What are the Rainbow Poles at the Experimental Farm for?


You’ve probably walked, biked, or driven passed the big red barn at Ottawa’s Experimental Farm once or twice and wondered “What the heck are those technicolored posts for?” – and if so – you’re certainly not the only one! Are they an art installation or are they of practical use for the farm? Yes – they’re both! Or maybe you haven’t and are just curious to learn more about this mysterious little infrastructure in your home town. Follow along to learn exactly what it is that this intriguing installation is all about and who’s responsible for bringing it to life (ahem… we think you may have heard of them before..).


Wait… where is this?

You can find Bee Haven amidst the ‘Canendensis: garden of Canada’ exhibit located at the Central Experimental Farm; Red Barn, just east of Prince of Wales Drive. You can park your vehicle at the farm itself (across the street), or at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. While you’re here – check out all three!

Who is responsible for its creation?

If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s us here, the Gardening by Design team! Along with the assistance from Mary Faught (curator and organizer of the exhibit as a whole) We, as well as five other local artists helped contribute individually to the Beyond the Edge: Artists Gardens throughout the field. We enjoyed connecting and making friends with these other artists along the way while we each built our installations. While all the pieces that are part of Beyond the Edge are completely separate, they all seem to have a cohesive flow and contribute perfectly to the gardens, making it a real experience to wander through the grounds. We dreamt up the idea for the Bee Haven install and brought it to life - here at GBD we love seeing our projects through from the seedling of an idea on paper to a physical entity! So rewarding after all of our hard work and reminds us why we love what we do!

When can I go see it?

Opening day was Thursday June 22nd 2016 and goes until September 2017. Take a stroll through the field anytime this spring, summer, or fall to take it all in. After visiting the Bee Haven – do the loop through the grounds to end at the most gorgeous, serene oak tree. Collect an acorn or two and take a moment to relax amidst the natural beauty right in the heart of our lovely city.


Work and Maintenance

Starting with a huge overhaul in the spring, we here at GBD tackle the weeding and mulching process in maintaining this wildflower garden’s natural beauty. It is a native wildflower and herb garden so we are careful not to remove too much in order to keep its natural rhythm – the more we leave the better for the bees! We do pull any invasive or harmful species that may find their way into the garden, but leave all of the blooming perennial flora and greens! There is a fine line between ‘wildflower’ and ‘weed’ and we like to keep it laid back and pretty open as long as it doesn’t interfere with the growth of surrounding plant life. You can find cat mint, daisies, chives, and yarrow just to name a few! All of these are extremely helpful in attracting and providing for our local endangered bee population. Plant a trip to the Bee Haven garden to observe what we have planted to inspire you to incorporate some of the same elements into your garden at home to help save the bees! You might also notice a peak in butterfly action as well – BONUS. Plant some lavender, mint, and calendula to do your part in helping out our dear pals, the bees.

Here is Engelina hard at work taming some wild grasses who have found their home framing the been garden.


All of the flourishing native plants are here to attract and nourish the local bee population and the colorful poles aren’t just for art or show – they’re actually meant to be homes for these visiting bees! The poles are tapped with holes for the bees to get cozy and nest in for protection.

Bees aren’t the only visitors of our garden!

One of our most favorite things about getting to work outside in the heart of the experimental farm is all of the visits from the neighborhood pups (and their owners)! We love when a curious dog wanders over to check in on what we are up to and to lend us a helping paw with the weeding. This here is little Atlas; a local Australian Cattle dog who we just couldn’t resist a quick cuddle break with. We love it when passer-byers stop for a chat about the garden, so if you’re lucky enough to catch us here working one early summer morning, don’t be shy – come say hi! We would love to meet you and hear about how you discovered our bee haven and offer tips on creating your own at home! Together we can all do our part to save the bees.


We hope that you and your friends and family get the chance this summer season to check it out for yourselves and enjoy an afternoon observing all of the wonders that this area has to offer! Take a stroll along the pathway through the field to take a peek at a few of the other incredible local installations and then head across the street to the farm to say hey to the animals before passing through to the stunning botanical gardens next door which display the most breathtaking assortment of lilac bushes, irises, peonies, poppies, and more!


If you want to learn more about this section of the experimental farm check out these short articles;

Thanks for following along and let us know if you’ve already visited prior to stumbling upon this post or if you’ll be heading over as soon as possible after reading!

Thanks for reading

GBD Team