No matter how much I learn about the garden, there’s always more to know. To plug the (many!) gaps in my knowledge, I often designate my own “Year of the [Fill in the Blank]” to zoom in on a single subject. One was The Year of Ornamental Grasses. At the start, I knew almost zip. Except […]
Wild Bees Need Goldenrod
This summer I talked to wild bee expert Sheila Colla, a scientist from York University, about wild bees and what we as gardeners can do to help them. One of the first things Sheila made clear was that wild bees are native bees and we must make a distinction between them and honeybees, which are not […]
Bringing the houseplants indoors
Late in September, I started bringing the kids back home after their summer holiday. That’s the houseplant kids, kids. This is always a good time to do it, to avoid them being stressed from the sudden change in conditions, especially from an early-fall chill like we’ve had in October 2018. And the first thing I […]
Someone’s been eating my zinnias
I’m actually not here right now. I’m in Cape Breton on holiday. So just a quickie to say, like Mama Bear in Goldilocks: “Someone’s been eating my zinnias. Someone’s been eating my zinnias! Someone’s been eating my zinnias… and there he is!” The grasshoppers have been more plentiful than usual in my garden in 2018. Tell-tale signs […]
Book Review: The Monarch – Saving Our Most Loved Butterfly
Odd events can lead us to new passions. A car detour in Pennsylvania to visit the memorial site for the Flight 93 plane in the countryside, was the start of author and gardener Kylee Baumle’s obsession with Monarch butterflies. She and her mother discovered a dead monarch butterfly lying on the ground. Not only did the butterfly […]
Meet my new pal, the bold jumper
Holy smoke, that’s a big spider! Take a look the maple key in the picture below for scale. Fat and furry, it surprised me in the garden yesterday. Naturally, I wanted to know: friend or foe? Friend, as it turns out! It’s the bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax), and it’s more interested in stalking the bugs […]
What’s wrong with my ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea?
Last year around this time (late April or early May) I noticed something strange about the leaves on shoots of my old, reliable ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas. They looked glued together into a puffy, leaf-shaped balloon. What was wrong? In fact, they were “glued” or rather tightly stitched together at the edges. Turns out the culprit was the larva of […]
An Icky Honeydew You Don’t Want
For the last few months I’ve been battling scale on an large indoor-wintering abutilon, or Flowering Maple. I’d been occasionally picking the scale off by hand, or with a microfiber cloth, (which works quite well) and I was (sort of) keeping them at bay. I’m a pretty experienced scale squisher, and I thought I had […]
White spots on your pine needles? Uh oh.
If you see white dots like these on pine needles, you might mistake them for something the tree produces itself, like pine gum. I did at first, too. But nope. Dots that look like small splashes of white paint or resin on the needles are the winter homes of an insect pest called pine needle scale (Chionaspis pinifoliae). These critters […]
Doug Tallamy on Wildlife: No Caterpillars, No Chickadees
Doug Tallamy knows the importance of small things, like caterpillars. Doug’s a writer, entomologist, and is an expert on biodiversity and wildlife. His talk at the Toronto Botanical Garden was entertaining and informative. It was also heartbreaking. Nature lovers (like me) love feeding the birds. I buy those big bags of birdseed. It’s fine to […]
What’s that orange bug on your milkweed?
It’s simple. Those orange bugs on your milkweed are milkweed bugs! And these little fellas (or gals) above are one of the later-stage nymphs of the insect. Milkweed bugs come in two versions. Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and Small Milkweed Bugs (Lygaeus kalmii), both of which feed on the seeds of milkweed plants. You can […]
Sadly, my monarch did not hatch
Before I left for Minneapolis, this little guy caused me some excitement. I always turn over the leaves of the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) looking for potential babies. Every once and a while, like this time, a Monarch makes me an expectant parent (or expectant foster parent). But, sad to say, when I got back […]