On ants, aphids and mutualism

[Update: Thrilled to announce that this post won Gold for Best Digital Writing at the 2018 GWA Media Awards from the Association for Garden Communicators. It was an unexpected honour, especially since the competition was very worthy.] I’d wanted to tell you a cool thing about ants and aphids. These are Norway maple aphids (Periphyllus lyropictus), one of 4,000+ aphid species. (Who […]

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How To Pick the Best Shrubs – from Expert Sean James

At a recent Toronto Botanical Gardens talk, Sean James gave us the lowdown on how he uses shrubs. Sean, who’s been gardening since he was four, is an entertaining speaker with tons of knowledge. Sean graduated from Niagara Park school and he now runs Sean James Consulting and Design. He’s an award-winning environmentalist, who is passionate […]

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Wildflower walk along the Bruce Trail

An early Mother’s Day visit to our Number One Dot and her partner O – on the first fine day this spring – took us in search of waterfalls on the Niagara Escarpment. The couple had newly moved to Hamilton, with over 100 waterfalls within its boundaries. This was news to Mr TG and I […]

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When bad things happen to good gardens

It all started with a basement pillar that had been removed, years ago, by a previous owner. The shoring-up they’d done might have once been code. According to the structural engineer we consulted, just in case, it wouldn’t be code now. And our basement project escalated from there. For me, the worst of it wasn’t […]

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The scent of spring

In every season, you’ll find many pretty things to see, hear, and even touch in the garden. But after a long, hard winter, the forgotten sense that comes back to life in spring is the sense of smell. My nose reminded me as I passed a planter outside a client’s office. Suddenly, I was whisked back […]

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Identifying a Bag of Mystery Dahlias

Are you inexorably drawn to the gardening department of a big box store when you go in to buy light bulbs? I am. Admit it, you are too. Especially after the winter we’ve had. Back in early March, I needed to get an injection of growing things. And, while Home Depot’s garden section doesn’t always represent fine […]

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Garden design lessons from florists

We’d come home exhausted after a day of loading and unloading furniture and boxes for our #1 Dot’s move to a nearby city (okay, it’s Hamilton). What was waiting for us on the porch but this beautiful arrangement. As I turned it round and round to choose “the front*” it occurred to me that a well-designed floral […]

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Why you should do the grade-school bean experiment

Did you do this in grade school? You should do it again. Watching beans grow inside a jar is like Jack and the Beanstalk meets x-ray vision. I did it recently to get pictures for a Gardening with Children Master Gardener presentation I was writing. But with the beans growing right beside me on my desk, I could not stop obsessing over roots and shoots […]

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2019 Snowdrop alert! At last.

My first snowdrop of 2019 revealed itself this morning, on St. Patrick’s Day. Here and there are more nubs of up-pushing Galanthus foliage, too. For me, the first snowdrop is a sign that, despite this long winter of our discontent, beneath the soil surface the garden is growing. Press on, says Nature, nothing in this world can take the place […]

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