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Nov 5

Kate Harries at Wasaga Beach Garden Club

I'll be speaking about gardening with native plants on Wednesday, November 7 at the Wasaga Beach Garden Club - 7:30-9:30 pm at the Lighthouse Community Church.
I'll talk about how important it is to birds and other creatures in our outdoors spaces that we grow native plants - and I'll highlight some of my favourite beautiful and easy-to-grow natives.
Light refreshments will be served.
Sep 24

To rear or not to rear: the Monarch debate

Jason Kay, who gardens in Evanston, Illionois, near Chicago, kindly gave me permission to reprint his  blog about the pro's and cons of raising Monarch caterpillars.

By Jason Kay Garden in a CIty

I am a strong believer in listening to people who know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, sometimes people who usually know what they are talking about shoot themselves in the foot, often by insisting that they know more than they really do.

An example is the current controversy over captive rearing of Monarch butterflies. This is an increasingly popular hobby for many gardeners and others who wish to help restore the population of this beautiful species. The rationale is that 90%+ of Monarch caterpillars do not survive to adulthood (due mainly to predators), but a large majority of those raised indoors do survive so that they can be released as mature butterflies.

Judy and I raised a few Monarchs indoors this year for the first time (fewer than 10), and I can attest that it’s exciting and fun.

But then along came the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, certainly a worthy organization. However, they published a blog post that was highly critical of captive rearing of Monarchs. This has caused a lot of people to become pretty upset.
Read more
Aug 27

To Europe and back: An absence of birds, an abundance of cucumber vine...

Fall is almost upon us and with it comes the joy of a new planting season.  Get your plants in the ground in September or October and they will send some roots out before it freezes (with luck, one can have success in planting right up to freeze-up). In spring, you’ll be ahead of the game with the work done in the coming weeks. The Return of the Native plant nursery will re-open 10 am on Saturday September 1 and will be open 10 am-4 pm Fridays and Saturdays after that until the end of October. Check out the plant list, there are some new items.

How does your garden grow? I have been away for two weeks and have come back to rampant growth – a stark contrast to conditions in Europe, where trees are wilting, lawns are blasted and vegetable gardens have shut down in protest. It’s just been too hot and dry. My feeling is that the baking from the sun has killed off the micro-organisms in the upper layers of the soil so even regular watering, as carried out by my brother in France, has failed to save many of the crops he normally grows. The cucumbers in particular were a sad sight.

Another brother, in England, enlisted my help in restructuring some of his garden beds. He wanted the pink phlox banished and also objected strongly to the orange roses. So the phlox went to the compost heap, a couple of rose bushes were dispatched to a new home, and we were off to a nearby garden centre to do some shopping. 

I anticipated little activity and slim pickings in mid-August. How wrong I was – the place was packed! Unlike Canadians who after a few days activity in the spring consider the gardening job done, the English garden all year round. Another surprise was the number of North American native plants on offer – granted, a lot were cultivars in which breeding has tweaked heights and colours, but still, many were ones with which I am very familiar - Black Cohosh, Anise Hyssop, Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod among them. Read more