By Karen Heisz

Hello and Happy New Year! As I write this,, snowbanks are still in place and cold winter winds are making a walk with the dog miserable. But our sleeping plants are well protected, and gardeners are planning the growing season ahead with seed catalogues and garden design magazines in hand.

Last year, a small group of gardeners focused on adding more butterflies to this neighbourhood  by planting hundreds of native plants on their properties. With our 24 native plant gardens in Centennial and West Rouge we were declared an OFFICIAL Butterflyway by the David Suzuki Foundation, and we believe we have only just begun!

This summer we will continue nurturing the native plant gardens at Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate. The Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care has also expressed an interest in having native plants added to their gardens to provide more interest for their residents and more natural habitat for butterflies, bees and birds.

We would also like to double the number of private native plant gardens, and we invite you to join us. Whether you would like to create a new garden in your yard or simply add a few native plants to fill in a current garden bed, we welcome your interest. Optional webinars, garden tours and plant sales provide opportunities to learn more about the plants and the important role they play in our ecosystems.

Some of our members have a great deal of experience with native plants and others are just beginning. But we are all driven by the desire to help the animals and insects whose lives depend on these plants.

If you would like to join the Rouge Butterflyway and add colourful and nature-attracting native plants to your property, please send an email to We will also welcome anyone willing to spend a few hours helping with the planting and maintenance of the gardens at Mowat and the Stacey Centre.

Thank you for your interest in helping to make our neighbourhood even more beautiful and natural!