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Friday, June 24, 2005

  • Boulder plan for ES garden
  • Project near Physics starts Monday
  • From Columbia Lake to Cambridge
Chris Redmond

Fête nationale du Québec

[Front-end loader and building in the background]

Laura Pietsch and Larry Lamb in the new garden area

Boulder plan for ES garden -- by Barbara Elve

A scattering of moss-covered boulders on the south side of Environmental Studies II anchors a new "demonstration garden" -- one of several established to provide learning opportunities for students. Planting began this spring, and already, spindly specimens of trees and shrubs such as eastern white cedar, serviceberry, staghorn sumac, and purple flowering raspberry are taking root between the building's brick wall and a protective row of evergreens.

Designed to replicate the ecosystem of the Bruce Peninsula, the garden was developed by Laura Pietsch as a senior honours project for her environment and resource studies program. She graduated in June.

"I wanted to choose a region in Ontario that would work with the rest of the gardens surrounding ES2," says Pietsch, pointing to the well-established Robert Dorney Ecology Garden, which includes Carolinian woodland and tall grass prairie plants found in the Pelee Island area of southern Ontario. A 2004 Dorney garden extension runs along the north side of the building to the west, with flora indigenous to northern Ontario framed by granite boulders.

As well, Pietsch was inspired by a field trip she took to the Bruce as part of the Environmental Monitoring course taught by Greg Michalenko -- one of three courses in the faculty of environmental studies offering field study in that area of the province.

To determine which species to establish in the new garden, Pietsch identified plant community models by researching ecological studies of the Bruce. Larry Lamb, environmental studies lecturer and head of the ecology lab, "was a great resource for identifying what was native to the area."

In addition to being native to the Bruce Peninsula, the plants she selected "had to be somewhat aggressive" to suit the site conditions -- sun levels, drainage, soil type. "The limestone boulders were chosen because they are so pervasive in the Bruce," she says. "Limestone outcroppings cover the landscape. We chose large boulders to make an impact on the site." The long-term plan calls for the addition of "more trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses and herbaceous plants such as yellow lady's slipper. These plants were not included in the initial design because of their delicate nature; they will need to be transplanted to an established garden.

"Ideally, I would love to see the garden be used for leisure and nature appreciation," she says. "I hope it will attract as many visitors -- both human and animal -- as other successful naturalized gardens on campus."

The spring runs dry

Frank Seglenieks, coordinator of the UW weather station, reports on the season that's just ended:

"The temperature was about average in the early spring, while late April and May were cold, and the beginning of June was extremely hot. All this worked out make the temperature during the Spring of 2005 almost exactly the average we would expect for this time of year. The average high temperatures during were merely 0.1 degrees C above the long term average, while the average daily low temperatures were about 0.5 C above.

"However, the same can't be said for the precipitation. Although we had a few big storms during the Spring, they couldn't make up for the long droughts in between. In fact, over half the spring rainfall fell on only 4 days (April 2 with 12.2 mm, April 23 with 22.1 mm, April 24 with 10.6 mm, and June 14 with 29.6 mm). Overall, we had 148.4 mm of precipitation when we should be expecting 226.2 mm, definitely a dry spring."

Records from the north campus station show the maximum temperature for spring was 32.3 Celsius, and the minimum minus-11.1. Average daily high: 16.0. A temperature and precipitation graph is available online.

Lamb is pleased with the results so far. "Academically, it's a special little treasure," he said, noting that the newest demonstration garden enhances the reputation of the environmental studies faculty for "progressive and innovative approaches to landscape. . . . Trying to replicate a natural ecosystem can be even more difficult than creating a French formal garden or an English country garden. It's difficult to be convincing."

The challenge doesn't end when the shrubs are in the ground. Funding for the project was provided by Waterloo Environmental Studies Endowment Foundation and the ERS student association. But there are maintenance requirements, especially during the early years. The plants will have to be mowed, watered, pruned, and protected from rabbits, says Lamb, who admits other "pockets of regional biodiversity" on campus have failed from lack of care. He's hoping to find a way to get students involved.

As for Pietsch, the development of the Bruce Peninsula garden has given her new knowledge and skills -- and sown seeds for the future. She's working in an Owen Sound greenhouse this summer and hoping to pursue a career in naturalized landscaping.

Project near Physics starts Monday

Following approval by the UW board of governors earlier this month, a construction crew will arrive Monday to start work on the "Sharcnet building" that will link Engineering II with the Physics building. (I've previously said Engineering III, but that wing is officially part of E2.) The link will house equipment for the Sharcnet computing research project, as well as offices and computing facilities for the science and engineering faculties.

Don Haffner of plant operations says the access road from the CEIT building towards Coutts Hall will be closed off to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic until construction is completed, early next spring. The entrance to the E2 loading dock will remain open.

The E2 door that faces Physics and Coutts Hall will remain in use, but the exit from Physics facing E2 will be blocked off. "Fire exits are being temporarily rearranged."

He asks people to be patient if roadways are blocked by trucks for a while, and adds that the contractor "will be quiet during examinations as per UW policy."

Haffner also notes that the library wing of the Davis Centre is being re-roofed, a job that's expected to last about two weeks. "The fresh air intakes have been turned off," he writes, "to minimize odours seeping into the building. The west side of the building will have recirculated air and air conditioning. As with any re-roofing job, there will be some odour involved. The material used is safe and approved by our Health and Safety Department. We have had many leaks in this building and it must be corrected."

Perimeter Institute presents Rob Myers, Perimeter researcher and UW physics faculty member, "The Superstring Adventure", 7 p.m., Rozanski Hall, University of Guelph, reservations 824-4120 ext. 53965.

Warrior Weekend events in the Student Life Centre: tonight salsa lessons, café, Italian movies, beach volleyball; Saturday evening "International Amazing Race", origami, movies, ice cream; more information online.

Contemporary School of Dance recital Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, Humanities Theatre.

Digital Moose Day in Silicon Valley, sponsored by Canadian high-tech firms; UW alumni affairs is a participant; Sunday 1:30 to 5:00, Huddart County Park, Woodside, California; details online.

Midnight Sun VIII solar car unveiling Tuesday 5:30 near the Graduate House.

From Columbia Lake to Cambridge

With a week to go till Canada Day, and the weather looking more than summery, another headliner has been added to the attractions at UW's north campus Canada Day celebrations. Storyteller Robert Munsch, the idol of the preschool set, will read and meet kids at about 5 p.m. Canada Day activities start at 2 p.m. on the holiday (Friday, July 1) and include an arts and crafts fair, children's games and "an amazing band lineup", according to Dana Evans of the communications and public affairs office, a key organizer for the day.

A senior UW official said yesterday that there's a possibility of having UW-operated, though not UW-owned, student residences in both Cambridge (where the school of architecture opened its new home last fall) and Kitchener (where a school of pharmacy and health sciences campus are planned). Bud Walker, director of university business operations, said he intends to call a meeting this fall to "see if there's anybody interested in partnering with us" among local development companies. "We'd like to have a situation where they build the building and we fill it with students and run a residence life program," he said. Walker was invited to speak briefly last night at a conference in Kitchener addressing issues of downtown renewal, a program in which architecture and pharmacy both play a key part. Architecture professor Val Rynnimeri also spoke at the conference yesterday.

Oh no: I wrote the other day at Bruce Lumsden, director of co-op education and career services, was retiring after "31 years" at UW; in fact, as I said earlier this spring, he came in 1964, which makes it 41 years. Also: some readers will have a seen a version of Tuesday's Daily Bulletin in which I misspelled the name of Mieke Delfgaauw-Kesik of the faculty of environmental studies. And: Wednesday's Daily Bulletin listed a job in the ES faculty ("undergraduate advisor, environment and business") as a USG 6, when in fact it's a USG 5.

What do you know about "clickers"? "Many instructors are asking about this technology right now," writes Peter Goldsworthy of the LT3 technology centre, " and there are clear pros and cons. Think of it like little remote controls that give professors instant polling from the audience, or instant multiple choice answers. Instructors are very, very excited about what the vendors are saying." A workshop on Tuesday will give some expert information on the technology more formally known as Group Response Systems, he promises: "Three professors from UW's school of accountancy studied the effect of GRS on student learning and satisfaction in accounting education. Come and hear Carla Carnaghan, Alan Webb and Tony Atkinson speak about their research findings, their experiences using GRS, and watch them demonstrate the technology." The session starts at 11:00 on Tuesday in Davis Centre room 1304, and RSVPs go to Goldsworthy, e-mail peter@lt3.

A group of students from Britain's Oxford Brookes University is staying in Ron Eydt Village for the next three weeks, as part of an exchange program with UW's school of planning. . . . Sign-up is under way for the campus recreation "Shot in the Dark" tournament on July 12, a chance to play 18 holes of glow-in-the-dark golf. . . . The current phone campaign from the development and alumni affairs call centre is directed at alumni from anniversary years, 1965, 1970, 1975 and so on up to 2000. . . .

"So-and-so's job can get difficult," wrote an admirer who nominated her for one of UW's staff recognition awards last year. "She deals with these situations with grace and empathy . . . she is always pleased to see you and has kind words for everyone . . . makes UW a better place to work by treating everyone as if they were the most important person at the university." If you know a staff member like that, you have just a few more days to make a nomination for the 2005 awards, as the deadline is June 30. Nominations are welcome from staff colleagues, students, faculty, and members of the community -- and need to include supportive information, such as examples of situations in which the staff star was seen to shine.

Hundreds of desks in UW residence rooms are being replaced, and the old ones are for sale at $5 apiece. "These desks are great for a workbench in the garage or basement," writes Connie Reading, assistant manager of Village I. "We also have people sanding them and staining them to bring them back to the original wood, which I am told is oak. These desks are about 30 to 40 years old and are in great shape. The buyer would be getting a piece of UW history." Anybody interested can reach Reading at ext. 6562.

Jane Wei is vice-president of the UWDEX Business Club, and sends word of something called the Summer Summit Student Leadership Program, which will run on campus July 3-5. It's organized and sponsored by Ontario DECA, a group that designs leadership programs for students interested in business, marketing, management and entrepreneurship. "The program," Wei writes, "invites approximately a hundred high school students from all over Ontario to experience UW campus life as well as innovative workshops that help students improve skills necessary for business, an outdoor exploration day that develops team spirit and leadership, some DECA competition sessions, and entertainment. Students will also get to know more about our school and its academic programs. It is a very meaningful and beneficial event for both the community and the school." There's more information on the web sites, or phone (905) 628-6339 ext. 310.

Work reports on winter term co-op jobs, those marked by coordinators in co-op education and career services, are available for pickup today in the Tatham Centre. . . . Doug Letson, former president of St. Jerome's University and an English professor there, is the new chair of the board of St. Mary's Hospital. . . . A group from the UW Recreation Committee will be out canoeing the Grand River tomorrow (hope they remember the sunscreen). . . .


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