Stewart Gill of Schneider Electric plants a Garry oak seedling into a reclaimed portion of Anderson Hill Park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Stewart Gill of Schneider Electric plants a Garry oak seedling into a reclaimed portion of Anderson Hill Park. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Volunteers plant $3,200 worth of native plants in Oak Bay park

Monterey students lead ongoing reclamation of Anderson Hill

More than two dozen volunteers gathered to put $3,200 worth of native plants were put into the reclaimed Earn Street entrance of Anderson Hill Park.

Visitors to the pathway won’t recognize it now that multiple truckloads of laurel, ivy, gorse and blackberry – high enough to block the sight of neighbouring houses – have been removed.

“It’s really been transformed,” said Christina Johnson-Dean, a retired Monterey middle school teacher who has lead the Anderson Hill Park reclamation since the 1990s. “Once a hugely overgrown patch blocking light to native plants, into a real variety of native plants.”

READ ALSO: Old newspapers used in fight against invasive plants

On Thursday, a volunteer crew that included 16 employees from Schneider Electric Victoria planted Garry oaks, camas, shooting star, red flowering currant, trillium, columbine, hare grass, yarrow and dogwood.

Monterey middle school students Emily Sharlow-Tucker (Grade 7) and Lilian Goulstone (Grade 6) removing ivy from the Centennial Trail entrance to Anderson Hill Park (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Johnson-Dean has worked on Anderson Hill with dozens of volunteers in partnership with Oak Bay arborist Chris Paul and parks and services manager Chris Hyde-Lay.

Schneider Electric not only volunteered the labour but had already made donations to Tree Canada, which purchased the native plants and trees. It’s part of Schneider’s commitment to offsetting the rising CO2 count in the atmosphere.

“Planting trees is just one of the many ways Schneider Electric contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Lynn Brown of Schneider Electric Victoria. “Many of us haven’t seen each other since March, so working together on such a meaningful project has been extra special.”

READ MORE: Add yard waste to the trash being dumped at Oak Bay’s Anderson Hill Park

Monterey students have been a major contributor to the reclamation of Anderson Hill Park. Teacher Josh Elsdon’s class was there on Thursday, clipping away and dragging out invasive plants about 50 metres up the trail from where the Schneider crew worked.

“For a while, the [Earn Street entrance] was our collection area for invasive plants,” Elsdon said. “At one point, it was up to two metres tall and 20 metres long. Piled with blackberry, ivy, gorse, daphne (laurel) that were all choking the Garry oak ecosystem here.

“Every year, it’s amazing that once we take these invasives out, the camas and other native plants come back,” Elsdon said. “They are there, lying in wait. Kids have worked in pouring rain to chop this stuff out of it.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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