The Oak Hills Farm Prairie was planted on May 18th 2008, as a recreation of the Tallgrass Prairie which used to exist along the shores of Rice Lake. It is situated on 2.7 acres of gently rolling hills, with spectacular views over Rice Lake, between Port Hope and Peterborough.
The Oak Hills Farm Arboretum encircles the prairie. It was established in 2007/8 to demonstrate the range of native trees and shrubs which can be grown in Southern Ontario. All the trees and shrubs in the arboretum grow wild in Southern Ontario, although some are Carolinian species which normally only grow in the extreme south-west of the province. At present many of the trees are only 2 – 3 feet tall but they are very healthy and growing rapidly.
- An extensive area of flat or rolling, predominantly treeless grassland, especially the large tract or plain of central North America.
- Tallgrass Prairie:
- Prairie dominated by tall grasses such as Big Bluestem and Indian Grass.
The prairie features the four main tallgrass prairie grasses (Big Bluestem, Indian Grass, Little Blue Stem and Switch Grass), with Canada Wild Rye as a nurse crop. Seeds of fourteen typical prairie wildflowers, such as Bergamot, Beardtongue, Blazing Star, Showy Tick Trefoil, Skyblue Aster and Evening Primrose were also planted at the same time. The aim is to re-create the typical natural prairie environment which would have existed at the site before it was used for agriculture.
- A place where an extensive variety of woody plants are cultivated for scientific, educational and ornamental purposes.
The arboretum consists of over 100 native trees and shrubs, arranged around the circumference of the prairie.
The trees and shrubs were initially selected on the basis of being native to the local area, but this was extended to include specimens of many of the Carolinian species which are native to areas of south west Ontario, extending into the states of North and South Carolina. Many of these species are rare or endangered in Ontario, but with climate change may be able to extend their range further into southern Ontario.