

(Editor's note: After being inspired at the Garden Days events you'll want to get started on your own yard and OWC can help! We've got the 50 best plants for Southern Alberta, tips on xeriscaping, a photo library of inspiring local gardens and more practical resources on the Prairie Urban Garden Project Page). 

What have you got planned for Garden Days? You won't want to miss these events!

A fantastic lineup of activities is set to kick off Garden Days in Alberta and across Canada, this Friday, June 19.  In an annual coast-to-coast celebration that always takes place on the Father's Day weekend, Garden Days celebrates Canadian gardens, gardening and environmental stewardship.  It's also about bringing awareness to what you do, within and for, your own community.

Across Alberta, public gardens and groups are celebrating Garden Days with three days of fun activities for all ages in beautiful outdoor spaces.  Find out more about what's happening in your area, and check dates and times on the "Activities" schedule at <>

Provincial Flagship Event:

Alberta's Devonian Botanic Garden (5 km north of Devon, on Hwy 60) launched our provincial flagship event in 2014.  This year, their Garden Days program opens Friday with discounted daily admission and an evening opera, followed by a weekend that offers a photographer's drop-in morning, a family program of insects and butterflies, sunrise yoga, garden tours and Father's Day BBQ.


  • Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is hosting an appreciation day for gardeners with reduced admission, cake and guided garden tours.
  • The Galt Museum will serve you complimentary coffee as you browse their native plant garden, south garden and nurses' garden. 
  • Learn all about trees from an arborist in the guided tour of Fairfield Gardens at the Lethbridge Research Centre. 
  • Bring your own picnic lunch and find out what's growing at the Interfaith Food Bank's learning garden. 
  • Join the Lethbridge & District Horticultural Society on their Waterton National Park excursion to admire Alberta wildflowers and to consider their cultivation potential for city gardens.

Waterton Lakes National Park:

  • Choose from many botanical-themed activities during the Waterton Wildflower Festival that coincides with Garden Days.


  • Take a guided native plant tour of trees, shrubs and flowers in the Canadian Wilds at the Calgary Zoo.

Red Deer:

  • Parkland Garden Centre celebrates the home garden with family activities that include food vendors, "Ask the Experts", a course on BBQing with herbs and garden tours.


  • Olds College Botanic Gardens celebrates its 50th anniversary with garden tours, demos, a plant sale and the launch of a new garden database for staff and visitors.

St. Albert:

  • Visit St. Albert Botanic Park for gardening demonstrations, tours and seed planting for children


  • The Edmonton Native Plant Group is hosting two guided tours - one at John Janzen Nature Centre, where you can learn how to grow native wildflowers and pot one up to take home, and another at their native plant demonstration bed at Muttart Conservatory with a gift of free wildflower seeds for visitors.
  • Inhale the fragrance of heritage peonies at Fort Edmonton Park and listen to heritage gardeners tell the story of this historic reproduction of a significant Western Canadian peony collection.
  • Visit Muttart Conservatory for guided tours of indoor botanical collections in their pyramid glasshouses, as well as orchid talks and a kid's plant discovery corner.

Enjoy the Garden Days celebrations!

June Flanagan

Alberta Spokesperson for Garden Days

June Flanagan is a Lethbridge botanist, environmental horticulturist and author.  She has published five regional books, including the local plant guide Common Coulee Plants of Southern Alberta and gardening guides Edible Plants for Prairie Gardens and Native Plants for Prairie Gardens.  See June's web site for details, and follow what's in bloom with her on Instagram or "like" her Facebook Author Page:

Nature's burstin' out all over!

(Editor's Note: Are you one of the many people who are itching for green in your garden and thinking about what to plant? There are many ideas out there for great gardens, beautiful flower beds - and watching for nature's spring plants. The Oldman recently disovered a nice selection of prairie plant seeds at the Galt museum - and here, thanks to botanist June Flanagan, some tips on what to look for on your spring walks. Remember to plant something for the butterflies - and enjoy!)

You're in for a treat if you head out wildflower hunting in the Oldman River Watershed this week, as warm weather is coaxing buds to break earlier and faster than usual.

Prairie crocus enthusiasts will still find fuzzy flower buds (Anemone patens) emerging from cool, damp areas on north-facing hillsides.   And for gardeners, the arrival of golden beans (Thermopsis rhombifolia) is a reminder that temperatures are now perfect for sowing lettuce seeds. 

Keep your eyes close to the soil for cushion plants like plains milk-vetch (Astragalus gilviflorus) bearing white pea-shaped flowers tucked between soft silver leaves, or the very tiny tufted milk-vetch (Astragalus spatulatus) with lavender blossoms. 
It's likely you'll see moss phlox (Phlox hoodii) plants pressed against dry ridges and south-facing slopes, smothered with white star-shaped flowers that resemble patches of receding snow, and you may spot the small white daisies of prairie townsendia (Townsendia hookeri) scattered among grassy flats.
Some sunny beauties you might discover are yellow prairie violets (Viola nuttallii), and the flat floral umbrellas of leafy wild parsley (Musineon divaricatum). A few yellow bells (Fritillaria pudica) continue to echo the buzz pollination of bees, but many are already setting seed.  
To help you identify what's blooming, University of Lethbridge Library continues to host a free download of our local guide to native prairie plants called "Common Coulee Plants of Southern Alberta".  The updated edition with photographs and searchable links by flower colour travels easily on your smartphone or tablet.  Get your free copy in EPUB or PDF format  at <> or find more information on my web site.

Enjoy spring!

June Flanagan is a Lethbridge botanist, environmental horticulturist and author.  She has published five regional books, including the local plant guide Common Coulee Plants of Southern Alberta and gardening guides Edible Plants for Prairie Gardens and Native Plants for Prairie Gardens.  See June's web site for details, and follow what's in bloom with her on Instagram or "like" her Facebook Author Page: