The 50 acres of private woodlands offer guests 7 different forest areas, each with its own unique ambiance, features, and charm. The forest area decriptions below are an esoteric companion to the nature trails guide.
This area, site of the property’s original hardwood bush, is predominated by Sugar Maple ranging in size from saplings to mature trees stretching high into the sky. Black Cherry, beech, elm and ash of various sizes pepper the area as well as scattered ironwood, Bur Oak and Black Walnut. Several large cavity trees provide home for raccoons and porcupines, which are sometimes visible in the openings or up in the branches.
The Maples has a bright and airy feel to it in all seasons. In winter it is as if in deep rest, then in spring comes to life with energetic vitality. The rich leaf canopy offers a sense of abundance and security while the buttressed rooting of the large trees speaks to tenacity and foundation. In autumn, the leaves most kissed by the sun turn bright crimson red.
Uplifting Attributes* of maples are believed to include: abundance, balance, communication, creativity, divination, grounding, longevity, love, transformation, wisdom. This area supports and cultivates the root chakra.
Special Spot: A seat and ottoman were created from the remains of a large beech, felled in 2014 after succumbing to disease. Located at the high point of a gentle slope this is a peaceful spot to look up, look out, while at the same time feeling grounded.
The Red Pines
The Red Pine which predominate this area were planted in the 1970s and are now quite tall. Red Pine have a compact canopy and adapt to growth by self-pruning lower branches, letting through enough light that a diverse understory of younger growth can thrive. White Spruce, White Pine, and White Cedar fill out the perimeter of this forest area plus Black Cherry, ash, elm and other species scattered throughout.
With a high, semi-open canopy overhead and widely-spaced slim trees, the feel in the Red Pines is spacious. Their needles on the trees let through a gentle dappled light at all times of year while those on the ground provide a soft carpet to walk upon. Flexible yet strong, Red Pines show graceful expression and sensuality in the way they dance in the wind. A mature Red Pine stand like this feels like a community of trees, and it is nurturing the fertile beginnings of a whole new forest at ground level.
Uplifting Attributes* of pines are believed to include: abundance, emotions, fertility, good fortune, healing, health, immortality, love, prosperity, protection, purification, regeneration. This area supports and cultivates the sacral chakra.
Special Spot: Several pairs of hooks can be found in various places to hang a hammock, gaze up at the trees and feel immersion in their community.
Feature: Soundforest is a multi-sensory experience. Stand, sit, lie down, walk or amble amongst a grove of stately Red Pines to the gentle sound of wind chimes suspended overhead. Each of the tubular bells in these high-quality chimes meticulously tuned to a specific note. The strength and direction of the breeze make it a different experience each visit, sometimes gentle, sometimes a symphony.
The White Pines
The White Pine which populate this area were planted in the 1980s on abandoned pastureland. Apple trees can still be found amongst them as reminders of those farming days. Today, the pine are dense and in need of thinning. As a result it is difficult for new growth to compete but nevertheless ash, maple, and elm can be seen in various sizes, sometimes even snaking their way right up through the pine branches. There are also several small stands of aspen dotted through this area.
The defined rows of a plantation give a sense of orderliness to this forest area. The dense carpet of needles underfoot is soft, sometimes almost buoyant, and when warmed by the sun offers up an awesome scent. When breeze flows through the needles of a White Pine stand, it sounds astonishingly like the sea surf. These trees, uniform in species and growing in rank and file, project power and confidence, strength and resilience, and a clear defined identity.
Uplifting Attributes* of pines are believed to include: abundance, emotions, fertility, good fortune, healing, health, immortality, love, prosperity, protection, purification, regeneration.
Special Spot: The remains of the original pioneer barn foundation wall still persist through time. This space also functions as a campfire pit and gathering space with a stone bench and picnic tables. This area supports and cultivates the solar plexus chakra.
Feature: Woodland Labyrinth is a peaceful, serpentine journey amongst the trees. As distinct from mazes, labyrinths have a single path to centre and allow you to shut off the analytical brain and just “be”. Considered by some to be a “walking meditation”, or even a metaphor for life, labyrinths have a rich spiritual history and can help bring clarity to significant questions and conundrums.
The European Larch (a naturalized cousin to the native Tamarack) which predominate this area were planted in the 1980s on what was mostly abandoned pastureland. Larch grow vigorously, and many have already reached majestic heights. This area was thinned (removing every 4th row) several years ago, which has allowed a healthy and diverse understory to develop, including plentiful maple, ash, elm plus occasional beech, cedar and other saplings.
The Larches has a cathedral-like feel to it, with trees soaring on both sides of the central path and a quiet peacefulness down below in amongst the growth of the understory. Larch and Tamarack are unique in being the only conifers in Canada which shed all their needles each autumn. The needles are soft and delicate, lending a feathery quality to the branches and a gentle, kind being to their presence.
Attributes of larches are believed to include: equanimity, transformation, extension, gentleness, restfulness, surrender, vigour, love and caring. This area supports and cultivates the heart chakra.
Special Spot: A large boulder dropped off here many years ago by the glaciers, makes for a perfect spot to sit on or against and connect earth with heart.
Feature: Spirit Tree, an old Sugar Maple so large it would take 3 people holding hands to encircle it, has lived here quietly for well over 150 years and counting. The Elder of the entire forest, now guarded by the Larch that have grown up around it, surely she has astute wisdom and durable energy to share—if we can open ourselves to receiving it.
Trembling Aspen (members of the Poplar family) seldom occur in pure stands. However this property does include two concentrations of aspen with trees ranging in size from saplings to mature specimens almost 2 feet in diameter. Basswood, ash, elm, maple, oak and other trees naturally co-habitate amongst them. Interestingly, the trees of an aspen grove typically share a common root system, thus making them part of a single organism. A few trees beside the pond show signs of beaver who sometimes come to site out new habitat in spring before realizing the pond is not ideal and moving on.
The characteristic feature of this tree, also known as Quaking Aspen, is that even a very slight breeze gets the leaves quivering. There is a sense of energy, liveliness and expressiveness about them. The movement creates a prominent yet hushed sound, almost as if the leaves were like the background sound of a crowd talking. In fact, one of the Indigenous names for this tree refers to a tongue in constant movement.
Uplifting Attributes* of aspen are believed to include: ancestry, astral projection, communication, courage, eloquence, endurance, harmony, healing, money, peace, protection, rebirth, rejuvenation, success. This area supports and cultivates the throat chakra.
Special Spot: Two Muskoka chairs by the pond provide a comfortable place to relax and immerse in the sight and sound of the Aspen on any day with even the slightest of breeze.
Both White Spruce (native) and Norway Spruce (naturalized) populate this area, more densely to the east side, and less densely to the west. The spruces have regenerated naturally and continually since planting so there are a wide variety of ages and sizes to be seen. The area also integrates small stands of pine and cedar, numerous elm and ash scattered throughout, plus many other types of trees and shrubs.
Entering the Spruces is like walking through a gallery of Christmas trees of every possible size. Spruce is known for strength, with a strong trunk and branches which are flexible and yet engineered by nature to carry a heavy snow load. Both small mammals and large birds often use the spaces between the lower branches and the trunk for shelter. With their conical shape, spruce invite focus and perspective. Their dense branches absorb sound, especially in winter, cultivating clear perception and introspection.
Uplifting Attributes* of spruce are believed to include: enlightenment, grounding, healing, hope, intuition, protection, well-being, versatility. This area supports and cultivates the third eye chakra.
Special Spot/Feature: Deep in the middle of this area is a unique cluster of Spruces, notable in that the trees of this defined circle are all substantially taller and wider than any of the others in the vicinity.
White Cedar is a slow-growing and long-living tree known for resilience and ability to prosper even in compromised growing conditions. The result is trees which appear small for their age, and sometimes gnarly in shape. Most of the cedar in this area have regenerated naturally, resulting in a range of sizes. The dozen or so large (12”+ diameter) trees in this area have likely spawned many of the children and adolescents growing in close proximity. Not much else grows within the dense cedar patch but there are a few old elms and maples which pre-existed young cedars as well as other trees which intermingle on the periphery of the stand.
The density of cedars creates are dark and mystical place with slightly magical feel to it, almost like a faerie might pop out of the woods as you make your way through. Cedar is a highly spiritual tree in many Indigenous cultures. The longevity and hardiness of cedar add to the notion of it being a tree which goes beyond human generations and interconnects the present with the past and future. Also known as Arbour Vitae, or Tree of Life, cedar has the association of passing from darkness into light.
Uplifting Attributes* of cedar are believed to include: calm & balance, dreaming, eternal life, healing, longevity, preservation, prosperity, protection, purification, removal of negativity, wisdom. This area supports and cultivates the crown chakra.
Special Spot: Two unique clusters of cedars allow you to stand in the crux of 3 connected tree trunks, 3 being a sacred number in many religions and spiritual traditions and also considered the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding.