Whitehead Park 2015


As FTCW have worked for so many years in Whitehead Park [WHP], the web site has changed a bit to reflect the large volume of photos and notes taken.  The WHP page is now divided into years, and starting with 2015, the most recent will be at the top of the page, with more notes to highlight the work being done, the changes, the new plantings and the invasive plants being removed.

If you have any comments, questions, photos to add, or advice, please email :         lori4675@gmail.com

* starred photos, with credit/s, are taken from:    http://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/

** starred notes: Plants of Coastal BC   Pojar and MacKinnon. BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing. 1994.

Dec 2015

14 December, 2015:  Returned to Lohr Road to find our tarp gone and the contents dumped on the ground. That is very annoying as it makes things harder to pick up and leaves more seeds behind. I had asked Saanich to wait on the pick up as we will finish this week and it means only one pick up for them instead of two. Oh well.  Audrey and Mary had a great time finishing up the weeding. We worked right to the edge of the raging creek and neither of us fell in. It is very satisfying to see the area cleared even though we know plenty of seeds will happily sprout in the spring. A very satisfying 2 hours in spite of the missing tarp. We decided to take the next two weeks off.

7 December, 2015:  I left the sign at Whitehead and we went to Lohr Road. We are working our way in sections from the road side to the creek. The black berries are well rooted at the top of the old retaining wall by the creek. We are probably not getting out the main root, but we are doing a good job of knocking them back and removing all the tip roots. It is fun to be working in such an exposed place as we chat with passersby. Mrs. Meek said she will join us sometime. Audrey and Mary 1 ½ hours.

Nov 2015

30 November, 2015:  Left a note on our sandwich board at the park to say we were down at Lohr Road and carried on from where we were last Monday. We were glad we left the note because two Saanich Parks people saw it and came and joined us. As always that made a big difference. Saanich had taken last week’s invasives and Saanich Parks will take today’s. It is great to see all the natives planted a year ago flourishing in spite of the competition. They will spread even farther next year. Worked 2 hours with Saanich.


23 November, 2015:  Audrey and I checked out the work done of Saturday. Evergreen and friends planted everything they had, hardhack, ninebark, salmonberry and several Doug fir. It looks great. After checking that out and talking to a woman who may join us some time, we went down to Lohr Road. We have been dying to get at the thistles down there. When we got there we realized it will take several days to get the invasives out. There are blackberries as well as the thistles. The digging is mostly very easy due to the quantity of mulch that was spread before planting. We left a big pile which I will ask Saanich to pick up. It was so exciting we worked for almost 2 hours.

16 November:  A pleasant morning. Mary directed a walking group through our trail and also told them about the Historical Tour Brochure. They appreciated the local knowledge.

Audrey and Mary worked away a cleaning out more black berries, some from the roses near the lake and some farther up the slope. We will never get to the end on them but there are fewer and fewer as we go along. We are looking forward to the planting party on Saturday. We were there for 1 ½ hours.

9 November:  Mary and Audrey worked on black berry roots on area to be planted on Nov. 21st. Got most of those on the water side of the path. Audrey worked on the shoots coming up on the area already cleared. It is good to have Audrey back after losing her finger tip. 1 ½ hours each.

2 November: Good day of work. Robyn and Lindsey from Saanich Parks there. Raked leaves from little stream, pulled blackberries from top exclosure and lots from last patch down to path by creek, mulched and raked paths and then spread cardboard over last of Reed Canary Grass.

Robyn and the Evergreen team will plant on 21 Nov. Mary worked for 3 hours.

Autumn’s gifts in Whitehead Park: Rose hips, Mallard drake in Tod Creek, evidence of the volunteers’ hard work, and evergreen fronds.


IMG_5294 IMG_5300 IMG_5306 IMG_5314 IMG_5319


Oct 2015

26 October: No work

19 October: No work

12 October:  Thanksgiving Day. No work.

5 October:  Mary spent 1 hour clearing the stream bed of horsetail, sticks and other bits in preparation for winter rains. I will take a rake up there when the leaves fall. Pulled blackberry alongside the stream and in the corner by the wet land. It is getting easier as the ground softens. Quiet and pleasant.

Sept 2015

28 September:  Mary and Joanne for 1 ½ hours. Joanne’s last Monday. She weeded blackberry roots in prep for a work party. I cut blackberry canes from roses around our big tree. We were happy to see that Evergreen people had cut black berries and ivy from south fence on west side. A good start.

21 September:  Mary and Joanne for 1 hour. Weeding Morning glory and bb roots as the soil is now damp enough. Don and Robyn from Saanich came a carried on the work.

14 September:  Met with Andrew Burger to discuss plans. Joanne weeded out some morning glory. Planting to take place this fall. Salmonberry, Ninebark, Sambucus, Hardhack, etc. to be planted in clusters in the wet area. We will do some weeding. Work party on Oct. 6 from TD-Evergreen will spread cardboard, mulch and put chips on trails and remove fence posts. Park is almost to the place where it will just need maintenance, weeding and watering. Joanne 1 hour, Mary 1 ½ hours.

7 September: Labour Day. We laboured elsewhere.

 August 2015

31st August: Mary and Carol for 1 hour. Weeded lamium and other bits from south east corner. More to go. But easy weeding.

24 August: Audrey, Carol McDougall and Mary spent 1 ½ hours cutting back blackberry canes and weeding throughout the site, among first plantings, in the two exclosures, among the roses and at the lamium. All is very dry and we are waiting for rains to soften the soil before we attempt the blackberry roots.

17 August: Audrey, Mary and Carol McDougall worked for 1 ½ hours. We checked out the west side where as promised the mowing has been extended closer to the stream. We pulled back the excess cuttings from around some plantings as it was a bit too thick. We also cut the sprouting Golden Willow from the stump that is usually in the water but is now approachable because of the low water. On the east side we weeded especially bindweed which is twinning its way around everything it can reach along the southern perimeter. Also cut lots of blackberry which is sprouting up. It is too dry to get the roots but it helps to keep the canes from getting too long. When it rains we can get it out without too much trouble, I hope. The deer do not seem to have attacked the exclosure areas that we removed the fencing from. We think the turtles must have hatched as the ground inside the little fence is disturbed.

10 August: Mary, Audrey and Muriel worked with Sandy and Lindsey from Saanich. Audrey and Murial weeded for an hour, Mary mulched paths and pulled some grasses and blackberries that were encroaching on the paths (2 ½ hours). Sandy took down the first two exclosure fencing but will come back with a jack-all to get the posts out without breaking them. He took the fencing back to the yard to store it for us.  Lindsey brought two truckloads of water for the new plantings in the south east part of the area. The new planting are mostly doing well. She also gave the plants in the former upper exclosure a bit of water. We hope the deer do not ravage them.

3 August: BC Day so we took the day off.

July 2015

27 July: Mary and Audrey were there with Andrew Burger and Jenny Eastman and Robyn and Monika from Evergreen. We talked about what they could do in their work parties and what else needs doing. Andrew will send a couple of parks staff next week to help us. Audrey and Mary did 1 ½ hours.

20 July: Mary and Audrey for 1 hour weeding on east side. Very hot and dry.

13 July: Audrey away. Mary cut some thistle flowers, but the large patch has been scythed. I think some of the flower heads were gathered up. Cut a few blackberry on the west side, but it is too dry to get the roots. Andrea came and took some pictures. She is working two jobs so will not be around very much but will try to get pictures and keep the Facebook page active.

6 July: Audrey and Mary spent about an hour looking over the park and noting up coming areas for work parties.

1 -30 June, 2015

Vacation Time for most volunteers.  Audrey came to park most Mondays.   Extremely hot weather.

May 2015

May 25th:  Quick visit to Whitehead. Lots of work to do.

May 20th: The Stantec women did a great job. They cut and dug blackberry, dug Reed Canary , pulled staples from the cardboard and raked up blackberry bits and pieces. The work puts us within sight of planting in the fall

May 17th:  Holiday weekend so Mary went for about ½ hour to check things are ready for Stantec work party on Wednesday evening. Lots of cardboard and mulch and lots of work for them to do.

May 11th: Today the volunteers were joined by Don and Sandy from Saanich for an hour or so. Spent time admiring the plants and then pulling weeds in various spots that called us. Lori in the upper exclosure. Lots of little blackberry starts some from twigs and others from root crowns that were missed were pulled.

May 4th:  We spent our time weeding and admiring the new growth. Going in the path from Goward Road we pulled a little more cleaver but mostly marvelled at how things we planted and worried about are now really taking hold in their second year.

Oregon grape

Photo © by Val George (Photo ID #26385) Mahonia nervosa dull Oregon-grape, Cascade barberry

Oregon-grape (Mahonia) that looked very sad last year has put on lush new growth;

*Mahonia nervosa: dull Oregon-grape. **Evergreen, shrub w/ leaves like holly; flowers bright yellow; fruits, blue berries about 1 cm across. Found in dry to fairly moist open to closed forests at low to  middle elevations. Two types: Tall Oregon-grape [Mahonia aquifolium] is similar but with glossy leaves.  First Nations peoples ate the tart purple berries, but not in quantity; today they are used for jelly and occasionally wine. The shredded bark of the stems and roots was used to make a bright-yellow dye for basket materials.


Photo © by Rosemary Taylor Email the photographer (Photo ID #38437) Lonicera involucrata black twinberry, twinberry honeysuckle

Photo © by Rosemary Taylor 
(Photo ID #38437)
Lonicera involucrata
black twinberry, twinberry honeysuckle



and the honeysuckle (Lonicera) are really starting to ramble.


* Black Twinberry Honeysuckle [Lonicera involucrata]

** Erect to straggly; leaves are opposite, somewhat elliptical; flowers yellow tubular with 5 lobes; fruits shiny black ‘twin’ cupped by 2 pairs of deep-purplish-maroon bracts, not considered palatable.  Berries were given names like ‘raven’s food’ or ‘crow berry’ and ‘monster’s food’ by Northwest First Nations peoples.





We found two ducklings with no heads on our path, sad but natural. We think it was probably a mink because the rest of their little bodies were intact. We then moved on to pulling thistles and some blackberry in the area at the top nearest the neighbour’s place. The thistles were fairly easy to pull but there were a lot of them. The blackberry was mostly from bits of stem or roots that got left behind. Someone left us two roses that had been in their pots too long. I planted them in the top exclosure. We will see how they do.


March 2015


White fawn lily: May Kald (Photo ID #16662).

Monday, March 23 Fawn lilies* are starting, Audrey, Andrea and Mary were able to identify their mottled leaves. Keep an eye out for the flowers: white, often marked with orange-yellow at the base, with the tepals bent back; usually on a single terminal and nodding.  This perennial herb grows to 30 cm tall, in well-drained open, often grassy areas, open to fairly dense, rocky woodlands, at low elevations.  Erythronium comes from the Greek erythros for ‘red’ in reference to some pinkish-flowered species that was used in ancient times to make a dye.**

They also found a few Skunk cabbage leaves, so it is spreading.  We will post photos of Whitehead Park’s Fawn lilies and Skunk cabbage when they bloom. In the meantime, on our ‘Information’ page, there is an interesting article about Skunk cabbage and bears to check out.




Red-flowering currant: Virginia Skilton (Photo ID #2729)

Monday, March 2 – Audrey, Andrea and Mary were at the park.  Audrey worked on blackberry roots while Andrea and Mary worked at patching our cardboard/mulch cover where Reed Canary Grass* is poking through. It takes advantage of any crack and we fear some of the cardboard seems to have composted too quickly allowing patches of RC to come through. There are also spots where the tree top landed puncturing the cardboard. I am not sure if patching is possible. Many newly planted shrubs are leafing out and a Red Flowering Current* and a White one are showing their colours. We spent a bit of time checking the general state of the plantings and want to get some weeding done before things are overgrown. It always looks promising at this time of year – just before it becomes overwhelming.


Reed canary grass: Jamie Fenneman (Photo ID #6959)



Phalaris arundinacea: Robust perennial, 0.7 – 2 m. tall, with long, scaly, pinkish rhizomes, stems hollow; leaves: flat, 5 – 15 mm wide, roughened, sheaths open, margins overlapping; [found in] wet places in disturbed sites. * *

Reed canary grass is invasive.


February 2015


Common dead-nettle/ Virginia Skilton (Photo ID #13026)

Monday, Feb 23rd – Mary, Audrey and Marie Grant worked with Winona and Andrea; and lots of help from Don and Sandy. We did get lots of the Lamium* out on Saturday. Finished digging more out and got some blackberry roots out up there as well. Mulched there and planted the rest of the Doug fir trying to stay out from under the maples. Don also moved the Doug Fir out of the upper new exclosure so it would get more sun as well. Winona spread cardboard and mulched the area just to the south of that and planted some salmon berry. Audrey and Marie did roots near the bottom of the site and also dug some snowdrops and blue bells out. Then Audrey and I showed Marie over the park and discussed what comes next.


Lamium amplexicaule: Taprooted annual, 10 – 40 cm tall; Leaves: opposite, heart-shaped, upper leaves stalkless; Flowers: lavender-purple, 12 – 18 mm long, stalkless, sepals united in a hairy 5 lobed tube, well-spaced clusters in leaf axils; Fruits: 4 nutlets, 3-angled, squared off at tip; weedy introduction from Eurasia; these nettle-like plants are ‘dead’ in that they don’t sting when touched; Lamium is from the Greek laimos [‘throat’] because of the constricted throat of the petal tube. **






photo by Andrea Newman

“Wildlife Tree” by Andrea Neumann


Monday, Feb 16th – Winona and Mary stayed for an hour as we were off to CFAX to do a bit on FTCW. Andrea stayed a little longer. We spread some cardboard and mulch on the upper section in order to get in some of the Doug Fir that Saanich brought us. Andrea did the planting. We envision a bit of urban forest at the top of our site so are very happy to have more trees. We also have some cedar to plant lower down. An Evergreen work party on Saturday may get out the Lamium in the south east corner so we can plant a few more Doug Fir.




Andrea Neumann, Bachelor of Arts Co-op double-major in Environmental Studies and Anthropology at UVIC.



Monday, Feb 9th

Audrey, Andrea and Mary worked for 1 hour in the pouring rain. Joanne has brought some more cardboard so we spread some and put mulch on it. The Reed Canary Grass is responding to the longer days and poking up strong green shoots where ever it can find a crack in the cardboard.

We will keep working at it, but cannot help wondering if there is a better technique. The invasive Species Council is having a webinair on the subject. It will be interesting to see what they suggest.


 January 2015

The ephemeral stream bed was dug by hand and lined with river rock, by Sannich 2012.

People from both Saanich and FTCW have worked hard. More blackberry roots are cleared from the area and cardboard and mulch have been spread. Don has planted the hardhack and nine bark, as well as several little Doug Firs on the higher portion. Audrey marked out a nice curved path through to near the big fir and it is covered in chips. There is now an inviting circle route around the area we have been working on. It is all very exciting to see.

Monday, January 26th

Audrey, Winona, Andrea, Mary and Valerie Haig-Brown worked for 1 ½ hours, spreading cardboard that Joanne had brought extending the covered area southward under the chip path. We are trying to cover the reed canary grass and extend the cover about 2 feet beyond its border. Raked and picked up black berry pieces and pulled more roots.  Audrey took pictures of our baby urban forest.

Monday, January 19th

Audrey and Mary spent some time talking to park neighbour, who is very positive about what we have been doing. He gave us a few fir branches that have blown down so we can do a little complexing of our muddy ground. Pulled some black berry roots and generally picked up black berry pieces.


Urban Forest photos, by Audrey Barnes


Valerie and Mary Haig-Brown using long-handled mattocks, for digging Himalayan blackberry roots.


Great Douglas-fir, behind new planting of Douglas-fir.




One of the deer exclosures, protecting new planting: Douglas-fir, surrounded by last year’s plantings: Oregon-grape. The tree has been moved to get more sun.












Whitehead Park

Natural Area Map of Whitehead Park, 2010, before the dock and children’s play area were built.  Also of interest: the massive Himalayan blackberry patch on the west [left] side of Tod Creek; and the 61 Golden willow trees and 2 English Hawthorne.  To read the Whitehead Park Project document, go to the “Projects Home” page, then open ‘Whitehead Park’ and click on the link to download the entire paper.  The labels here are a bit unclear: starting at the 12:00 o’clock position, moving clockwise: Himalayan blackberry; Yellow flag iris; Hardhack & Red osier dogwood; large Hawthorne; Golden willow in creek mouth; proposed footbridge.








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