About Us

ReLeaf Stratford is a project of Stratford and Area Master Gardeners which promotes planting native plants to support local biodiversity

Tree cover in the Stratford area is 2.6%, well below the 26% recommended in environmental studies. Our project promotes the planting of native plants. Native trees and plants are important to support our declining wildlife and disappearing insect species.

Upcoming Project

Help Us Reach Our Goal: Plant 2022 Native Trees in the Year 2022

Native Trees Planted
Stratford and Area Master Gardeners and ReLeaf Stratford received a grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation allowing us to plant 400 native trees in the TJ Dolan Natural Area, Stratford. We collaborated with the Upper Thames Conservation Authority and the City of Stratford Parks Department, both of whom provided advice and support on this project.
On May 17th at 9AM, people from various community organizations helped to plant 300 trees in the upper area of the TJ Dolan Natural Area. Karen Pugh of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority provided instructions and planting advice. The 300 trees were planted in just a couple of hours thanks to volunteers from Garden Stratford, Climate Momentum, Stratford Kiwanis, Perth County Tree Trust, Stratford CFUW, Stratford Public Library, Perth County Sustainability Hub and many volunteers from the public who recognized how the planting of native trees helps the environment.  Tree species planted that day were shagbark hickory, Chinquapin oak, hackberry, serviceberry, pagoda dogwood and silky dogwood.  
Another 100 native trees were planted the following day, May 18th.  These trees were planted either side of the main trail into the park off John Street. Volunteers once again stepped up, including members of the Stratford Field Naturalists, Bank of Montreal employees, and students from Stratford District Secondary School. Once again, the planting was wrapped up in short order. The species of native trees volunteers planted along the trail were hemlock and sugar maple. 
Creating Nature Inspired Gardens Speaker Series

The Stratford and Area Master Gardeners speaker series on native gardening was a resounding success.  The series ran from February to May 2022 and was an educational outreach designed to encourage the public to consider native plantings in their gardens. 

We were delighted to partner with Stratford Public Library and bring highly respected speakers to a wide audience via Zoom. Our goal was to attract 75-100 registrants for each talk. Recordings of the talks were posted for two weeks afterwards on the Stratford Public Library YouTube channel.  Speakers featured in the series were Stefan Weber of Carolinian Canada, Sean James speaking on how to design gardens with native plants, Cathy Kavassalis speaking on small native trees for small spaces and Victoria MacPhail who spoke on plants for pollinator gardens.

The registration, attendance, and viewing of the videos on the Stratford Public Library YouTube channel far exceeded our expectations, as well as those of the library. We are delighted by the interest in native plants shown by gardeners across the province. Over 692 participants viewed the video of Cathy Kavassalis’ talk afterwards and every speaker had a listening audience well in excess of 100 participants. 

ReLeaf Stratford is grateful for the support of the Stratford Public Library in helping us bring education about native plants into the living rooms of so many people. We are looking forward to participating in a collaboration with Stratford Public Library in the future.   

Donate to ReLeaf Stratford

If you would like to donate to this worthwhile project, the button links to Canada Helps, Master Gardeners of Ontario.  In the box “send a message to this charity” indicate that your donation is intended for the ReLeaf Stratford project.

Blue Beech Nutlet & Leaves

Native trees and plants help support an entire ecosystem. It begins with native plants which our native insects and pollinators have evolved to use as a food source. In turn, our birds and mammals eat the insects creating an intricate ecosystem built on native plants.

Non-native plants do not support our native insects to the same extent, resulting in a food desert for Ontario’s caterpillars, birds and mammals. Native insects have no evolutionary history with non-native plants and therefore, don’t have the ability to overcome the toxins those plants produce to deter predation. As an example, native oak trees support over 500 species of butterflies and moths, whereas the imported gingko supports a mere five Lepidoptera species.

Resources and Articles

Wondering which plants are Ontario natives? Check out our lists and helpful links.

Native plants are not always easy to find. To get you started, here are a couple of lists of Ontario native plant nurseries. 

Our graphic illustrates the proper way to plant a tree to ensure it will be long-lived and healthy.

Learn how to identify trees in winter using buds, twigs and bark. This is a fun activity when walking in the woods.

Invasive plants threaten our native woodlands. Learn to identify and avoid this threat to biodiversity.

Check out our list of favourite books and articles on the ecological benefits of native plants.

Some plants are more important than others in supporting ecosystems. 

See our list of native plants that provide the best food for pollinators in the caterpillar stage.