Outing to Grey-Sauble Conservation Authority Arboretum

On a sunny July 9th morning a small group of Saugeen Nature members assembled at the headquarters of the GSCA in Owen Sound, just downstream from Inglis Falls. There we met with Bill Moses, our guide for the outing. He began with a bit of history, showing us through the mature trees of the original part of the arboretum, now more than fifty years old. There are thriving examples of species normally found farther south, such as Kentucky coffee tree and sycamore. Also in evidence is the problem of the invasive nature of some exotic species: English oak, Norway maple, and little-leaf linden are showing up in thickets at the margins of the arboretum proper.

There is a much more recent part of the arboretum where Bill and other volunteers hope to establish examples of every woody plant species native to Grey and Bruce counties, some 170 in all. A walking trail through this new section has been established and the plan for species location is in place. Many of the natives have been planted but are still small; others have yet to make their appearance. Problems arise with diseases, such as the Dutch elm fungus, which make it difficult to keep some of the species alive — there are many dead elms very near to the newly established young elm we were shown. Management at the conservation authority has also, in response to a complaint from the public, told the volunteers that they may not establish poison ivy along the trail even though it is one of the native species which should be there. In spite of setbacks like these the volunteers are moving forward with their vision for the new arboretum.

A third part of the property has extensive seed beds where young native plants are produced. Part of the area is shaded and rain water is collected from the roof of the old barn on the property and stored for use on the seedlings. The seedlings are available to the public for cash donations.

This was a very interesting tour. The Saugeen Nature members were happy to have made the trip and to have met Bill Moses. It is a place, and Bill is a person, well worth knowing.

Submitted by Angus Inksetter

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