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Kate's Blog

Sep 3

Downsizing the garden library – and updating on Monarchs

It’s been fun, going through my garden books, many of them dating to the ‘90s and early ‘00s when I was writing reviews for the Toronto Star, and beautiful and interesting books just flowed my way. But I have to reduce my collection, this is the year I am trying to get rid of stuff... so I will have a whole lot of books for sale when I re-open this Saturday, September 9, after which they will be gone.

But it’s hard, deciding what has to go!

There are some I won’t take leave of, even though I have long outgrown them – like my first gardening book, purchased in 1978 when I finally had a garden. Carters Dictionary of Gardening was my guide in those early years (this was in the U.K.) – but a keen interest in growing food – dealt with rather too succinctly by Carters in a few short pages under ‘K’ for Kitchen Garden – prompted an investment in a slim paperback by D. G. Hessayon called the Vegetable Plotter. It’s simple and still valued, with you-can’t-go-wrong instructions on growing 25 vegetables, from broad beans to turnips.

Returning to Canada in the early ‘80s, I started my Simcoe County garden and refined my vegetable growing techniques with the Harrowsmith Northern Gardener by Jennifer Bennett. My volume is not in good shape, having weathered a rainstorm or two, but just seeing the cover brings back many happy memories.
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Sep 3

Saturday September 9 - nursery opens + book sale

I am open from 10-4 every Saturday in September from now on, except for Sept. 23. Just let me know by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 705-322-2545 if you want to come at another time.

Check plant list.


New to gardening? You'll find the perfect primer here. Need to refine your design skills? Here are books for that. Or just looking for a couple of enjoyable reads to curl up with? - there'll be something for you on this list, on offer when I re-open on Saturday September 9.

Hardback $3

The Aroma Therapy Garden – Julia Lawless – 2001 – Kyle Cathle
Gardening with Herbs – Tolley Mead – 1995 – Clarkson Potter
Aromatics – Angela Flanders – 1995 - Clarkson Potter
What Plant Where - Roy Lancaster – 1995 - Cavendish Books
Window Boxes Indoors and Out – James Cramer et al – 1999 – Artisan
The Gardener’s Iris Book - William Sher - 1998 - Taunton Press
Bulbs and Tubers – Klaas Noordhauis and Sam Benvie – 1998 - Key Porter
Tulips – Arend Jam van der Horst and Sam Benvie – 1998 – Key Porter
The New Perennial Garden – Noel Kingsbury – 1996 - Henry Holt
Larousse Gardening and Gardens – 1990 - Hamlyn Publishing
How to Garden –John Cushnie – 2001 – Kyle Cathie
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Aug 24

Raising Monarchs, routing aphids

It was a heart-stopping moment.

I was cleaning the Monarch caterpillar trays and Ami, the new puppy, grabbed a milkweed cutting from the container used by caterpillar #9 and proceeded to strip all the leaves off. I naturally was terribly upset – not only because of the apparent demise of #9, but also because I thought Ami might get sick; #9 was particularly large and juicy. Then I noticed #9 on another cutting in the same container. Relief! and a more careful separation of canine and cat.

My adventure with Monarch juveniles starts 10 days ago when I get back from a week away and notice that the Swamp Milkweed in the bog garden is in glorious flower, but also looking a little droopy. I take the hose over and started to trickle water in, thinking the area had dried out. It’s a busy spot. A Monarch butterfly hovers around me, landing on the flowers. Many bees and syrphid flies are feeding there too. Then, I see the aphids. Every stem right up and into the florets, is thickly coated with a layer of tiny orange insects.

I go to consult the internet and find that this species is Aphis nerii, the Oleander Aphid, aka the Milkweed Aphid. A helpful site called Monarch Butterfly Garden – the work of one Tony Gomez - has a whole page devoted to removal of these creatures. Not only do they weaken the plant, but they reduce the viability of any seed it produces – so immediate action was indicated. I start squirting jets of water at the pests, a method that a couple of years ago I found worked well to remove Milkweed Tussock Moth, which starts off looking a little like aphids. (When these guys got to the stage of looking like hairy caterpillars, I moved them from my potted Swamp Milkweed to patches of Common Milkweed in my field and they continued their lifecycle there.)
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