This Week in Our Garden

 

pasque flower aka prairie crocus
pasque flower aka prairie crocus

[PHOTOS: CWF]

Spring has sprung and the CWF Demonstration Gardens are waking from their winter slumber. Our wildlife-friendly garden showcases a large variety of Canadian native plants and through this blog we’ll be featuring the weekly bloomers and more!

The first to flower was our pasque flower (aka prairie crocus), which had blooms at Easter just a week or so ago. It was soon followed by hepatica. Both plants have gorgeous soft white down all over, which protects them from the cold of early spring. They are still in bloom and joining them are several others. See below for this photographic update, taken by yours truly, along with Melissa Lefebvre who cared for our gardens last year and will do so again this year.

I like to help myself remember what-plants-bloom-when based on some standard plant or sound anyone might see or hear. Right now, the non-native but ever popular shrub forsythia is in full bloom and I’m seeing more and more dandelions show their bright yellow heads. (Stay tuned for ideas on dealing with dandelions in your lawn!). Also, the spring frogs have been calling for a few weeks now and we’re still fairly bug-free.

prairie smoke

Prairie smoke is such a neat plant. It is low growing in clumps – if you get down low, you can appreciate its beauty even more.

hepatica

Hepatica flowers can be white, pink or purple.

bloodroot

Bloodroot from the side shows their large leaves getting ready to uncurl.

bloodroot

The bloodroot flower is so beautiful, I had to share this close up!

Dutchman's breeches

Dutchman’s breeches is one of those spring ephemerals, like hepatica and bloodroot and many others. They make use of the spring sunlight before the leaves of forest trees fully open.

Blue cohosh

Blue cohosh flower close up.

Blue cohosh

Blue cohosh overall, after most of the leaves have unfurled. A week ago they were dark purple stems with small folded leaves. That’s the stage their cousins, the black cohosh, are at right now.

wild ginger

Our wild ginger, a neat ground cover. Some leaves are open while others are only just popping up above ground. Can you spot its flower? It is said to smell like rotting meat, to attract a certain beetle. But I’ve never been able to smell anything!

Other flowering plants include our trees! Some types of willows are already dropping their flowers while others are in full swing, like some maples and poplars.

While there are many more herbaceous plants that have leaves up, like our golden Alexanders, lupins and barren ground strawberries, I thought it would be interesting to show our two earliest ferns:

This royal fern is distinct with its cobweb-like mass of down. See the young leaves? They remind me of a young baby curled up in a mother’s womb.

maidenhair fern

If you see thin red stems poking up on the forest floor, look closely…they might be the new shoots of a northern maidenhair fern.

Many other plants are getting ready to flower, such as Virginia bluebells, mitrewort, mayapple and shrubs like red-berried elder and nannyberry. Check in next week to see them and more and visit our Native Plant Encyclopedia or our wildlife-friendly demonstration garden for more ideas and information.

Spring Has Sprung!

old WAG screenshot - 640px

In keeping with the new growth and fresh starts that come with spring, our WildAboutGardening.org website is sporting a new look, new English and French content and more user-friendly features. Of course, as with any garden, there is much more on the way. Stay tuned to see what blossoms on our pages over the spring and summer…happy gardening!

Celebration in Lawrencetown, N.S.

Lawrencetown Celebration
Lawrencetown Celebration – resident Diana Ackroyd (left) and CWF’s Carole Wheately (right)

[PHOTO: CWF]

I went to a party last weekend in Lawrencetown, a small rural village in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. It has a population of just over 650. It is home to the Nova Scotia Community College’s Centre of Geographic Sciences. And it has also just become the first community in Canada to be designated as wildlife-friendly through the CWF’s Backyard Habitat Program – a great reason for a party!

CWF Board Member, Wilfred Woods presented a framed certificate from CWF to the village and provided subscriptions for the village library to CWF’s Canadian Wildlife and Wild magazines. Carole Wheatley, CWF’s Officer for the Backyard Habitat Program and who did the assessments for the properties, was also on hand to enjoy the celebration and got to help cut the cake!

The community has good reason to be proud. We live with wildlife. Animals and plants surround us. Some wildlife avoid humans of course, but not all do. Improving their habitat is not as difficult as it seems. They need food, water, shelter and some space – the same as us, really. Add to that avoiding pesticides and incorporating regionally native plants and voila – wildlife habitat. It’s our challenge to simply recognize this and to keep this in mind everyday as we go about our lives – especially as we modify the places around where we live. Each one of us can make a difference. So far more than 600 properties in Canada have met the CWF standard to be designated as Backyard Habitat. The residents of Lawrencetown came through in a big way, though – about a third of all the properties in the village met this standard! This is a major boon to wildlife as well as to the residents and visitors of Lawrencetown and Nova Scotia

Congratulations to Diana Ackroyd for leading this charge and to all of the residents of Lawrencetown who took the time and care to ensure that wildlife had a place in their backyard!

To see more photos, click here to visit our facebook photo album.

Rain Barrels Ready for Winter

rain barrel

[PHOTO: CWF]

Despite the treat of a few warm days, we’ve also had our share of nights that dip below freezing. Those days, on my drive to work in the morning, I’ve noticed wetlands sporting a thin layer of ice. Time to empty my rain barrels.

Both my barrels are full, so I’m gradually using up water on plants I’ve recently dug in the ground to overwinter – plants like rosemary, my year old parsley (which can go for 2 years) and other plants that resided in pots this summer. If I have the time, I also water some nearby trees, as I like their roots to have a good drink before winter. Next, with a mighty heave I’ll push the barrel over and jump quickly out of the way, hoping to avoid the freezing water that’s pours out. The barrels then spend the winter upside down, to prevent cracks from winter’s freeze/thaw, which would happen if I left the water be. Visit our Wild About Gardening website to learn more about rain barrels or check out our gardening calendar for other autumn job ideas.