|fwg is a long-term project of the ottawa field-naturalists' club|
TUCKED AWAY ALONG THE FENCE around the baseball diamond is a habitat feature that many of you may not have noticed the FWG hedgerow. Established in 1993 with generous funding from Consumers Gas (now Enbridge), the hedgerow is a wildlife-friendly band of dense vegetation several hundred feet long.
Properly planted hedgerows create a mini-habitat, providing food, shelter and nest sites for many species. They also serve as a wildlife corridor connecting one patch of habitat to another, offering safe passage to mammals and birds.
A well-planted hedgerow should be at least 15 feet wide, thickly planted, and as long as the property allows. In Britain, cultivators are told to plant four shrubs per yard, using plants 18 to 24 inches tall. For a quicker-growing, more substantial hedgerow, double up the shrubs.
Although this may go against all conventional rules for planting hedges, it is said to produce a wonderfully dense, tangled growth — just what we are aiming for. It also allows for the die-back of some shrubs without creating a large gap. However, we'll be planting more modestly as this is a very expensive and time-consuming method.
The FWG hedgerow contains common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, see photo), flowering raspberry (Rubus odoratus,), wild raspberry (Rubus sp.), red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), and serviceberry (Amelanchier sp.) all berry-producing shrubs favoured by wildlife. We've also added pin cherry (Prunus virginiana) and hawthorn (Crataegus sp.). Small trees grow at intervals.
Now that the hedgerow is becoming established, we'll add climbing plants such as native clematis (Clematis virginiana) to scramble over the shrubs, and encourage wildflowers and grasses to form a herbaceous layer along the edge.
As this work is completed, watch for rabbits, squirrels, mice, voles, many species of birds, and who knows what other wildlife attracted to this mini-habitat by a profusion of food and the availability of safe nesting and roosting sites.