Return of the Native - About Us
Apr 20

Celebrate Spring in Wasaga Beach - plant sale May 25

The Wasaga Beach Horticultural Society is celebrating spring on Saturday May 25 at Oakview Woods (beside the Wasaga Beach RecPlex). I will be selling plants, along with another native plant grower - eARTh Revival. The event, which features a number of nature and conservation organizations, will run from 9am to 2 pm. 

FLAP

I will also have material to promote FLAP Canada, the Fatal Light Awareness Program, an organization that campaigns to curtail the danger of building collisions for birds. This is a cause that's close to my heart - migration is a perilous journey at the best of times, but our modern buildings and homes, with vast expanses of glass and window (including the "invisible glass railings" popular with cottagers) have ramped up the potential for danger.

That's because birds don't see glass. They're attracted to it if it's lit from within, or if it's reflecting nearby trees and vegetation, making it look as if inviting habitat is just a wingbeat away. The collision is most often fatal. FLAP promotes the use of decals, tape or nettig on the outside of windows. Gaps between window markings should not exceed 5 cm by 5 cm (2 inches by 2 inches). If gaps are any larger, birds may try to fly through them and still hit the window. More information: BirdSafe
Jan 12

Start two fabulous natives from seed

As the snow swirls outside, I hear you say, it’s way too early to think about seed. But consider this - there are treasures resting under the snow, awaiting the call of spring. To remind you of what lies ahead, this is a video from the Pollinator Garden at the Jonesville Allotments in Toronto, where I have a friend who labours with others in the front lines of nature recovery. Lovely photography matched with beautiful music.

You can get a head start in readying some of those treasures for spring a touch earlier in the season. There’s nothing more joy-inspiring than little green shoots pushing their way upwards while the snow is swirling outside! And it will become a relationship. Once the true leaves appear (not the first two, which look the same for most seeds) and you follow the seedling’s development close up, you remember. It’s a great way to learn plant identification.

The advantage of growing from seed is that you have access to the harder-to-find plants. The advantage of starting sooner is that you have more mature plants that will have a chance of flowering this year. A perennial isn’t in a hurry in the way an annual is. It has years to mature, flower and set seed. An annual has to get all that done in one season. So a perennial is slow to grow, and some are very slow indeed.
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Dec 11

Kinglets: tiny and fascinating

It was while researching gardening for butterflies and moths recently that I was reminded of the story of the Golden-crowned Kinglet, Regulus (little king) satrapa (governor), an olive-grey bird named for its brightly coloured crest - orange in the male, yellow in the female.

What a fascinating little bird it is!

The first amazing thing about the kinglet is that it’s so tiny, our smallest songbird. It weighs in at 5 grams - not much more than a quarter - and is half the body size of a chickadee. Which leads us to the second amazing thing: it eats only insects, but unlike most insectivorous birds it does not migrate - so how does it live through our punishing winters?

The third amazing thing is that even given an adequate winter insect diet, it seems physically impossible that it would be able to eat enough to carry it through a long winter night. That’s because its very small size means that the ratio of exterior exposure to heat loss versus inner body mass to store heat is higher than that of other birds.
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