Kate's Blog

Jul 21

Support the CCIPR, help put a stop to invasive species

I have done my part, unintentionally, in making my yard a haven for alien invasive species.

I planted Periwinkle, having seen it looking pretty in local forests and thinking it a native “wildflower.” 

From nearby ditches, I dug up Dame’s Rocket and Bouncing Bet, locally known as wild phlox.

I planted variegated Bishop’s Goutweed. 

I planted Crown Vetch. 

I planted two Norway Maples. And two Amur Maples that I actually grew from seed purchased from the (now closed) Ontario Tree Seed Plant 20 years ago, at a time when the native status of a plant was not viewed as a critical consideration.

All these plants loved my place.

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Jul 21

Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee: this book's a winner!

There’s a small pile of books on a table by my desk - the writers are my go-to references for garden questions. Heather Holm, Doug Tallamy and the late Henry Koch are my guides, and of course Lorraine Johnson, whose 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants has been by my side since its publication in 1999.

Now Johnson, along with co-author York University professor Sheila Colla, has produced another winner: A Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee - Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators (Douglas & McIntyre) is a wonderful introduction to the world of our pollinating friends.

Like so many other insects, the Rusty-patched is a bee that was once abundant across eastern Canada and North America and is now in steep decline. In Canada, the last individual was found, by Colla, in 2009 at Pinery Provincial Park. In 2012 it had the “unfortunate distinction” of becoming the first native bee to be designated as endangered in Canada.
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May 16

15 plants that work for bees and other pollinators

I wrote this for the Tiny Cottager magazine, with a particular focus on the sandy conditions in which cottagers garden. There are many more great pollinator plants than the 15 in the downloadable list at the end of this article! But they are a good start. 

About 10 per cent of flowering plants are wind-pollinated but the overwhelming majority rely on insects for the process that results in fertilization, seed production and future generations. Bees are the essential pollinators, designed for the efficient transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another. 

There are more than 400 species of native bees in Ontario. Of these, only the 16 species of bumble bees live together in colonies. The rest are solitary bees, the female nesting in sparsely vegetated soil, hollow stems, twigs or wood cavities. Not being territorial, solitary bees are unlikely or not equipped to sting.

The European honey bee was introduced and competes with native bees for floral resources. It can sting, but won’t unless provoked.

Recent research indicates that the pollination role of moths, with their hairy underbellies, has been underestimated. Most moths are nocturnal. Artificial light at night adversely affects all insect populations, but especially moths. Butterflies tend to be incidental pollinators, only lightly contacting pollen when they sip up nectar. There are exceptions – one, cited by Heather Holm in Pollinators of Native Plants, is the Peck’s Skipper butterfly, the primary pollinator of Prairie Phlox. 
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