Sunday, 8 June 2014

Bow Park

Parking on street
Wheelchair accessible trails in Bow Park area, steeper gravel trails towards Mackenzie Avenue
Dogs permitted: on leash

You might have driven down Mackenzie Avenue around Braefoot Park and idly wondered about that pedestrian overpass - wondering why anyone would put an overhead walkway to seemingly nowhere.

But the fact is, that overpass does lead somewhere! Right off the overpass, you find yourself on Ferndale Trail, heading up the hill towards to Bow Park, a superb example of how the hard work of volunteers working with the municipality can help preserve and restore natural ecosystems in suburban Victoria in a very short space of time!

Bow Park is also accessible off of Cedar Hill Road via Hopesmore Drive, and with Brodick Park is a habitat reclamation area smack-dab in the middle of a residential area that has rise up around it over the years. Its somewhat unique in that its Garry Oak groves sit in the midst of a boggier area, rather than the rocky, camass-covered outcroppings we typically see. There is small pond right in the middle of Bow Park (complete with ducks and frogs!), surrounded by Cottonwood, and the the understory of this Park is largely chokecherry, salmonberry and some Rosa Nutkana.

Park Highlights:

The stroll around the pond itself is a lovely walk, with benches placed strategically at a couple of spots.  If you go in late spring/early summer, you might be able to spy a nesting duck, or ducklings sunning themselves by the edge of the pond.  A number of residences back right onto the park by the pond, and then the trails make their way deeper into the forest, which is teeming with birds.


Brodick and Bow Parks were first established around the time of the first round of subdivisions in the area.  One end of Bow Park opens up onto Brodick which is an open field area, with a small playground with an "old school" slide and swings.

More recently though, with its commitment to connected greenspaces, Saanich began more intensive work on the parks in this area, including Bow Park.
"In the spring of 2011 Saanich Parks began a project to reduce the grade of a connector trail that travels through Feltham Park and Bow Park to connect Mckenzie Avenue with Cedar Hill Road. Throughout the summer and early fall, Saanich Park staff along with Pulling Together volunteers, removed invasive species such as Himalayan Blackberry and English Ivy within a stand of Garry Oak, Bitter Cherry, Indian Plum, and Black Hawthorn trees. On Tree Appreciation Day Saanich staff and more than 50 community volunteers planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs along the portion of the trail from Livingstone Avenue to Bow Road. This area will be an ongoing restoration area and support from the community for maintenance is required." Our Backyard, a Newsletter on the Natural Environment in Saanich, Vol 11 Issue 4, 2011, pg 5

You can see signs throughout the park highlighting the areas where trees have been planted, and can see evidence of the invasive species removal crews at work.  It is amazing to see the effects that just 3 years of focussed work has had to move this area to a more naturally balanced mix of flora.  In the lower parts of the trail that connect to Mackenzie Avenue, you can see the return of horsetail, skunk cabbage and wetlands species in the understory of the cottonwoods and alder, and in the upper areas closer to the pond, the chokecherries and salmonberries are thriving.

Final note: If you take the time to stroll through the park on a warm evening, make sure you come armed with mosquito repellent!

Saanich Parks info on Bow Park
Our Backyard, A Newsletter on the Natural Environment in Saanich, Volume 11, Issue 4

All images © 2014 Janice Mansfield