A Day in the Wildlife of Matson Conservation Area

by Alanah Nasadyk, Community & Development Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 250-995-2428

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You can walk the length of Victoria’s bustling harbour where the sea meets the land, but the only place you’ll find the once plentiful Garry Oak ecosystem there is at the Matson Conservation Area. Head down the Westsong Walkway from the direction of Westbay Marina, Esquimalt and you will find this precious protected place. This conservation covenanted land is bisected by a great elevated staircase, designed to provide passage but not trampling for people above and native species below. Overlooking the natural scene is Swallow’s Landing, a testament to how development and conservation don’t have to be at odds. Joggers, birdwatchers, photographers, and visitors from around the world often enjoy the Matson Lands.

On July 15th a team of 20 Habitat Acquisition Trust volunteers and staff met for the first ever Matson Pull & Pour. What’s that you say? Well, the “pull” portion refers to restoring the land by pulling and extracting invasive plant species. The “pour” half involved the team enjoying the hospitality of Spinnakers Brew Pub and their freshly poured beer.

       Thepull        ThePour          

      The Pull                         The Pour            

 That day a few of us met early to set up. It was warm and we took in the view of the glistening harbour from behind a frame of plump Oregon Grapes. It wasn’t long after that mother raccoon and her sweetly bumbling babies kindly skittered away as if to say, “we’ll keep our distance, thank you.”

The regular coming and goings of raccoons and river otters has left a gently flattened path through the dried grass. If you’d like to picnic in the presence of otters, Matson is the perfect place. A watchful picnicker can learn about their diet, and crab-cracking techniques. You may also be delighted by butterflies like the Lorquin’s Admiral, hummingbirds, and Great Blue Herons. It is part of a Migratory Bird Sanctuary, after all.

After the restoration team came together and received an introduction, we set about identifying and removing invasive grasses, as well as English Ivy. Much of the Scotch Broom at Matson has been removed thanks to repeat HAT work parties and the regular restoration work of a local team called the Matson Mattocks from the surrounding neighbourhood.

Two of the major troublesome grasses we focused on were Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata) and Rip-gut Brome (Bromus rigidus). While grass identification can be a challenge, Orchard Grass is recognisable by its robust tufts atop a tall stem (as high as 1.5 m). Rip-gut gets its visceral name from the way small barb-like hairs on its seeds can cause it to snag. A great strategy for seed dispersal, but a danger to animals that get bits of the plant hooked and imbedded in them. It must come as no surprise that one identifying feature of Rip-gut is its rough-to-the-touch seed heads. When it comes to removing weedy grasses effectively, it’s key to take out the entire above-ground clump called the root crown.

       orchardgrass small        bromusrigidus          

           Invasive Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata)               Dangerous for pets: Rip-gut Brome (Bromus rigidus)          

In the end, we removed just over 12 cubic meters of invasive plant material. That’s a pretty big deal when it comes to the detailed and finicky work of weeding out grasses.

Restoration outings are a great way to get to know the community and your neighbours, an ideal place for newcomers. At Matson we had a special opportunity to welcome a Syrian family, new to Canada and to the community. When it comes to tending the Earth and socializing, language barriers soften with careful demonstrations and conversation. As we consulted over patches of grass, Douaa told me,

“Victoria is beautiful. All of it is beautiful. The city, the trees, the forests, the sea.”

It is a pleasure to share and protect this beautiful region with each of you. That beauty is in part because of the selfless work of volunteers, of those who protect our land with covenants, and the benevolence of the community. If you know someone new to Victoria, perhaps they’re learning English too, we’d love to meet them. The wild and beautiful life of places like Matson are possible thanks to your donations.

If you would like to sponsor or give to keep projects like this going we welcome your support: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 250-995-2428. You can also send your support online at hat.bc.ca/donate or in the mail to PO Box 8552, Victoria BC V8W 3S2.

  butterfly lorquins admiral matson oak leaf        raccoon family matson          hiding heron matson AlanahN

      Lorquin's Admiral on Matson Garry Oak               The Matson Raccoon Family            Heron's can be good at hiding, but you can see them in the treetops 



Read more: A Day in the Wildlife of Matson Conservation Area

THANK YOU to the Seed Packers and our Supporters!!


The Native Plant Seed Packing Party was a GRAND SUCCESS!!


A BIG THANK YOU to the 18 people who came out to help put together 206 packets of seeds (including native lupine, Pacific Columbine, Great Camas, and Farewell-to-Spring seeds). This translates to OVER 1,000 new seedlings that we’re sending out into the world. Yahoo!!


  p1350946columbine        great camas          FL2038 3

      Pacific (Sitka) Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)               Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii)            Farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena)


These four flowering pant species are highly-adapted to our region;  local wildlife enjoy and rely on them, some are edible, and each is uniquely beautiful. What a great way to share our interest in native plants and to make our urban nature a more colourful place. Sharing the importance of and an appreciation for these local species helps make our community more resilient!


Last but not least, a few MORE THANK YOUS to our supporters: to Pat Johnston for his informative talk about native plants in our region; to Saanich Native Plants for donating the seeds; and to Hot House Pizza in Oak Bay for the great rate on tasty pizza. 


Keep checking our calendar website for upcoming events!


Read more: THANK YOU to the Seed Packers and our Supporters!!

A Seed Packing Pizza Party and Native Plant Talk with Pat Johnston

Tuesday, July 26th, 4:30 pm - 6:45 (Talk starts at 5:30 if you can only make it later)SeedParty

HAT Office: 825 Broughton St. Mezzanine Level

RSVP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or 250-995-2428 (please include dietary restrictions if any)

By donation


Pizza party, packing seeds, plants of the native variety, and Pat! Perfect combination?

Thanks to the generosity of Saanich Native Plants we have some lovely Great Camas (Camassia leichtlinii), Pacific Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), and Farewell-to-Spring (Clarkia amoena) seeds to spread the message of using native plant seeds in gardening. To better share these with our community we'd like to package them up nicely, and for that we could use your help. Those who lend a helping hand can help themselves to a pack or two to plant in their own neck of the woods.

Before we get to pizza, Native Plant Gardening Consultant Pat Johnston will be presenting a talk on the identification of native plant species. Pat has done fabulous work in our community to bring awareness to the use of locally natural plant species in our own backyards.

Pat Johnston is a self-taught Native Plant Gardening Consultant that learned her skills from being on the ground. Her story with local flora began after moving to a new place that had gorgeous Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) trees. The rare and unique ecosystem inspired Pat to cultivate a native plant demonstration garden.

Pat has been very involved in restoration throughout the community. Developing a passion for creating buffers of natural areas and corridors for the dispersal of native wildlife. Helping wildlife that may otherwise be trapped on an island of habitat in a sea of urban and exotic plants has been key to her work and motivation.

Satin flower Feb 2006 webThrough careful observation and taking part in plant salvaging, Pat has developed a great knowledge of Native Plants. She has been sharing that knowledge through consultation for over 15 years. Some of which she will share with HAT volunteers at the Seed Packing Night. However, learning from salvaging plants, or transplanting native flora from areas slated for development, has been a bittersweet experience.

"We would go in and see a gorgeous mossy knoll covered with Satin Flowers (Sisyrinchium douglasii). The next day, we would come back and there would be nothing left."

In a way plant salvaging can be likened to recycling: it's very important to mitigate our impact, but it's no alternative to not wasting the viable habitat in the first place. As recycling must be done in conjunction with producing less waste to be sustainable, so must plant salvage be done in conjunction with conserving and cultivating places of ecological value wherever possible.

We hope you'll join us for this informative talk, and bring any questions you may have about native plants and gardening with them for Pat. The seeds you plant may be the start of your very own native plant demonstration garden, along the journey to living and learning with nature.

If you can't make it to this event, we're sorry to miss you. You can however, still support programs like this by making a donation online, by phone (250-995-2428), or by cheque in the mail to PO Box 8552 Victoria BC V8W 3S2



Read more: A Seed Packing Pizza Party and Native Plant Talk with Pat Johnston

Matson Pull & Pour



small Matson Pull pour

Another event is just around the corner. Come socialize with fellow nature and beer enthusiasts; join HAT pull invasive plants at the Matson Conservation Area (click for map) on Friday July 15 (1-5PM) and then quench your thirst with a tastey beer at Spinnakers Brew Pub.

 If you can join us please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and indicate if you will also join for a beer. We hope to see you there!


Read more: Matson Pull & Pour

A successful Havenwood Restoration Day!

By HAT Restoration Team Volunteer, Emily Truman

Havenwood June 11 team photo


The HAT Team worked with the Greater Victoria Green Team and Friends of Havenwood Park to remove approximately 10 cubic metres of invasive, weedy plants, and build a trail! 

My first restoration event with HAT was at Havenwood Park - a place that I had never previously visited - and I was pleasantly surprised. Just a few feet from the road, a footpath opened up to a lush forest teeming with wildlife. Apart from the trees, it felt like there was movement in everything. As I walked through the forest to the restoration site, I began to see where urban development had touched the environment. Although previous restoration work had clearly allowed the landscape to gain back some of its natural life, I could see that the landscape had been agitated, and that the negative effects were still harming the plants and wildlife. 

While I took in the beauty that was being regained by the area, we set out to clear some invasive species, mulch the trees, and clear a pathway leading from the park trail into the restoration site. 

The progress we made will allow the native species to thrive - including the trees planted by the Royal Bay graduating class. The new trail will encourage visitors to the site to enjoy their surroundings without impacting surrounding wildlife. This project also allows community members involved to build a greater appreciation for restoration within our community. 

The following photos were taken right before we began our work, and again after we had finished. They really illustrate the power of a dedicated team with a cause!

June 11 before and After pictures BY AMANDA from GVGT

A lot of hard work has been done on the Havenwood land, and the progress is really starting to show! We had 30 helping hands, so it's no surprise that we got this much done in a matter of a few hours! Everyone was a good sport and helped to wrestle with the Himalayan Blackberry and Thistle. 

We all worked up quite an appetite with all that weed pulling and trail building - luckily we had goodies donated by Royal Bay Bakery to keep us going and push through to the end!

Once we finished this chapter of the restoration project, the volunteer team closed off with goodbyes and took home some generous donations through Greater Victoria Green Team sponsor LUSH to clean off with. 

It was so lovely to see so many smiling faces on hard workers, all brought together for a common cause. Joining HAT, I never thought I would become prt of such a motivational, friendly community! The sense of accomplishment as we finished off for the day, combined with the beautiful Havenwood scenery made me feel extremely grateful for everything that HAT, the GVGT, and FOHP do - and have been doing for a long time. 

But perhaps what was even more eye opening was the fact that I could envision how the area will flourish in a few years time. The trees will have grown, native species thriving, and the footpath beaten down by frequent visitors. The birds that I saw when I made my first trip out here will be even more numerous, making homes out of the bushes and trees that are allowed to extend over much of the land by restoration teams. 

A big thanks to everyone who came out to help, and to our generous sponsors for keeping us going!

If your business or one you know of would like to sponsor a restoration event like this or a local park, please contact Alanah Nasadyk at 250-995-2428 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
We can team up to promote the good work in our region, for nature!


Read more: A successful Havenwood Restoration Day!

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