Summer Series Update

Urquhart Butterfly Garden at Centennial Park, Dundas

Dragonflies & Their Kin 

Brenda Van Ryswyk

Free Workshop

Saturday August 14 at 10 am

Dragonflies are amazing creatures.  They zip through the air, with an ability to fly up & down, hover like a helicopter, and even fly backwards and upside down in their quest for a meal of flying insects.  They have extraordinary eyesight, and their complex eye structure enable them, to see almost 360 degrees without moving the head.

Brenda Van Ryswyk, well known dragonfly expert, will be leading a workshop which will tell more about the the astonishing lives of these beautiful creatures, and how to locate and identify them.

The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is adjacent to water, so its an excellent location for dragonfly viewing.  Join Brenda on Saturday, August 14 at  10 am 

  • Please bring a chair
  • On a bus route and lots of free parking

     –   Cancelled in the event of rain

Funded by the Dougher Fund of the Hamilton Community Foundation

Summer Series Begins this Weekend.

Urquhart Butterfly Garden Summer Series 2021 :  Saturday August 7 – September 11

The Urquhart Butterfly Garden will begin a Summer Series of workshops on Saturday August 7 at 10 am.

Our own staff naturalist Matt Mills will be the first of the Saturday guides with a Butterfly and Nature Identification walk.  It takes a trained eye to point out hidden butterflies and to distinguish the identifying features.  Can you tell the difference between a Monarch and a Viceroy?  Do you know why stinging nettle is such an important plant in a butterfly garden?    Discover these answers and much more.

The session is open to all, and you will leave with a new knowledge and understanding of the wonderful diversity of wildlife at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden.  Saturday August 7 at 10 am.

You are requested to bring a chair and wear a hat. We will spend 1 hour in the full sun of the garden. The event will be cancelled in the event of rain.

The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is immediately adjacent to Centennial Park and the Hamilton Air Force Association at 128 King St. E in Dundas.

There is plenty of free parking and the location is easily accessible by public transportation or bicycle.


For more information contact:

Joanna Chapman

Black Swallowtail. August 02, 2021. Photo By Michelle Sharp.

2021 Summer Series

The beautiful sunshine and soaring temperatures of midsummer have arrived and the butterflies have followed. The garden is in full flower and an excellent diversity of species may be seen on sunny days.

A Tawny Emperor – a first for the garden – was photographed last week. Other spectacular species, including Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, are present for the patient visitor.

The photo contest continues through August. Unique photo experiences abound in the height of summer so be sure to seize the opportunity.

We have a free summer education series set to begin August 7 and run until September 11.  Come visit each Saturday morning as local experts teach about wildlife in the garden. A schedule is posted below.

2021 Photo Contest

***UPDATE August 01, 2021***
Please note that the Photo Contest rules previously stated 3 photos in 4 categories for a total of up to 8 photos. This was an error and has been corrected. The rule now states Enter up to 3 photos per category (maximum 12 photos).

Spring is rushing into Summer.  Butterflies are coming, new ones every day.  There is also lots of interesting bug activity for the sharp eyed nature watcher.  We have young rabbits and some chipmunks along with the usual voles, however there has been a mink visiting, so small mammals will need to be very careful.

The mulberries are ripening and the birds are flocking to them, see how many species you can spot.

Matt Mills, nature interpreter and gardener, started work in early June.  He’s always happy to answer your questions and is very skilled at identification, so don’t be shy with your queries.

 Our regular postings of photos Seen in the Garden will begin again this week.  The Photo Contest starts on Friday, June 25, so good luck with your sightings!


Announcing the winners of the Winter Photo Contest

Congratulations to all entrants!  Your photos were of a very high standard and selecting just one winner in each category proved to be exceptionally difficult. 

There were no pretty butterflies or colourful flowers, but with fewer subjects to choose from in the winter, it forced a great deal of creativity and you took many stunning photos.

Because the choices were so difficult, we decided to have ‘runners up’, which appear in alphabetical order under the category.

The four First Prize winners will receive an envelope in the mail in approximately one week.

Once again, congratulations to all!

1st Place – Red-tailed Hawk. Mark Williams, Hamilton
Runner Up – Miner Bee and Pussy Willow. Doug Hall, Brantford
Runner Up – Common Garter Snake. Keith Sharp, Dundas
Runner Up – American Robin. Michelle Sharp, Dundas
Runner Up – Snail. Michelle Sharp, Dundas
Runner Up – Sparrow. Marsha Wright, Waterdown
1st Place – Sunrise over the canal. Michelle Sharp, Dundas
Runner Up – Open Seadhead. Ted Jez, Burlington
Runner Up – Leaf on Snow. Ken Kerr, Dundas
Runner Up – Snow Shore. Mike Pearson, Dundas
Runner Up – Winter tree reflection on the canal. Michelle Sharp, Dundas
1st Place – Ring-billed Gull. Rebeka Bateman, Hamilton
Runner Up – Hooded Merganser. Florina Keller, Hamilton
Runner Up – Mallards. Florina Keller, Hamilton
Runner Up – Chipmunk eating snail. Kalan Post, Hamilton
Runner Up – Chipmunk. Sarah Skinner Brown, Dundas
1st Place – Winter Leaves. Kalan Post, Hamilton
Runner Up – Puddle Reflection. Kalan Post, Hamilton
Runner Up – Bee Balm. Sarah Skinner Brown, Dundas
Runner Up – Insect on Periwinkle. Sarah Skinner Brown, Dundas

Below are all the entries for the winter photo contest. With hundreds of beautiful entries, it was a difficult decision for the judge. Thanks to all for participating and sharing your unique experiences in the Garden. Click any photo to enter a slideshow and see photographer and species details.

Spring update

April 21, 2021

With luck last night we just had our last snow for the season!

Carolyn Zanchetta worked at the Garden and looked after the web site and Photo Contests for the last year.  Carolyn has recently accepted a position with the Halton Conservation Authority, and will not be returning for this season.  She is leaving us with the very best wishes from everyone concerned with the Urquhart Butterfly Garden. 

On June 1, we will be welcoming Matt Mills as the coordinator, interpreter, gardener at the Butterfly Garden.

Many will know Matt already from his interpretive walks during the summer series.  He’s an avid naturalist and excellent birder.

The results of the Winter Photo Contest will be posted on May 15. Thank you to all who entered.

We are hoping for a great season, with weather that is not too hot, not too cold; not too dry, not too wet.  Fingers crossed!


Looking forward to summer days ahead! Photo by Justine Rudnicki, 2020.

Winter life at the garden

Even throughout the deep freeze of winter, life continues at the garden. There is great beauty to still be found with a fresh backdrop of snow – the textures of dried plants poking out beneath a blanket of white, the contrast of a bright red Cardinal high in a tree against the blue-grey sky, and the plentiful ducks, geese, and swans enjoying the flowing water of the canal. Take some time to go for a winter’s walk and experience the garden in a completely different way. Bring your camera to capture the moment and enter our 2021 Winter Photo Contest.

Thank you to Mark Williams for sharing some excellent photos and a video from recent visits!

Hooded Merganser, February 18, 2021. Photo by Mark Williams.

Photo by Mark Williams, February 18, 2021.

Photo by Mark Williams, February 18, 2021.

Announcing a special Winter Photo Contest!

Please wear a mask when you walk through the garden, even though it is outside. Bring your camera along as you walk through for exercise and fresh air. Stay at least two metres apart and do not congregate with others from outside your household. The current guidelines restrict outdoor gatherings to fewer than five people. If there are already five visitors in the garden, please visit another time instead. Currently, the Hamilton Conservation Authority remains open with similar guidelines.

This year only, the Urquhart Butterfly Garden and the Hamilton Conservation Authority invite you to participate in a special Winter Photo Contest at the garden and Canal Park!

Please read the following carefully, as it is a little different than the summer photo contest. Photos must be taken between January 15, 2021 through April 15, 2021. As this contest is in partnership with the Hamilton Conservation Authority, it also includes Canal Park. See the map below for the approximate contest boundary.

Send your entries to before midnight on April 15. Good luck!

***Ready to enter? Only 3 photos per category allowed. Please send a separate email for each category. Each photo must be less than 5 MB. YOU MUST PROVIDE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING to be considered (copy and paste into your email so you don’t miss anything):

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Phone Number
  4. Age (ONLY if under 18)
  5. Category
  6. Date and time each photo was taken
  7. If entry is wildlife, identify the species

We will confirm your entry within 5 business days. If you do not hear from us, please follow-up.

Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Photo Contest

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Urquhart Butterfly Garden Photo Contest! A big thank you to the judges for their time and thoughtful decisions.  The judges send their heartfelt congratulations to the winners.

Most of the work on the Photo Contest has been done by Carolyn Zanchetta, who many of you will have seen working away at the Garden. Thank you, Carolyn.

It was wonderful to see how many people took part in this contest, appreciated the Garden, and learned what treasures can be seen. 

Congratulations to the Winners and and thank you to all the contestants – we loved all your photos! Click any photo below to begin a slideshow.