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Beautiful Wildlife Garden
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Gardening with heart: creating space for the Monarch

I don’t often stop when I’m driving to take pictures of people’s gardens – but something caught my eye in a small front yard on a busy Toronto street that had me braking in to the next driveway and dashing back with a camera.

It was a narrow strip of a bed, defined by a paved path up to the front door on one side, a driveway on the other, and completely filled with Common Milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca), its dusky pink flowers just now coming into bloom.

This, I thought, is gardening with heart. Milkweed once grew across North America, hosting the astonishing annual migration of the Monarch butterfly from Mexico to Canada. It takes six generations to get from south to north in a summer, and while the Monarch (like all butterflies), can get nectar from a wide variety of plants, the Monarch (like all butterflies) lays its eggs on one specific plant, or family of plants, which its larvae (caterpillars) have evolved to be able to consume.

Native plants with fragrant allure

CORRECTION - Library Garden Tour is 9 am-4 pm. Incorrect time posted earlier. 
Which speaks to you more – colour or fragrance? A hummingbird is inexorably drawn to colour and will investigate anything red, even inanimate objects that have no odour at all. Although bees discern colour (but not, apparently, red), scent is the guiding force and they will travel a long way for a grove of basswood trees or a field of blooming milkweed.

But many of the plants we love because they smell so wonderful are invasive aliens from Europe or Asia, aggressively displacing native species in the wild. This Don’t-Plant-This list includes Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), species Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and a nost of non-native vine and shrub Honeysuckles.

No worries: there are much better choices for Huronia gardens - so many native plants that provide intoxicating fragrance and why should the moths, the butterflies and the bees be the only ones to know?

Here’s a run-down:

Spring sale set for Saturday May 31

My annual spring sale is set for Saturday May 31 at 1186 Flos Road 10 East and I’m quite pleased with some of the plants I have on offer. It will run from 9am to 5 pm.
People often ask for a native ground cover and this year I have a nice Foamflower with a pale leaf that's very pleasing in dry shade conditions. I also have the Wild Strawberry – if you’re in a sandy situation and need something that will spread under your pine trees, this is the one. And Wild Ginger, for a more moist shade – a patch will spread slowly, with beautiful light-capturing leaves
Nothing is more wonderful than the ferns at this time of year, their delicate spirals unfurling into fronds of soft green. I have Ostrich Fern (stately) and Sensitive Fern (sculptural).

Spring colours - a passing parade

It’s been a grey couple of days leading into the long weekend, enlivened by extremely colourful birds.
The Goldfinches, of course, bright little yellow lanterns in the rain. A pack of Baltimore Orioles, attracted by some cut oranges, their colour eclipsing that of the fruit. A House Finch, richly red. And a pair of male Indigo Buntings in deep blue, shimmering, absolutely shimmering in the setting sun that decided to brighten up the end of the day.
I want to know where my hummingbirds are. 

Spring sparrows, spring peregrines, spring bears

There were much better pickings elsewhere in the thawing garden, so many of my avian familiars had disappeared. But yesterday the landscape turned white again, the snow was blustering and they were back in force – aided and abetted by newly arrived, extremely boisterous American Tree Sparrows in greater numbers than I have seen here before.

Juncos, Goldfinches and Chickadees mingled with the newcomers – which included female Brownheaded Cowbirds. The latter huddled together on the feeder ledges, looking miserable and ignoring the advances of the males that have been here for a week.

Across the county, people took note of a feeding frenzy outside their windows. Some logged on to the Simcoe Nature Board to report Fox Sparrows, Song Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Purple Finches, Cardinals, Evening Grosbeaks, and many more.

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1186 Flos Rd. 10 E. Simcoe County Ontario 705-322-2545
Serving the Gardening Communities of Elmvale, Wasaga Beach, Collingwood, Stayner, Midland, Barrie & Area
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