The Parks, Recreation and Culture Department with the Town of Bridgewater is responsible for Woodland Gardens Park. Please call 543-2274 for requests about use of the Gardens.
The parkland known as Bridgewater Woodland Gardens was donated to the Town of Bridgewater in 1921 by H. W. Owen with the intent the area be used as a recreational park. The major habitats in the park are cultivated woodlands (trails and pathways), uncultivated woodlands, aquatic (pond) and parkland.The diversity of this habitat makes it ideal for a wide variety of animal life! And a great place to gather for picnics, games and of course, dog walking!
The pond, with a perimeter of approx. 0.8 km, comprises a large section of the natural habitat in the Woodland Gardens. The majority of the organisms in the park inhabit the pond or the surrounding area, and are dependent on the pond for their existence.
Several streams flow into the west end of the pond and a man-made pipe at the east end carries the run-off to the LaHave River. The water levels of the pond change often as a result of rainstorms. This creates a great inconvenience for the animals who inhabit the edge of the pond, such as rats and muskrats, who are forced to find alternative lodgings after the rain floods their usual holes. Many surfaces are submerged by these higher water levels including the rocks and muddy areas where the painted turtles like to sun themselves.
Lily pads grow throughout the shallow areas in the pond, and fragrant white water lilies and lily pads are abundant along the perimeter of the pond, while pond weeds are popular near the centre. The Parkdale Stream enters the pond at the west end and a marsh located here extends about one sixth the size of the entire pond. In the north-west corner of the pond is a man-made island dubbed Duck Island. The intent was for the island to be a refuge for the frogs and turtles. Another man-made addition is Spruce Falls. Located in the south-west area, this wooden waterfall was constructed in an effort to control the flow of water and reduce the erosion of the west bank.
Cultivated and uncultivated woodlands, aquatic habitats and an area of swampy parkland in the park allow the existence and survival of a wide range of species. Lower plant life includes algae, fungi, lichens and mosses, some of which only appear at certain times of the year. For example, Puffballs are common throughout the month of June, and several varieties of mushrooms appear at the end of July.
The plants in the Woodland Gardens range from tall trees to the tiniest of flowers, like the twinflower. The most common plants are the bunchberries, wild lily-of-the-valley, wintergreen, partridge berries and blueberries. On the open lawns of the park are hawkweeds, dandelions, cloves and bedstraws. Along the edges of the lawns are Forget-Me-Nots, Deptford Pink and Common evening Primrose. The edges of the pond are home to sedges, ruches, cat-tails and bur-reeds.
The animal life in Woodland Gardens is typical to Nova Scotia. The most popular and visible animals are of course the ducks that call the pond home. There are microscopic organisms such as Daphnia and Paramediums in the pond, as well as Eastern Banded Killyfish, and the Brown Bullheaded Catfish.
Turtles (common snapping turtle and eastern painted turtle) and snakes are the only reptiles known to live in the park. The turtles are quick to slip into the water to avoid being seen. A log is anchored in the midst of the lily pads in an effort to provide a place for the turtles to sun themselves. Snakes are generally shy and they stay away from humans. Bullfrogs, Green Frogs, Northern Leopard and Pickerel Frogs all live in the pond, as well as Spring Peepers and American Toads. Wildlife in the park includes the Norway Rat, the Muskrat and the Grey and Red Squirrels.
Birds that tend to inhabit the park are the American Robin, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Belted Kingfisher, Black and White Warbler, Black-capped Chicadee, Black Duck, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue Jay, Brown Creeper, Cedar Waxwing, Chipping Sparrow, Common Crow, Common Grackle, Dark-eyed Janice, Eastern Kingbird, European Starling, Gadwell, Gray Jay, Great Blue Heron, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Mallard, Norther Cardinal, Northern Raven, Red Breasted Nuthatch, Rock Dove Pigeon, Rusty Blackbird, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Swallow, White Breasted Nuthatch, White-throated Sparrow, and the Wood Duck.
Backswimmers, water boatmen and whirligig beetles are found uniformly throughout the pond, while the water strider lives in the streams. In the park there are ants, moths, dragon flies, beetles, flies, honeybees, wasps, caterpillars, spittle bugs, lady beetles, anthrods, mullosks, and crustaceans.
This information is courtesy of a 1981 Nature Study and Woodland Garden Park Interpretation contracted by Desbrisay Musum, and subsequent 1995 research contracted by the Town of Bridgewater’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Department. Summer 2009