Birds, butterflies and other wildlife are gaining new "playgrounds" in Midland and Penetanguishene this summer.
Five parks in Midland and Penetanguishene are getting "no mow" zones through the Great Lakes Local Action Fund grant project being completed through the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA).
"We are naturalizing 20,000 square metres of municipal land within the towns of Midland and Penetanguishene," said Emma Maurice, climate resilience and habitat intern with the SSEA.
Maurice and volunteers started putting plants in the ground in May and they are planning to have the project completed by the end of September. There are five sites — three in Midland and two in Penetanguishene.
The sites in Midland are at Little Lake Park, Ernest T. Bates Memorial Park and Edgehill Park. In Penetanguishene, planting is being done at J.T. Payette and Therrien parks.
This Friday, the public is invited to take part in the planting at Therrien Park. Anyone interested in participating should meet at the Penetanguishene Rotary Champlain Wendat Park amphitheatre at 5 p.m. Participants will take a nature walk and then do the planting at Therrien Park, which is along the Trans Canada Trail. The planting includes about 20 shrubs and 100 wildflowers.
The SSEA did spring planting at Therrien Park with students from École St. Joseph and community volunteers, but the project was vandalized and more than 50 plants were pulled up.
"We are replanting some of the shrubs that were pulled out, but we are also planting some of the native species there as well," Maurice said.
The idea is to plant species that are native to the area. Little Lake Park, close to the boat launch, has wild bergamot, and great blue lobelia planted.
"We try to pick ones that are suitable for each soil type and sun exposure," said Maurice.
Overall, there are about 40 species Maurice has to work with.
"All these native species have been around for years and years and years, so that helps our pollinators as well as naturalizing spots in the parks that were not being used for other reasons," she said.
More information about the SSEA can be found at severnsound.ca.