Return of the Native - About Us
Apr 9

Making new connections: it's what this nursery is about:

Gardens often speak to our earliest memories and we use them to reconnect with people and places we love. Just as we adorn our homes with photographs and mementoes of relatives and friends, so we give pride of place in our plantings to a flower that was mother’s favourite, or a shrub that was a familiar sight in some far off land. Which is why, often, the plants used are foreign to our Ontario landscape. Nevertheless, these alien plants spell home, both for immigrants and in many cases for those whose families have been here for generations, because culturally their roots are elsewhere, on continents where the sight or scent of lilac or tulips or peonies tugs at the heartstrings and brings comfort.

The problem is that, unlike our indoor space, our outdoors is home to others – to plants, birds, amphibians, insects, mammals that have evolved here together for millennia. It’s their only true home, and they need each other to create a food web that starts with micro-organisms in the soil and culminates in the raptor circling overhead.

But many of us have little emotional connection to the plants that are part of this ecosystem. Many of the plants have been dismissively named ‘weeds’ – as with Butterfly Weed, Milkweed, Ironweed, Joe Pye Weed, Sneezeweed (aka Helen’s Flower, mistakenly thought to cause hay fever), all of them magnificent with lovely flowering, but somehow demeaned when compared with the flowers of the English cottage garden or exotic offerings from Asia and South America. Never mind that the wealthy and fashionable in England and Europe went crazy for imported North American plants in the 18th and 19th centuries! Fortunately, fashion has cycled back to home soil and our native plants are now favoured here, where they belong.
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Mar 19


This year's opening hours are Fridays through Sundays 10 am to 4 pm from May 11 to June 30 2018. If you want to come earlier, later or on another day - just call 705-322-2545 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.!  In July, no fixed days for opening, call or email to be sure someone's here. Closed in August. Not open Saturday June 23 (come to the Tiny Marsh BioBlitz, I'll be there!)
Feb 15

Seed starting for beginners: it’s all about timing

Plant enthusiasts start their own seed for a variety of reasons – to get many plants for the price of a package, to grow rare or unusual varieties and, if you save your own seed, to give your plants the genetic advantage that comes as each generation adapts a little better to the conditions in your garden.

Growing from seed also fosters a more intimate relationship with your plants. You learn to recognize a species or variety immediately, no matter how young the seedling. This can be very helpful when weeding. Not all weeds are undesirable; they may be future prize specimens that happen to be crowding out something else you like – if you recognize them, you can move them to grow on elsewhere.

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to go with the easier plants. These are the ones that need only moisture, warmth and light to germinate and start growing.

Seedy Saturday in Innisfil: Don't miss it!

Among the natives, two good ones are Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpureum). The Anise Hysssop starts germinating within a few days, the Purple Coneflower gets going at about the 10-day mark. These are both truly lovely native plants that are also major pollinator pleasers, attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa) and Bee Balm (various species of Monarda) are also easy starters. Check my seed list for other warm germinators.
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