Snowdrops in the spring garden.

Spring gets sprung with the thermometer molecule

Ever wonder how plants know when to start growing again in the spring? We know that temperature and light have something to do with it. Well, scientists led by the University of Cambridge have discovered the real mechanics behind what stimulates plant growth: a ‘thermometer’ molecule. Science Daily reported October, 2016, that: ” Researchers have revealed…

A dramatic container planting filled with tropical plants and succulents.

Idea starters for creative container plantings

I’m feeling the need to get creative with some fresh container planting ideas. This may have something to do with the fact that the weather right now is…(fill in your choice of expletive here). We’re already well into April but winter is continuing to be annoying, flinging snow, rain and hail all over southwestern Ontario.…

Hyacinth bulbs in glass vase with glass beads.

Light up spring bulbs

When spring seems to be taking forever to arrive, I take matters into my own hands and add a few pots of flowering spring bulbs to the kitchen windowsill. But I’ve never been keen on those sad plastic pots filled with sodden potting soil. Here’s an easy trick for making spring bulbs light up with…

Mauve lilac

In praise of Lilacs

Busting out in sumptuous clumps of intoxicatingly scented blooms, lilacs are sensational plants. So why are they so unloved? Just Google “lilacs bad luck” and you’ll find all kinds of lore about how bringing lilacs into the house is not good and wearing a sprig of them can be even worse. Then there are the…

Weed in lawn

5 ways to love your dandelions

Is it just me or did all the dandelions in the universe just invade our gardens overnight? The battle is on but it doesn’t have to be horrific–especially if you take a different tactic than the usual OBLITERATE THEM ALL. Here are some timely reasons for putting down the pesticides and making dandelions our co-conspirators…

Home page NatureWatch

Hey, Citizen Scientist! Observe that dandelion.

Before you mow down or dig up those dandelions, write down the date they started blooming! That’s what NatureWatch is hoping you’ll do. By asking ordinary people like you and me to become Citizen Scientists and participate in some easy environmental monitoring programs, they hope the combined research will help track the rapid changes in Canada’s…

Magnolia blossoms

Bartender, I’ll have a Magnolia, please!

Magnolias in bloom always put me in the mood for swishy dresses, Champagne cocktails and sultry jazz played on a record player. I even get the urge to break out in a pout ala Scarlet O’Hara. Maybe it’s those fleshy, blushing blooms busting out all over their naked branches. When their flowers start to fade,…

Cardinal birds

Custom homes for feathered and furry friends

Spring is in the air and the birds and the bees are….well, you know. And, by all reports, everyone’s doing fine with the making babies part but caring for the little rascals has become more of a challenge. Birds, in particular, are finding it hard to find suitable accommodations for bringing up baby because, what…

Plans for garden

Crash course in garden design

What happens when you ask someone at the top of their game to distill everything they know into a single, easy-to-understand presentation? Standing in front of chalkboard and slide projector, Frank Kershaw admitted that he wasn’t sure he could do it. As an award-winning horticulturalist and teacher at Toronto-based George Brown College, he usually conducts…

Blue Butterfly

Spring’s on the wing

This Sunday, we jump ahead by an hour (except in parts of Saskatchewan), collectively acknowledging that Spring isn’t coming quickly enough. Funny how we can take matters into our own hands and get more daylight in our days–or at least the perception of it. To mark the occasion, I thought it would be fun to…

Demeter fragrances

Making scents of winter

I just sprayed eau de Dirt on my wrist and got a lovely memory rush of digging in my garden. Such is my longing for spring on this cold and grey winter’s day. I’ll admit that I’m also hooked on Demeter Fragrance Library scents, as much for their uncanny encapsulations of time travel as for the…

Spring leaves

At the speed of spring and seahorses

“Spring travels north at about thirteen miles a day.” So wrote Diane Ackerman in her provocative book, “Cultivating Delight“. She figures this equates to 47.6 feet per minute or about 1.23 inches per second. When I read this, my first thought was at that rate, you could actually keep pace with Spring–meet up with it…

Leaves in a container

Container idea: Leaf love

I was at a big box store a few days ago (ok, Costco) and barely got out alive. People were scrambling to grab white plastic hanging baskets stuffed with all kinds of crayola-coloured flowers. The prices were insane, of course. But as I dodged a careening cart bulging with containers of hot pink geraniums, peachy…