The naturalized area has been set aside for over 50 years. The purpose was to have a place where birds and animals are left undisturbed by lawn mowers and dog walkers. The unmown area creates a plant structure that is more conductive to bird life: a place where the birds can nest without being seen or disturbed. But those who walk there should know that only 10% of the area is native vegetation. Though we would like to convert this area to the plants of the moist mixed grassland eco-zone, it is a costly endeavour, especially when we would prefer using non-chemical means such as goat grazing and fire. We invite you to take a self-guided tour using the attached pdf pamphlet. Please note that there is only one open entrance/exit to the site on the east side of the fence close to the water’s edge. The west entrance is only open during the festival.
The area is dominated by crested wheatgrass, brome grass and caragana shrubs. There are some lilacs and honeysuckles as well. The irises, asparagus, delphinium and horseradish are leftovers from when the area was a market garden. They are not native plants and we hope to replace them with prairie forbs at some point in the future. White spruce, though native to Saskatchewan, would not be found on the prairies.
In recent years, plants on the noxious weed list have begun to invade. This includes the purple loosestrife (lythrum) along the water’s edge and Canada thistle (which is not Canadian and no one knows how it got this unfortunate name). Sweet clover and scentless chamomile on the uplands is also found throughout the sanctuary. We have become very concerned with the increase of absinthe “Artemisia absinthium”. This weedy sage, which originated in Europe, grows 1m (3’) tall and sets numerous seeds. It has the ability to grow in very dry areas on top of Wascana Hill, but is also found in moist areas amongst the cattails.
Along the shore line we can see native cattails and sedges including the tall reed grasses or phragmites by the dock. If you walk in the areas closer to the water you might find burs sticking to your pants. This is wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota). If you feel a stinging in your hands, you may have accidently touched stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). We have found small remnants of western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii (syn. Agropyron smithii)) and northern wheatgrass (Agropyron dasystachyum). Amongst the native and non-native grasses you will find the following forbs: yarrow (Achillea millifolium), cone flower (Ratibida columnifera), gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata), prairie sage (Artemisia ludoviciana), showy goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis) or Canada goldenrod (Solidago Canadensis) and smooth aster (Symphyotrichum leave (syn. Aster laevis)). Shrubs include common junipers (juniperus communis), native roses (Rosa arkansana), large patches of snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis) and some chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). Native trees include green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and Manitoba maple (Acer negundo). What plants should we find in Wascana Centre? if you look under "About Wascana Marsh" you will find a list under Flora of the Marsh. One day we hope to reintroduce some of the missing native plants to Wascana Centre.
Revegetation is an expensive undertaking, especially if we attempt to convert the site without the use of chemicals and without disturbing the birds and other wildlife. We think it may cost around $50,000 for this project to begin on a portion of the site.
To see excellent photos of native plants of Regina and region see www.natureregina.ca/native-plant-garden/native-plants with links to Glen Lee's photos at www.saskwildflower.ca/native-plant-photos.html