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Lions Park Reflections: Invasive Species Walk

Over the last four months, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the invasive species plants of Lions Park ebb and flow, grow and diminish, be cut back only to grow back stronger. Witnessing this has informed the walks I lead, as have formally learning about the plants. During my walks, we look at the common invasive species plants growing in the park, and throughout the Lower Mainland, including: English Ivy, Himalayan Blackberry, Bindweed, English Holly, Yellow Archangel, Himalayan Balsam, and Non-Native Mountain Ash.

I invite you to look into these plants, and get to know them on your walks. I wanted to include an excerpt of my walks, so you can let them inform your own research.

The purpose of this walk is to introduce you to some of the invasive species growing here in Lions Park. You'll recognize a lot of these plants throughout the lower mainland because opportunistic plants follow in the footprints of humans, thriving in disturbed soils that other plants cannot. Invasive Species can pose a threat to eco systems if left unchecked, however, there are ways we can work with them to ensure they still do what they are here to do. They are here for a reason- nature is smart. Some plants help nourish the soil, and once the soil is nourished it is no longer optimal for them to thrive in and they naturally go away, others we are still learning about what, if any, benefits they pose.

What does this have to do with art?

Learning the names of the plants helps you with getting to know them more! I find the more I learn about the plants I encounter on my walks, the more animated and engaging my walks become, helping me get present and live in the moment.

This helps in the inspiration process for me, as I get to know the plants and their energies, this informs the art I will make! From drawings to sculptures and all things in between. When we remove them, a way to honour them is to create with them. Be it through creating with the plant material itself, or using it as inspiration.

Another value of learning about the invasive species that grow around you from an arts perspective is that these are plants that often get removed in organized removals- which means that if you are creating with a certain plant, you have an easier time getting large amounts of this material with less effort! These are commonly called invasive species pulls. You can get involved in them, and ask the organizer what they are doing with the pulled plants after- and if you can take some, similar to what I have been focusing on in my work with English Ivy.

Something fun I have learned through witnessing is the way that these invasive plants like to hang out together- either they are competing, or they are creating sculptures together. Here are some of my favourite photos from these walks:

After our walks around Lions Park, we would have an open studio art session, where I shared colouring pages inspired by the invasive plants growing in the park, and offered art supplies for participants to create with.

I am open to continuing to offer these educational and fun walks and am open to collaborating. For inquiries, please contact me here.

Learn more about me here.

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