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Kate's Blog

Jun 17

Moving into a  new subdivision? Here’s why it is so vital you plant native trees

Picture yourself as a bird. A chickadee. Proud parent of half a dozen nestlings. You have a territory - an area with a radius of about 50 metres that you defend from others of your species to get first dibs on resources. You have a job - to work with your mate to get food to your chicks. It’s a challenge.

Many may think of you as a seed and  berry eater. But for chickadee nestlings, seeds are of no interest. These youngsters need protein! And that comes from insects. Ninety-six per cent of terrestrial birds rear their young on insects. The best source of protein is  caterpillars - the larvae of moths, butterflies and sawflies.

Back and forth, back and forth. You and your mate work from dawn to dusk to satisfy the chicks’ voracious appetite. How much do they eat? Doug Tallamy, professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, parked himself by a chickadee nest and counted.

He found the pair delivered food every three minutes. Once, they delivered 30 caterpillars in 27 minutes. They foraged from 6 am to 8 pm. He figured they delivered 390-570 caterpillars a day. The chicks spent 16-18 days in the nest. Just getting the young to a point where they can leave the nest takes 6,240-9,120 caterpillars!

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Apr 22

Out of time - the Osage Orange

My Osage Orange seedlings are reaching upwards – only 15 cm tall, but with straight and slender stems and leaves that are a wonderfully green shade of green. I still bring them inside at night in case of a frost attack, and protect them from the brightest sun and harshest wind, but they are clearly unfazed by temperature swings that have dipped close to freezing recently.

Happy seedlings, I’d say, welcoming spring.

They give no sign of being stranded in our world long beyond their time, 10,000 years after their biological partners disappeared into extinction. The fruit of the Osage Orange is huge – 10 to 15 cm in diameter, several pounds in weight – designed for big mouths and big guts, belonging to the likes of mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, camels, giant sloths and shrub oxen.

Other trees engineered by nature in her complexity to appeal to such creatures include Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Avocado, and Pawpaw. The extinction of North America’s megafauna meant that these trees with supersized fruit no longer had natural dispersal agents. The fruit fell next to the parent tree and rotted. Their range shrank.

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Apr 22

Opening Day: Thursday May 16

The Return of the Native nursery will open at 10 am, Thursday May 16 2019. For the rest of May and all of June, our hours will be 10 am to 4 pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Open any time by appointment. Call 705-322-2545 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

CLOSED SATURDAY JUNE 22 FOR TINY MARSH BIOBLITZ. 

Orders can be placed before Opening Day and plants will be set aside if paid for in advance. 

All plants are potted and hardy in the Huronia area. Most are grown from seed at the ROTN nursery, where no pesticides or chemicals are used; some are sourced from other Ontario native plant propagators. The height cited at the beginning of each entry is what it can grow to in Huronia; the plant's present height, in the pot, is at the end of the description. Not all plants are availablle on Opening Day, as some are late starters and we work on nature's timetable without heated greenhouses.

Check this list for availability, additions, deletions. As the season gets underway, late starters will be flagged as 'not yet available.' 'New' means new to this list, not a newly created introduction to the plant world as those are not on offer here. 'Added' means available earlier or in other years and now back on the list. The list is updated daily as needed. However, as some quantities are limited, we could sell out of a species during the day, and the list would not yet reflect that. If you are coming from a distance, call 705-322-2545 before you set out, to be sure that we still have the plants you want.

Location : Just outside Elmvale, Ontario, inland from Georgian Bay, north of Barrie, east of Wasaga Beach, south of Midland, west of Orillia. See this map. The address is 1186 Flos Rd. 10. Elmvale ON L0L 1P0.