Swallow-wort Biocontrols Pass Test. 2 moths = hope.
August 18, 2011
May 6, 2011
It's kick-off weekend for local native plant sales. As always, get there early!
Saturday May 7th, 10am-3pm
North American Native Plant Society's Annual Spring Native Plant Sale
Markham Civic Centre Atrium, Hwy. 7 and Warden Ave.
Great plants and speakers! Details here.
Sunday May 8th, 2011, 11am-2
High Park Stewards' Native Plant Sale
High Park, Toronto
The sale will take place in front of the High Park Greenhouse from 11:00 to 2:00 pm. In order to have plants for everyone to enjoy, large orders will be available only after 1:00 from the remaining stock. Please park in the Grenadier Restaurant parking lot. Assistance in carrying plants will be provided. Cash only. Please park at the Grenadier Restaurant and walk to the Greenhouse S. on Centre Road to Greenhouse Road. Plant list here. More info here
Also, Rare Plants of the Endangered High Park Black Oak Savannah, A Volunteer Stewardship Program Guidebook will be on sale for a special price of $10
Saturday, May 28th
Waterloo-Wellington Wildflower Society
Our annual Plant Sale has a new home. We will be sharing space with the City of Guelph Rain barrel and Composter Sale at Guelph Waterworkson York Rd. So mark your calendars for , set up on the evening of Friday May 27. Proceeds from the sale fund speakers during the year and our donations to organizations that protect wildflowers and their habitat. We rely upon your donated plants for the sale. Please set aside some plants for the sale when dividing your garden plants.
- Evergreen Market Garden at the Brick Works (lower Don Valley, Toronto) is open. Their selection includes native plants for sale all season long.
- Carolinian Canada Coalition's Native Planting Stock for the Carolinian Zone will help you find native plant nurseries near you.
PS: Want to know about many more local native plant events? Let me (oh soo gratefully) recommend The Local Scoop event calendar! We've all needed this for a long time. Thank yous!
April 18, 2011
"U of T's forestry school faces the axe" - The Globe and Mail.
The article is from April 1st. (apologies it slipped by me).
"Student Eric Jacobsen said “We do a lot more social and integrative approaches to forestry ...and it’s also less of an industry-focused program.”"
And a choice place to learn about urban forestry.
Why compromise the capacity of a faculty that already exists?
And I can't imagine a worse time to do it.
To state the obvious: currently this city and cities across this country are dealing with massive urban reforestation commitments (variations of planting X# trees, &/or achieving X% canopy cover, by Y date). It seems to me that our best urban foresters are still struggling to figure out what those targets even mean, or should mean. Will it mean x% canopy cover that will last 30 or a 130 years? Which species: indigenous, native, exotic, invasive, GM'd, mass produced cheap clones? Beyond carbon sequestration, which ecological services should be integrated into those targets? And then, how to pull together the political will and the required resources to make make intelligent policies actually happen on the ground? This current surge of tree planting funding is a sudden and massive experiment, and a responsibility and opportunity happening on our watch. And so are its impacts on a changing mix of urban forestry stewardship orgs, private and public sector urban forestry industries and its professions. All of this at time when we know our urban forests are in ecological crises, e.g. degradation from historic and changing land uses, the challenge of reducing urban sprawl so we can retain ecological heritage and functions, the need to remediate post-industrial contamination in soil and groundwater, invasive species and climate change.
An intelligent continuing commitment to develop the skills and capacity necessary to understand, conserve, restore and engineer beneficial ecological function of our forests (urban and otherwis) can only help. Which leads me to wonder, if not now, when would be a more relevant and necessary time or opportunity for us /our universities, to support and study forestry?
November 29, 2010
The Role of Native Plant Seed Collectors and Growers in Protecting Floral Diversity
by David N. Morris
A thesis presented to the University of Waterloo in fulfillment of the thesis requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2010. Supervisor: Prof. Stephen D. Murphy.
"...The planting of native species is a common strategy for the conservation of biodiversity ...there has been very little research done about the diversity within plantings by non-state actors. This research was undertaken to address this knowledge gap by studying the provenances of planted rare species and the activities of those who collect and grow these plants. This research was undertaken in the Carolinian zone of southern Ontario, a region with a large number of rare plant species and a large human population."
Southern Ontario stewards, gardeners and seed collectors can find practical and ethical advice here:
1. The Society For Ecological Restoration - Ontario Chapter updated their Growers Guidelines and Buyers Guidelines w/in the past year.
(BTW: SERO also widely publicized these guidelines to their partners and across academic, private, public and enthusiast newsletters. They also inventoried commercial native plant growers across the province -- & not just those who sell restoration quality plants-- and then sent each one of them these guidelines, along with an invitation to contact SERO for further information or assistance. Thank Megan and the Steve's! Not bad for an entirely volunteer effort. Did I mention SERO could use some volunteers, Board Members, and someone w/ desktop publishing skills for the new guide? It's a rare opportunity really: the current active members have so much experience they're a fascinating privilege to volunteer alongside).
2. Forest Gene Conservation Association. The FGCA site answers a lot of questions about how to ethically seed collect and purchase our native woodies from a ecological literate, biodiversity & Species-at-Risk conservation perspective. Also, along w/ partner organizations, they've delivered several publicly accessible "Certified Seed Collector" workshops in the past few years throughout south, central and eastern Ontario.
But I had to get past my initial ignorance. While it's easy to find lists of Ontario's and its Ecoregions Species-at-Risk, it's very difficult for most people to access local conservation "L ranks" for plant species-at-risk. I've thought about this last point often, and I still don't understand why our local Conservation Authorities don't make those L ranks publicly accessible. I don't see what risks it would pose. But I do see the benefits.
Also, even among some of the better non-profits orgs who buy, plant, grow and sell natives, most aren't even aware that several popular native plant species were added to the Ontario Endangered Species Act w/in the past couple of years, although Graham Buck (Nith River Native Plant & Seeds owner and OMNR staff) did provide public workshops. And so I still see these species commonly collected, sold and purchased, by folks who aren't even aware of the status of these species, let alone the required permits for exemption from our provincial SAR legislation (e.g. for growers who use these seeds to supply eco-restoration and conservation practitioners). In those cases, I believe I have better luck by starting up a conversation about it and then following up by sending folks information (hey, most of us are ecological illiterate and trying to learn) than I would if I tried to play some imaginary hard-headed 'plant nazi' (Do you know I've never met one? I don't think they actually exist. I think it's a mythical derisive term created by people who are trying to appease their own conscience and insecurities). But make no mistake, I want our Species-at-Risk to survive in their habitats for another generation, and a few more after that.
November 24, 2010
"As mankind continued to chip his chert for stone warfare at the end of the Stone Age, he became very interested in the nut as food. It is thought that the movement of a nut called hazel or Corylus across the world was due almost entirely to mankind's fondess for its flavour. Indeed in North America, the mesolithic practice of the grand savannah design came into being primarily as a nut pasture to amplify game. This was a design centered around the open solar exposure of a nut-bearing canopy, whose wild grass pasture was flash-fired in April and November. This ashing of the soil produced fertilizer, pest management and increased herd capacity all rolled into one. The real gold came later on in the fall as crops of nuts. These were called pekan, or nut, throughout the length and breadth of the continent by an aboriginal culture that knew what it was doing and why it was doing it."Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum Borealis, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 2010. P43.
October 31, 2010
I love the Hallowe'en front porch displays, especially the gourds. But at this time of year what I really want in my yard is a Shagbark Hickory Carya Obvata.
I don't have any good pics of mature Shagbarks myself, but here is a perfect one - do you see what I mean?
What an unapologetically feral looking tree. In an urban residential front yard, it would stick out like a defiant middle finger among (and towards) any manicured properties around it. I'd like to meet the person who would plant this as a high wildlife value specimen tree in their front yard.
And, yes, a perfect tree for Hallowe'en. As William Cullina wrote, the bark's sheets "...hang there forlornly, so the whole tree takes on a shaggy, uneven aspect ... the bare trees seem alive and almost sinister on a wet foggy day."
Intrigued? This article is worth a read: Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) Ontario Arborist, May/June 2010, Michael Richardson, B.Sc.F., Consulting Arborist. Couple of highlights:
Shagbark Hickory as bat habitat:
"The bats use the trees as roost and maternal sites and apparently not only use the peeling sheets to hide under but finds that shagbarks provide excellent thermal regulation. In Ontario, species such as the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus), the silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans), and likely the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) are found using live shagbarks. It seems clear that in forests and urban situations, the loss of dead trees with sloughing bark has lead to a decline in bats using natural roost sites. Shagbark hickories provide excellent roost sites as the bark begins to shed at 10+ years and can continue to provide outstanding habitat for two centuries or more."Shagbark Hickory and First Nations arboriculture:
"First Nation people may have practiced arboriculture, and this, along with their agricultural practices, helps to explain the range and density of shagbark hickory. By managing individual trees and entire landscapes, these peoples have had a great influence on forests in eastern North America. First Nations were once considered to be in harmony with nature, but now many scientists believe that they were in fact a “keystone” factor in ecosystem development. [here's a wikipedia definition of 'keystone species']Here in Toronto, I know Steve Smith / Urban Forest Associates plants them in the Don Valley (a young grove of them in Windfields Park for one). I'm already excited to see them when they mature. I especially want to walk among their silhouettes some dusky October eve.
Throughout the world, traditional cultures farmed various fruit and mast trees, which made survival easier than that of the constantly moving hunters and gathers. This has been termed balanoculture. In eastern North America, shade-tolerant forests (maple-beech) could not meet the dietary requirements of First Nations. The manipulation of forests – and in fact entire landscapes – using deliberately set fires was a method to help assure sufficient food stuffs.
The use of fire, planting, tree girdling and forest thinning allowed creation of “orchards” of hickory and other mast crops. Hickory nuts were one of the main foodstuffs for many First Nations throughout eastern North America. Nuts and acorns are calorie packed and could be stored. The sweet nuts of shagbark hickory seemed to be particularly favoured and are amongst the highest caloric ratings of mast crops.
In eastern North America, the distribution of early succession forests and hickory, oak and chestnut appear to be strongly predicted by First Nation occupation. This relationship is so strong that estimates of occupation is a better predictor of oak, hickory and chestnut than a number of topographic and soil variables."
September 30, 2010
Sat Oct 2, 12-5pm
Fall Native Plant Sale & AGM
North American Native Plant Society
Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Boulevard, Markham, ON
The good plants, at good prices too. The funds support NANPS.
New to NANPS sales? Just by showing up you'll learn more about NANPS, similar local organizations and upcoming events. Pick up some of the free newsletters, outreach pamphlets etc on the tables, meet passionate and knowledgeable folks. Speakers too!
September 20, 2010
September 4, 2010
Thurs Nov 4th -> Fri Nov 5th
Ontario Urban Forest Council 2010 conference
Healthy Communities are Rooted in Urban Forests
Thorold ON (Four Points by Sheraton, St. Catharines Niagara Suites 3530 Schmon Parkway)
"This conference will be focusing on the relationship between urban forests and community health. Registration is not yet open. This is a save the date announcement. We are finalizing the list of speakers. As information becomes available, it will be posted on our website www.oufc.org.Aside:
We have confirmed our keynote speaker: Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and medical biochemist who is an expert on the medicinal, environmental, and nutritional properties of trees. She is the author of several books including Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest (2003), its sister book Arboretum Borealis, and The Global Forest (2010).
Hey OUFC speakers coordinators: good call! Folks have been enthusiastically recommending Diana Beresford-Kroeger's books to me since spring, and I've been going through a "I am so hard-up for intro plant biochemistry (and so are you, because a lot of it is emerging knowledge)" phase, so thank you! :)
Mon-Tues, Oct 4th-5th
Ontario Invasive Plant Council
2010 AGM & Invasive Plant Symposium
The OIPC's 4th Annual General Meeting and Invasive Plant Symposium will be held in London at the Lamplighter Inn. Be sure to register early for the October 4th field trips as space is limited. The Agenda will be updated regularly as details are confirmed. Click here to Register.Invasive sucks, but they are compelling. If you haven't heard of the OIPC before, or want to see what they've been up to lately (or even if you're still looking for reliable info and advice on Giant Hogweed and other invasive plant species), check out their site!
Thurs-Sat, Oct 28th-30th, 2010
Expanding Horizons - OLTA's 2010 Gathering
Ontario Land Trust Alliance
Lots of workshops and speakers, including hearing from funders on the status of their programs for land conservation.
"We are looking forward to another fantastic gathering with more workshops, more field workshops and more networking opportunities. In keeping with the theme of "Expanding Horizons", we are looking to provide you with information on new potential partners while learning more regarding the Canadian Land Trust Standards and Practices."
August 22, 2010
Thurs Sept 9th 2010
Growing Native Edibles with Lorraine Johnson
A Young Urban Farmers CSA Summer Workshop
Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Ave. Suite 400, Alterna Savings room, Toronto
Cost: Pay what you can
"Join acclaimed author and garden guru Lorraine Johnson for a workshop on edible native plants to grow in your garden. By growing these delicious plants native to the region, you'll not only be creating habitat in your patch of green space but also nurturing tasty treats for your dinner table. Become an urban forager...at home.Lorraine recently taught a similar workshop at the Brick Works. Lauren from BlogTO.com covered it, including lots of edible native plant suggestions for our gardens!
Only 20 spaces are available for this event. For more information or to RSVP directly, contact Noelle Munaretto at email@example.com with your name and phone number."
Lorraine Johnson's latest book is City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing (Greystone Books, 2010) read more about it, and her new blog, here.
July 13, 2010
Weds. Oct 27th 2010, 7:30pm
Bringing Nature Home - Douglas Tallamy Lecture
Toronto Botanical Gardens Edwards Lectures in partnership with the North American Native Plant Society
Toronto Botanical Gardens, Floral Hall.
Door sales only (this seems to be a popular question = why I'm posting this so early). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Limited seating. Admission: Public $20 / Students (with valid ID) $15 / FREE for Members of the Toronto Botanical or Reciprocal Gardens. Reduced admission fee for members of NANPS.
Don't know about Tallamy yet? Check out this post over at Carole Brown's Ecosystem Gardening site.
This pic is full of wonders for me: i don't know the mushroom (but i love the way he looks like maybe he's curious about me too) or the grass or the lichen w/ the stove pipes. But what intrigues me the most is the 4th species in the photo: the one which absurdly looks like some kind of 3 inch tall rubbery kelp, but w/ prickly-spiny leaf edges. I feel ridiculous even describing it like a sea or tidal zone plant, because it's growing on and between limestone pavement at an inland alvar, but, yeah, those are the only kinds of plants I've seen resembling it.
Anyone have a clue?
May 12, 2010
Sat May 29th, 8am - noon
Annual Native Plant Sale
Waterloo-Wellington Wildflower Society (WWWS)
21 College Ave West, Guelph Ontario
Plants can be dropped off Friday May 28 or bring them early Saturday morning. Please label your plants with common and scientific name. Native plants only please. Also, they need some volunteers both Friday night from 6-8 to set up and Saturday morning from 8-12 to help with set up and selling.
April 16, 2010
Lambton Wildlife Inc.'s Native Plant Sale
1267 Lakeshore Road, Sarnia, Lambton County
Money from the plant sale goes to saving and purchasing environmentally sensitive land sites in Lambton County. Organizer: Brenda Kulon 869-2833
Sat. May 8th 10am - 3pm
North American Native Plant Society's (NANPS) Plant Sale
101 Town Centre Blvd. Markham (Hwy 7 & Warden Ave).
See the plant list here. Advanced orders now closed = get there early!
"Canada's largest native plant sale and series of talks to help aid home gardeners. Hundreds of native plants available. All plants come from NANPS approved ethical growers. Also find hundreds of books on related topics". Free presentations too:
11:30 a.m. - Rachel Gagnon from the Ontario Invasive Plant Council: ‘Identifying and Controlling Invasive Plants’
12:30 p.m. - Gavin Trevelyan from Tallgrass Ontario: ‘Prairie Plants for Your Garden’
Sun May 9th, 11am -2pm
High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program's Native Plant Sale
At the High Park Greenhouse, Toronto. To volunteer or for questions, pls contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-392-1748 extension 1. For info about their plants, see this great info piece from last year.
Sat May 15th, Noon-4pm
Leslieville Tree Festival (and native plant sale)
Leslie Grove Park, Queen St East and Jones Ave, Toronto
2010 opening days for just few southern Ontario native plant nurseries with public retail hours:
- Sat Apr 24th: Acorus (Walsingham, Norfolk County) Weds to Sunday 10-5pm
- Mon Apr 26th: Grand Moraine Growers (near Fergus) Mon - Sat, 9am - 5pm, closed Sundays & holidays
- Fri. May 7th: Evergreen Gardens opens at the Brick Works (Toronto). 9am–6pm, 7 days a week
- Mon May 10th: Nith River Native Plants (near New Hamburg / Waterloo) 9am - 3pm
- Sat May 15th: Native Plants in Claremont (N. of Pickering) Mon - Fri 10am - 3pm, Sat & Sun: 10am - 4pm
Also: Grow Wild! Native Plant Nursery (near Claremont / North of Pickering; and Omemee near Peterborough) is open now. Owner Paul Heydon says that while they won't have regular public retail nursery hours again until they've completed their move to Omemee near Peterborough, folks are already phoning in their orders and picking them up. Check out Grow Wild's online catalogue (some really gorgeous native flowers in there) and call Paul at (416) 735-7490 to order. Carries plants indigenous to Toronto, southern and central Ontario.
Trees Ontario and the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) announce their 2010 Certified Seed Collector Workshops. This program is dedicated to increasing the supply of locally adapted seed of native woody species for planting in Ontario. Registration is limited and open now.
Naturalizing and Restoring Urban Gardens - U of Guelph's new Sustainable Urban Horticulture certificate program
Registration open now in U of Guelph's online distance education's "Naturalizing and Restoring Urban Gardens". It's part of their new Sustainable Urban Horticulture certificate program.
Since it's a new course in a new program, I only know as much as you do... except that I took a similar continuing ed course there (the Naturalized Landscape course, currently not offered, as part of their Sustainable Horticulture certificate program) and it was worth it. Decide for yourself... and then let me know how it went?
April 14, 2010
-Ralph Waldo Emerson.
In corollary, every year while i anticipate and watch the arrival of spring's first plants, I wonder how I can perennially wonder so much.
Sightings Sunday and Monday April 11th and 12th:
In the woods and forested ravines:
- carpets - not in bloom but leafed out: trout lily, wild leek, Virginia waterleaf
- colonies - wild ginger and bloodroot in bloom, Mayapples leafing out
- small clumps and scatterings - red trilliums in early bloom; squirrel corn (a Dicentra similar to Dutchmen's breeches) is leafed out looking like muted silvery highlights. Visible still leafing-out scatterings: false solomon's seal, red and white baneberry, downy yellow violet, big leaved asters and zig-zag goldenrod (those latter two won't even bloom until late summer, so i find it interesting to know they begin their leaves so early / come out to catch such early sunlight)
- Red elderberry aka Red-berried elder Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens (S. pubens) flowers just arriving.
Along the Lake Ontario shoreline and bluffs:
on a coastal shoreline at the toe of Scarborough bluffs. It's also a
suggested indigenous plant for a Green Roofs in Toronto (TRCA)
- in bloom - buffalo berry/soapberry (note: in conventional horticulture, you'll see varieties of it called Russet Buffalo berry. BTW: Silver buffalo berry Shepherdia argentea is NOT native here), wild strawberry and pussy willows (yup, i just wrote "pussy willows" like i am 10 years old. i already own a well-field-worn copy of the ROM's Shrubs of Ontario, and as singularly indispensable and illuminating as it has been for my native shrub IDs, it's only given me less confidence in my ability to distinguish Salix species)
- silverweed leafing out
- horsetails sporing
- exotic Coltstfoot in bloom. no surprise: it's always the 1st early flower i see along the lake. it guides into warmer shoreline pockets and exposed steep sloped till and clay niches. and always makes me wonder what used to fill those microclimates / niches?
I also notice that the squirrels have officially naturalized Scillia into every garden bed i tend. i don't quite know what to make of that. i mean, i don't have native Spring Beauty plants to replace them with. Squirrels. those little tricksters. Gardening: to be at the mercy of the designs of squirrels. I trust the ants so much more than the squirrels...
Red maples have been in bloom for a few days, in yellow and red flowers (so are the invasive Norway maples: those greenish-yellow flowers on so many street trees right now. Soon they'll leaf out earlier and more densely than our native maples, their dense shade depriving our spring woodland ephemerals and understorey shrubs of sunlight).
Just noticed Poplar catkins in bloom this morning along the lakeshore: including cottonwoods, balsam poplars & trembling aspen.
- Should also be able to find our locally uncommon Spicebush Lindera Benzoin in bloom right now in High Park. I plan on buying a few this year for my woodland garden beds.
- In GTA naturalized areas such as the Brick Works, Fragrant Sumach Rhus aromatica shrubs and Redbud Cercis canadensis (small trees with pink-purple legume flowers) are both grown out of range (native to southern Ontario, but not to GTA), and should be in bloom soon if not already.
April 10, 2010
Here in my garden near the lake in Toronto, Sharp-lobed Hepatica began blooming on April 2nd this year. Wild Ginger blooms began the same day too. The crimson petal tips of my Red Trillium have also been showing, but haven't opened yet. Expecting bloodroot to open tomorrow. Just about all the spring woodland ephemerals in my garden are either crowned or leafing out.
It's an early spring this year.
But at this point anything could happen: from +23c last week to -1 and snowflakes last night. The possibility of repeated freeze-thaws makes me edgy. Makes me anxious for the plants and insects ... craziness, like imagining bundling them in tailor-fitted knitted wool cozies :), or covering the newly germinated fragile green (hepatica? wild blue phlox? downy-yellow violet? The local ants have their own garden design plans i'm not privy to) in cloches (but not going to do that either: maybe i'm an field grown purist? i know i like my plants to be road-tested / grown in the realities of my yard's climate, weather). So, instead, I'm keeping all the leaves and mulch on the ground as is (besides, putting those in yard waste bags to be hauled away is effectively like removing your soil, its biota and plant nutrition from your land) and even leaving up last autumn's hollow stems for any insects still finding refuge or developing in there, and, mentally crossing-my-fingers against any killer frosts.
April 1, 2010
Most of the events I post are related to stewardship and native plant events in the GTA (and a few obvious happy-places of mine in Southwestern Ontario too). But truth is, in the GTA, let alone Southern Ontario, there are a lot more excellent local stewardship and native plant gardening events to discover.
TIP: if you're looking for your local stewardship groups and events, try drilling through these links:
- Toronto Green groups by Watershed
Nature – member groups by region Ontario
– Big Picture Network, groups by region Canada
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
-Frank Lloyd Wright
March 31, 2010
The question is not 'can you make a difference?' You already do make a difference. It's just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make, during your life on this planet.
– Julia Butterfly Hill
- Nature Conservancy of Canada Conservation Volunteers program
- Carden Nature Festival
- Ontario Nature’s Volunteer for Nature Events (the reptile and amphibian event at Kinghurst Forest looks awesome!!)
- LEAF Tree Tenders Training
- Carolinian Canada & Ontario Nature, Exploring our Watersheds, Forum & AGM 2010, May 28th-30th, 2010. Lambton College & Inn, Sarnia. Early bird deadline April 15th.
- Attention Community Gardens in Toronto: until April 30, 2010,the Ontario Solar Academy www.solaracademy.ca is donating time to visit community gardens in Toronto and do an analysis of your power needs, to help you get off-grid power for your community garden. (e.g. lighting, fountains, electricity source for power tools etc) For details or how to get on the list, please see this page on the Toronto Community Garden Network (TCGN)
Shelby Woods Park Monthly Stewardship, Mississauga
Join Evergreen and the City of Mississauga in our monthy stewardship event at Shelby Woods Park. Everyone is welcome! Activities will include: removal of invasive species, mulching, litter pick-up and some monitoring. Join in for the whole season, or come out for one night! Shelby Woods Park is located near the intersection of Rathburn Road E and Willowbank Trail, behind John Cabot S.S. Park in the lot behind the highschool and meet outside the gates to the park. Please RSVP to: Emily Adam, Stewardship Coordinator, 416-596-1495 ext. 303, email@example.com
Thurs Apr 29th
Rouge Park Wildflowers & Nature.
More info at the Toronto Field Naturalists’ Walks site
Field Botanists of Ontario announce their Field Trips to the public around late April-May. Members are already getting first crack, and it's a good list of trips. It doesn't cost much to join, and it's worth it for the newsletters alone.
Sat May 1st, 1:30 pm
Norfolk Field Naturalists Outing: Ecological Restoration Site Walkabout
Come for a spring walkabout at an ecological restoration site adjacent to Backus Woods. The former agricultural fields at this rural property have being planted with a variety of trees and plants and are providing diverse habitat for many wildlife species. Meet at the gate at #338 Highway 24, 2.4 km east of Highway 59 (east of Backus Woods parking lot). Contact Audrey Heagy at 519-586-9464.
Sat May 1st, 9AM
Greening Norfolk County II
Nature Conservancy of Canada Conservation Volunteers
Port Rowan, ON
Help NCC green Norfolk County! For the second year in a row, volunteers can spend the day planting trees to help restore part of this property from former agricultural land back to its natural state. This property is located in the Southern Norfolk Sand Plain, an area with the highest level of intact forest cover in southwestern Ontario that provides a critical stopover site for migratory landbirds and waterbirds. By planting trees, you’ll assist in building ecological connections to other nearby NCC properties. Species at Risk that will benefit from this restoration project include Hooded Warbler and Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. Pre-register.
May 2nd 2010, 2:30PM
The Appalachians and Their Margins
TFN monthly lecture presented by Peter Money, TFN member, retired geologist.
March 17, 2010
Silver Maples Acer saccharinum can have both sexes on the same tree. The red flowers in the foreground are female. The "pom-pom" looking flowers on the right are male and loaded with pollen. If you look close (or click on the pic) you can see the male's yellow pollen grains have already been wind blown onto the female flowers.
Most of my street's trees are mature Silver Maples. Just sitting on my front porch, I can see at least a dozen 100-year-old-big Silver Maples currently in bloom, so it's looking very "birds do it, bees do it, the flowers and the trees do it" randy-in-the-skies to me right now.
They're not the only mating game going on this early in the season: I saw a female squirrel eating the Silver Maples' flower buds. She needs their early nutrition: she already has her whitish patchy "jacket" on. It's not mange, it's motherhood. She's already mated and plucked fur from her upper body to insulate her and her brood's nest.
Silver Maple are early bloomers. Before the Red Maples. Although the two bloom periods do overlap and naturally cross to become what's called Swamp Maple aka Freeman Maple Acer x fremmanii. They're trying them now up the street from here, say they're less brittle. I'm thinking about getting one for my neighbourhood park.
Here in southern Ontario, our earliest native blooms open in this order:
1. Skunk Cabbage
2. Silver Maples
3. Harbingers-of-Spring Erigenia bulbosa (rare)
4. Spring Beauty
5. then a blur of hepatica (see comments), ginger, trout lily, toothwort, bloodroot, dwarf ginseng and foamflower. I still can't figure out their order because at exactly "spring woodland ephemeral" time, I'm usually happily hiking all over southern Ontario between places where the bloom times might be different by five days.
I'm grateful to whoever chose to plant my street with Silver Maples. I know they were a popular street tree all over the city ("were" = now some of the urban forestry and hydro guys complain that they overmature too fast, are too brittle, drop limbs, too much debris), but they're especially appropriate to this area, and what it was: the backwater of the former Ashbridges Bay, Lake Ontario. Despite the area since being landfilled, these trees are appropriate to what this area's buried soils and gullies and hydrology and high water table still are. "Silver maple appears as a dominant species only in streamside communities or on the fringes of lakes or backwaters of streams. Occasionally it is found in swamps, gullies, and small depressions of slow drainage. Though it generally cannot compete with other species in upland environments, silver maple seedlings are adapted to survive long periods of inundation in bottom lands, where flooding is one of the factors that determine the makeup of individual stands..." Read the source of that quote here, it's a good one. Just how water-edge adapted are Silver Maples? Check out this pic (above right) from U of Wisconsin's Herbarium.
The Silver Maples' second act is the helicopter show. All June long. Yup. Tip: if your garden is already well mulched w/ leaves and wood chip or bark mulch, most of the keys will just decompose to become mulch themselves. Then later i just pull out any seedlings that did germinate.
Silver Maples' third act? A subtle sleeper: a breezy, big and balmy, sweet summer song.
It took me years to recognize it, but the sound of warm summer winds swirling around the leaves of big old Silver Maple is one my best childhood memories. Especially in concert with the leaves of willows and cottonwoods. All shoreline species. If you don't know those sounds, come a warm day in summer, they're worth a listen.
Myself, I'm so used to hearing all of those leaves along water edges and shorelines -- creek, riverbank, bay, beach -- on cue I can imagine a common concurrent sound: the slow rhythm of waves: crestfall or gentler lick-and-lap. Pause. Swash back out. repeat.
Sometimes even now, when I'm in those sounds, for split seconds I am 3, 5, 9, 12 or 15 (often all-of-them-at-once), sun/mud/silt-browned, forearms sparkled with sand, my barefoot and bathing suited body is small and close to the ground, running along southwestern Ontario water edges and shorelines. The wind smells of small fires, fish (pickerel, perch, catfish, sunfish and the throw-'em-back sheephead: unless we kept the "j" stones / otoliths from behind their eyes for good luck) and some times charcoal from a hibatchi BBQ. Salamanders, turtles, muskrats were common sights.
Cool ground on my back when I'd lay down under those trees, those leaves, half closing my eyes so i could look up into the changing blurs of dappled sunlight. What a lullabye that seems now.
Funny now, how I had to move all the way to this street in Toronto, to learn for the first time that "Silver Maples" was the name for a windsong I had already always known.
February 16, 2010
This is a Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum. Really.
You've likely seen Boneset before, maybe in a meadow, moist prairie, shoreline, a roadside depression, or perhaps in native plant gardens ...often alongside its Eupatorium cousin Joe-Pye weed in late summer. If so, you already know the most distinguishing characteristic about a Boneset is its alternating *pairs* of leaves: two opposite leaves joined at the base perforated by the stem (hence the epithet / species name perfoliatum) aka "connate" leaves. That's right: Bonesets have pairs of leaves. But the youngster in these pictures? He was having none of that, instead he just kept unfurling leaves in *trios*.
What's the botanical term for "aberration"? When a plant deviates from the usual? i think the word i'm looking for is "atypical" or is it "aberrant"? The phrase seems to be "conversation starter."
What ever the terminology, this plant was a maverick. It appeared suddenly one year, out of a large existing clump of Boneset in my back yard, and though that clump is still alive and happy, this 3-leaver never reappeared. Or at least it never appeared with the "3 leaf" thing the following year. BTW: after it bloomed, I sowed its seeds, but I've had nothing like it since.
I've tried looking it up, but I never found images or accounts of another occurrence. To this day i still don't know what to make of it.
Do you? Myself, I've thought 1) more leaves = more photosynthesis & that could be an advantageous adaption, or not. 2) wonders wrought by post-landfill urban soil or possible contamination along the railroad tracks where i initially collected the seed from -- anything is those soils act like some kind of plant mutation catalysts? and 3) just, wow: evolution, it's always happening, never complacent, never a day off.
i know i miss the way that just seeing this guy in my yard every day often made me laugh to myself in a "Mother nature - you funny!" kinda way. Especially whenever i casually swept my hand toward him by way of introduction to native plant gardener friends -- who were inevitably just as surprised, put-to-wonder, and left smiling by this cowboy too.
February 15, 2010
A few announcements and upcoming events:
Mon, February 22nd, 7:30 PM
Rare Woody Plants Of Ontario
Sarnia and Area
Sean Fox, Arboretum Manager, University of Guelph Arboretum, will talk about the threatened and endangered trees and shrubs in Ontario, particularly in Southern Ontario. The Arboretum has a number of significant projects, including a mature seed orchard and an extensive gene bank. There is a lot of discussion about protecting endangered animals, but they rely on the health of the habitat provided by trees and shrubs. This is an Indoor Event. Indoor Chair: Krista Cowieson (519-869-6483) Meeting are held the last Monday of the month at 7:30pm Where: YMCA Careers & Learning Centre, 660 Oakdale Ave., Sarnia ( just north of the 402, east of Colborne Rd., off Guthrie Dr. W. and Court St. ) Guest are welcome
Weds Feb 24th, 7:30 pm
What's Native, What's Not - Understanding the connection between plants, our environment and ourselves
Essex, Essex County.
Kinsmen Field House on Fairview Avenue
The Essex & District Horticultural Society will present their guest speaker, Dan Bissonnette of The Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County & Windsor.This new presentation will explore the comparisons between native and non-native plants, cultivars and hybrids, as well as our perceptions toward them and how our decisions as gardeners can affect the environment as a whole.
Now accepting registrations!
The Naturalized Landscape Course
The Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County & Windsor
"This adult evening course, which has benefited over 600 area residents, provides the best of traditional landscape concepts with an emphasis on planning and design. In addition, we offer insights on using native plants, attracting wildlife and creating a landscape that is suited to your needs. All levels of landscaping experience are welcome, from beginners to advanced. The cost of registration is $50, tax exempt. Each course is offered on a weekly basis, over a period of six weeks. All classes begin at 7:00 PM and typically last about 2 hours. This year, we are offering this course at three locations:May 1st
Beginning Monday, March 8 – Windsor
Beginning Tuesday, March 9 – Amherstburg
Beginning Wednesday, March 10 - Leamington
Most classes are limited to an average size of 18 people, so advanced registration is required. To register or find out more, call us at 519-259-2407"
Native Plant Sale
1276 Lakeshore Rd, Sarnia
Attract birds and butterflies to your yard by planting native wildflowers.
Carolinian Canada Forum 2010
Exploring our Watersheds
Carolinian Canada & Ontario Nature
Lambton College, Sarnia, Ontario
Partners: Carolinian Canada Coalition, Ontario Nature, Lambton Wildlife Inc., Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee, Friends of Pinery Park, Sydenham Field Naturalists.
- Coastal Greenways / Big Picture in Carolinian Canada
- Species at risk in aquatic ecosystems and watersheds
- Social Marketing
- The Green Economy & Climate Change
- Conservation Action Planning – Recovery Update
- Policy & Planning Sessions
- indoor sessions and workshops
- Natural Highlights of Sarnia-Lambton and North Kent County: virtual tour of three watersheds, Ausable, St. Clair and Sydenham Rivers; sponsored cruise of the St. Clair River; tours of Walpole Island, the Ausable River at Rock Glen and Pinery Provincial Park and constructed wetlands along the Sydenham River
The network has also published the following resources:
- The Naturalized Gardener's Handbook for Windsor & Essex County
- The Native Seed Identification & Cultivation Guide for Southern Ontario
February 14, 2010
For folks interested in how rural agriculture + natural heritage restoration / conservation can support each other, and profitably too, well, i keep directing my out-of-town friends over to the Norfolk Alternative Land Use Service Pilot Project (ALUS).
Currently I only know of ALUS in Norfolk County Ontario (as i like to say, "they have a mature stewardship culture there"), but i like to hope ALUS will become an Ontario-wide Alliance. Especially since, as that page says, "the vast majority of land in southern Ontario is owned by farmers, especially in the Carolinian zone where 97% of land is maintained by farmers."
To get a feel for the kind of innovative stewardship work they’re doing, this page lists some of what's going on ALUS's demonstration farms.
No, really. Click through that last link. There are some cool, exciting and encouraging stewardship initiatives in there I haven't heard or read about anywhere else. For example: "1.39 acres of pollinator habitat in the form of Pollinator Hedgerows - perhaps the most groundbreaking effort of the Norfolk Pilot, the pollinator hedgerow is aimed at finding solutions to restore populations of native pollinators.”
Also, if you (or any of your friends with rural farm properties or stewardship projects) want to learn more about ALUS, here’s an upcoming opportunity:
Friday, March 26th 2010
9:30 am -3:30 pm
ALUS and Ontario's Climate Change Policy: Where does ALUS fit, and why?
Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs in Guelph, Ontario
The steering committee of the Ontario Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) Alliance would like to invite you to attend “ALUS and Ontario’s Climate Change Policy: Where does ALUS fit, and why?” information session. The session will discuss the role of ALUS in the new world of climate change and carbon markets and will focus on how the ALUS Alliance can work within the new policy context of Ontario to make ALUS a provincial program.
The Ontario ALUS Alliance meeting is a free, all day event. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. The event agenda will be posted shortly on the Norfolk ALUS website http://www.norfolkalus.com so please visit for more details.
Registration is required and will be on a first come first serve basis. To register, contact Kristen Thompson, ALUS Project Coordinator at (519) 426-5999 ext: 2220 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include any dietary restrictions.
LMAO! i already want to make a poster like this for, well, an AWESOME local White Elm i know -- hey, who can afford an "official plaque" or "didactic panel" these days?
i wish i knew who to credit this poster and photo to - it's like a local 'natural heritage appreciation' campaign waiting to go viral ;)
February 12, 2010
The Society for Ecological Restoration – Ontario Chapter (SERO) has just posted revised editions of their Native Plant Buyers and Growers guidelines.
For buyers and growers: it's informative and insightful. And for what it's worth, I trust SERO and they've never let me down.
For everyone currently struggling for direction, sustainable standards and policy in a changing industry? (And, yes, this is an appeal to you folks who plan on attending next week's Sustainable Hort. Symposium). Please check out these guidelines. Good, talented folks here in Ontario have contributed (volunteered) years of their time and experience to build the most well-thought-out and practical standards that exist on this subject, any where.
BTW: SERO's working on its 2010 Native Plant Resource Guide. More details to come!
February 11, 2010
This is a shout out to you U of Guelph Hort Cert. students who've been dropping in lately. Thanks for coming by and hope you're having a blast in your courses!
I took the "Naturalized Landscape" course in the Sustainable Landscapes Certificate a few years back. Learned a lot! Still use the materials for reference. Donna Havinga taught it back then. She and Jean Marc-Diagle wrote the text, and Lorraine Johnson edited it (the text book alone was worth every penny. I don't think you can buy the textbook outside of the course). It was one of the best courses I've ever been in. Assignments were practical and focused on each person's bio-region. Also, it was my 1st time as a student in an online learning /distance education format and as it turned out, the medium and flexibility really worked for me. And so did the fact that i had to concurrently learn how to independently suss out and get handy with online resources - skills in themselves which remain useful. And i loved Donna as an instructor too.
The text book was based on Donna's and Jean-Marc's earlier book "Restoring Nature's Place" (revised edition 2000. it's a must read in Ontario, and endorsed by the Society for Ecological Restoration International). It's become increasingly difficult to find (even in libraries), but if you're interested, you might still be able to buy copies for approx. $40 + $8 shipping and handling, by contacting Ecological Outlook at 905-939-8498, toll free 1-877-467-2079 or email@example.com
oh, hey - is the online "coffee shop" still there? I missed that patch-of-ether when the course ended. Coincidentally, i just got an email from a native plant geek friend I met in there. :)
BTW: if you have criticism or suggestions for this site, pls lemme know. Thanks again, and good luck w/ your assignments!
January 2, 2010
See "Phragmites: Common Reed - Morphological differences between native and introduced genotypes" at Cornell's Biological Control Program
2. ...native American bittersweet vine Celastrus scandens and the invasive exotic oriental bittersweet C. orbiculatus?
"Using fruit and leaf characters, the two species can be discriminated from each other. However, certain traits are more reliable for correct identification than others. Classically, the position of the fruit and flowers on the stems has been cited as the most definitive means of discriminating between the species. Oriental bittersweet has fruit and flowers located in the leaf axils along the length of the stem. American bittersweet, however, only has fruit and flowers in terminal clusters. There is also a difference in the color of the capsules surrounding the ripened fruit in the fall. Oriental bittersweet has yellow capsules, while those of American bittersweet are orange. Another difference in color is the pollen color of the male flowers. The pollen of oriental bittersweet is white while that of American bittersweet is yellow..." - American and Oriental Bittersweet Identification - the US Geological Service's Great Lakes Centre Note: along a couple southwestern Ontario roadsides, I found both species side by side + the hybrid species of the two. So I couldn't even seed collect from the native species, because of the possibility the flowers had been cross-pollinated / its seeds would be hybrids.
3. ...native eastern Wahoo Euonymus atropurpurea vs. the invasive exotic winged burning bush E. alata, climbing euonymus E. fortunei and spindle tree E. europaea?
Unfortunately, around here, it's probably the exotic -- I haven't stumbled by the real thing yet -- still to be sure (and you have to be because there are a few out there + some native plant nurseries sell them = some one's planting them some where) the best native vs invasive euonymus ID advice I've found is on page 123 of “Growing Trees from Seed - A Practical Guide to Growing Native Trees, Vines and Shrubs" by Henry Kock with Paul Aird, John Ambrose and Gerald Waldron:
European spindle tree E. europaea [exotic]: the identification of this close relative of E. atropurpurea can only be made with certainty at flowering time. The European species has greenish white flowers in late May as compared to the maroon flowers (in June) of the native wahoo. The European spindle tree holds its leaves much longer into the fall, and the twigs tend to be thicker and more rigid than wahoo. However, due to variability in both species, the two are occasionally so similar vegetatively (including the root sprouting) that without knowledge of the flowers, the nearly identical fruit should be left alone – or the flower colour should be verified in late May.
Winged burning bush E. alata [exotic]: A dense, outward-arching bush originating in Japan. It has small orange fruits on short stems that persist into the winter. Twigs on this species are prominently four winged, a characteristic that is more diminutive on a more compact-growing horticultural cultivar but still gives this species a distinctly square-stemmed appearance.
...[Besides these] two 'ornamental' deciduous shrubs that ...have become naturalized (extensively in many places) in close proximity to older settlements and parks ...garden escapees of the evergreen-leaved Euonymus fortunei [exotic climbing euonymus aka wintercreeper] are also beginning to find their way into the wild."
December 26, 2009
Earlier this year, in an Aliens-L list serve post, Randy Westbrooks recommended "Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900" as "a ‘must read’ for anyone who works on invasive species."
So I bought it. Now, I'm nearly finished reading it, and he's right. (But what else would I expect: invasion ecology isn't just science, it's sociology and culture and story, and if you've ever talked with Randy Westbrooks or heard him speak, you know that he "gets" story.)
It's helping me understand our current invasive issues + what was, and what's still left of, our natural heritage, in ecological, biogeographical, biopolitical, historical and social contexts.
With memorable examples and well-researched historical accounts I haven't come across anywhere before.
Personally, I especially appreciated any of the historic records of natural and ethnobotanical vegetation in eastern North America at the earliest points of first European contact.
First written in 1986, with a new edition in 2004, this book reminds me of the quote: "The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones." - Joseph Joubert
If you're interested in invasion ecology and natural heritage -- or if you liked Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" or Ronald Wright's "Stolen Continents -- you'll appreciate this one.
December 24, 2009
"British Novelist Jeanette Winterson commented: They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it? Though written centuries earlier Francis Bacon has a response: Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand—and melting like a snowflake..."
-David DeFranza, The Unbelievable World of Snowflakes
December 23, 2009
Henry Kock's "Growing Trees from Seed - A practical guide to growing native trees, vines and shrubs"
If you even think you're interested, buy it.
To find out more please see the book's website.
I've just finished collecting some of the later seeds from my Shrubby St. John's-wort (I agree with the book: these are "lovely shrubs ...deserving more use in sunny yards, including edge of pools and stream gardens"), and with them I marked the end of my first year with this book. It has taken me that long to read it simply because it takes at least all four seasons to observe what it has to teach, not just about seed collection & propagation, but professional and personal lifetimes' worth of growing, conserving, observing and educating people about our native trees and many of our shrubs too. Most of it was new to me.
The first few chapters are treasures of practical and experienced seed collecting, propagation and even restoration advice. Next, specific advice about collecting and propagating by family and species. All the while, the handy reference charts at the back of the book show you month-by-month which species' mature seeds you can expect to find and their stratification protocols.
I began to read what I could already use and understand late last fall. For the 1st time in my life, I realized that the phrase "instant classic" could even be trusted. By summer it wasn't a book or a manual or even a guide so much as a wise, warm and gentle field companion. Like walking land with an extra set of the finest tuned eyes. I love how intuitively organized and accessible this book's format is, and its unmistakable voice too: like the best teachers, it doesn't care about what it 'knows' as much as presenting information and guidance in ways that will enable the reader to learn. And it knows what you want (and need) to learn, even before you do :) After awhile I had to laugh each time it inevitably anticipated and answered my questions while I was still fumbling to formulate them!
I was especially grateful each time it anticipated any confusion I would have about similar and introduced species and hybrids. Not that it's a beginner tree ID guide (I still needed those. If you do too: see native plant ID links in the right side bar. Also, after basic ID guides, Gerry Waldron's Trees of the Carolinian Forest: A Guide to Species, Their Ecology and Uses is an especially apt companion to this book), but it is uniquely helpful for fine scale ID.
To the family and friends of the late Henry Kock, co-authors and editors Paul Aird, John Ambrose and Gerald Waldron and all the good people who helped complete, fund, support and steward this important book into being: I hope you will always know you have given us all a gift that can't be measured. *thank you*.