Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

A mountain meadow in an urban setting

Across from the Montreal General Hospital on Cedar Avenue, Mont Royal park begins. And it starts with stairs to a meadow.

Right away you see Queen Anne’s Lace and chicory blooming.

You also see purple bells, but I don’t know their name.

I stopped to listen to and record a tiny bird up in the dead tree, with a sweet three-part song. 

It turned out to be an Indigo Bunting. This makes me really happy because on my fantastic Point Pelee Big Day, when I saw 55 (or more?) species before 1:30, I did not see an Indigo Bunting. Nor for the rest of the trip, either.



milkweed flowers

Good news for Monarch butterflies: the milkweed is in bloom and it has a light scent. I am happy to see it, as now I know where to come and get more seeds to plant this fall. I planted some this year, but they were a couple of years old and have not come up.

I proceeded to Beaver Lake, where I heard a mama wood duck is raising her 7 ducklings. This kind of duck is famously shy so that she chose a man-made lake is a little lucky for us and a little odd for her. But they have had some difficulty, in that the lake has no shore – and some pretty clueless people harassing them.

Les Amis de la Montagne is looking after them, providing little resting and feeding platforms, which these two juvenile mallard ducks are taking advantage of.

They provided this floating platform that the mamas and babies sleep on at night – and these two mallards are taking a break.

On my walk back through the woods, I came across an escargot. I moved it across the path so that no one unwitting might step on it. A few years ago, I found an ad for a garage sale where a giant African land snail and its tank were up for grabs. I could not let this just go to chance; I went over and got it. The snail’s name was Fluffy Margaret, and it went to my wildlife technician educator friend, who loved the snail dearly. As did her students. They were despondent when she died in 2011.

Today, I found a butternut on the path. Butternut trees are endangered in Canada, and I’m going to write a blog post about it. Because the Ontario farmer/developer mentality of “hey, let’s just cut ’em down and plant them where we want them” is just … wrong. (Sure, plant 20 to replace one – you’ve “done” your job. But if they don’t grow, you don’t care.) Nonetheless, I’m happy to see that there’s one in Park Mont-Royal. Now I’m going to have to learn how to identify the tree and find it (or them). Strange that I can identify the nut, but not the tree.

Red clover, and morning glory. This vine is also called bindweed, because it’s really strong – so strong, it can break the disks on a tiller, a piece of farm equipment that gets pulled behind a tractor to turn the soil.

This flower I haven’t seen before. It’s a legume – a member of the pea family. The leaves and vine are bigger than the ubiquitous cow vetch.

The pea, the milkweed, and another spiky flower coming into bloom soon.

I am so glad this meadow is there. Forest cover is essential for birds and wildlife, but so are wild open spaces, and in that case, though snags (dead trees) should be left standing, small (very small) clear cuts can be beneficial to an ecosystem, and that’s the only way I can think of this meadow being there. Gaps, of course, occur naturally, through fire, flood, and blowdowns (windy storms). And at the perimeter of this clearing, you can see the first of the succession species, sumacs, coming back in.

Did you comment on, share, or like this post? If yes, take the next step and…

> Sign up here!

With added goodies the blog doesn't have, and you'll never miss a blog post again. It'll come out once a month, occasionally more.

You'll be sent an email that you need to confirm to get on the waitlist. The newsletter begins when there are enough subscribers.


  1. Claude Drolet

    Me and my team are doing the follow-up of the Butternuts in the Park. There is almost 200 of those trees, a small part of them are sick and should die in a few years. That's sad.

    For the clearing, it's the ancient location of the Children's Hospital. There is almost no soil that's why it remain open and also the city is doing a yearly cut to keep it open too.

  2. Jane Sorensen

    Thank you, Claude, for stopping by! I surmise you are from Les Amis de la Montagne. Good work with the ducks! I would be interested in going on a walk to see the butternut trees, and I also find the return-to-nature of a developed site fascinating. I'd like to learn more about it, and how it can best be encouraged by naturalists and parks workers.

    I also heard and saw the Indigo Bunting again today, high in a dead tree by the General parking lot. This area is totally its habitat.

  3. Jane

    The mountain meadow once was home to this beautiful building.

    I am glad to have the meadow; it would have been nice though if the building had been relocated. It was stately, though likely doomed to prove inadequate for a growing population.

    I hope that the remaining hospital buildings on the mountain that are due to be vacated get consolidated down to what is most historic, and nature replaces their former sprawling footprint.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rewilding is about converting your lawn to groundcover (bit by bit!) to native species. This fosters biodiversity. It also creates habitat for urban wildlife. Finally, you'll only trim it 2-3 times per season rather than every 7-10 days!

The green driveway gallery shows you how you can DIY a driveway conversation using my first model as an example. There are other ways to do it, and things I learned in the process and afterward. Please call me at 514-815-5163 for my landscaping service, or to discuss upgrading your driveway.

The work season is April 1st through June 30th, but I install bird strike prevention (to stop birds from crashing into windows and glass balconies) whenever the temperature is above 5ºC. Call the number above or email. It's important to do this earlier rather than later,  in time for bird migrations in late April to end of May, and late August to mid-October.

Sign up to the monthly newsletter. It'll have even more goodies than the blog (DIY, Q&A, and more!). Bonus: milkweed seeds. This perennial plant will attract bees and butterflies to your yard. 

%d bloggers like this: