Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Mid-Summer: Coneflowers Are Bursting Out All Over

Find the bee on the flower.

Find the bee on the flower.

In Mid-July the ‘butterfly magnet” pink coneflowers (echinacea purpurea) start to take centre stage in the summer garden, ready for the busy pollinators, the bees and butterflies. This perennial native is a must-have in any garden, especially for those who like low maintenance and lots of bloom. Although there are now many new cultivars of this native plant, including double forms, the original native form is extremely reliable and carefree. It even self seeds to give you more plants in unexpected places, always a plus in my book.

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The Tipping Point and Natural Wildlife Gardens

monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly on verbena bonariensis flower.

Is the desire for natural gardens—along with a concern for pollinators like bees and butterflies—at a tipping point? I’m beginning to think so. Now that so much of our world is technologically driven, urban, half concrete-based and half virtual, there’s an instinctual movement back towards the natural world. The urge is primal—a longing for the natural—for, as Joni Mitchell once wrote, “getting back to the garden”.

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Bee & Butterfly Garden

Where once was just a patch of grass, now flowers bloom on the street.

Where once was just a patch of grass, now flowers bloom on the street.

The most satisfying garden I’m working on this summer is in a public space. It’s a “guerilla garden” next to a public school. (Maybe it’s really not a “guerilla garden” anymore, as the school—including the administration—absolutely love that it’s there.) Neighbours on our street started gardening on a strip of land next to the school parking lot about four years ago. We dug up the grass, planting discards from other gardens, whatever was going spare: hostas, orange daylilies, rudbeckia, shasta daisies and coreopsis.

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Squirrel Kryptonite: Protect Bulbs With Acti-Sol Hen Manure

 

squirrel face looking into camera

“I believe the buffet is nearby?”

You’ve just spent a few hours digging and planting a few bags of spring bulbs, and up pops the bane of a gardener’s existence—the friendly neighbourhood squirrel—and treats your hard work like a cross between an Easter egg hunt and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Crocus bulbs are particularly at risk; to a squirrel they are extra tasty “Fun Size” bulbs. How do you combat this? Well, physical measures help. Covering your soil with stones, newspaper and mulch can be effective.

We recently tried an experiment with Acti-Sol Hen Manure, a product that purports to repel squirrels. We added it to the bulb planting hole and used a generous sprinkle of the granulated manure around the planting area. The squirrels don’t appear to like the scent, and have miraculously stayed away.

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Stars of the August Garden: Buddleia & Rose of Sharon

Monarch butterfly on a Butterfly Bush Flower

Monarch butterfly on a Butterfly Bush Flower

In summer’s final act, we have to appreciate the stalwart and sturdy plants that faithfully bring August to full bloom, especially after the deadly drought we had this summer. Two of the best are the aptly named Butterfly Bush, Buddleia, and the Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus. Right now they are covered in bees and butterflies, and splashing colour and lush blossoms to gardens all over the city.

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