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May 1

A moving target: the pollinator-friendly plant list

We all love lists. As we click on a promising headline, we anticipate an easily digested scrap of knowledge – not too much information, not burdened with complexity, but knowledge nevertheless - simplified, ordered, finite, authoritative. Armed with a list, the gardener can face up with a measure of confidence to the bewildering array of choices in the seed catalogue or garden centre.

But watch out - not all lists are created equal. In fact, a study published in the journal BioScience in 2014 looked at lists of pollinator-friendly plants in the U.K., Canada and the U.S. and found surprising shortcomings and misinformation, both in the lists, and in plant labels that rely on them. One list, compiled by a government-funded organization called Natural England, was described as looking “very much as if it was put together late one Friday afternoon.”

A list is only as good as the data that has gone into it, the study authors point out, but surprisingly they found the empirical sources on which lists are based are almost never provided. The study found that many good pollinator plants were omitted while poor plants were sometimes recommended. Here’s the link: ‘Listmania: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Lists of Garden Plants to Help Pollinators’ by Mihail Garbuzov and Francis L. W. Ratnieks.
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Apr 21

Opening Day: Thursday May 11. nb: Credit Cards now accepted

Opening hours for May, June 2017: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. If you need to come before or after these hours, on or another day, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 705-322-2545, it can be arranged.
Payment: cash, cheque or credit card


Plant list
Apr 19

Bees and Ponds - two good reads

We’re lucky this year to have two really illuminating books arrive on two topics of vital interest to gardeners: the one, by Minnesota writer Heather Holm, on providing the conditions that will help our native bees flourish; the other, by Southern Ontario garden expert Robert Pavlis, about creating a pond that takes care of itself. Here are my reviews:

Bees - An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide by Heather Holm (2017 -paperback, 224pp – Pollination Press $29.95)

Holm’s second book is a tour de force, combining plant knowledge with an intimate understanding of the native bees of Eastern North America. While this is a beautifully produced publication with stunning photographs, it is Holm’s genius for organizing information in a way that’s clear and accessible that makes it especially valuable.
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