Canada Blooms Day 4: The Serviceberry

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With its springtime blooms and summer fruit, serviceberries have much to offer Canadian birds and beneficial insects. And it just so happens that they look good, too.

Serviceberries, known to plant buffs as the latin Amelanchier, are found across most of Canada, growing in a variety of conditions. The exact number of species is hard to say, as botanists can’t always agree on classifying the species. Approximately 10 to 15 species are considered native to Canada.

Their usefulness and versatility have earned them a warm spot in many a gardener’s heart. Some are bushy while others grow to be small or medium sized trees. They can stand alone or provide a backdrop in a garden bed and many tolerate poor dry soils. Your garden and location will indicate which one is best for you.

In the spring, Amelanchier blossoms entice beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies, which provide that ever necessary service of pollination. As they are early bloomers, they are a very important source of food for these emerging insects.

By the summer, the fruit is ripe and both birds and animals come to enjoy their delicious and nutritious bounty. According to Doug Bennet and Tim Tiner, authors of Up North Again, serviceberries have a sugar content of 20 per cent and are sweeter than blueberries and raspberries. They also contain minerals such as iron and copper.

Many species of birds feast on the berries, including orioles, thrushes, woodpeckers and waxwings. Some are also known to nest in its branches, such as robins and cardinals. In addition to birds, mammals like squirrels and chipmunks will eat the fruit while larger animals such as moose, deer and snowshoe hares may browse on leaves and twigs.

Serviceberries are also important plants for the larvae of certain butterflies such as tiger butterflies, viceroy, admirals and others.

For more information about this amazing flower, click here.

Canada Blooms Day 3: The Common Bluet

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It’s Day Three! We are so happy to be here at Canada Blooms! Stop by!

So let’s talk about something blue, shall we? The Bluet flower! Bluets are native to southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (see below for other Canadian species) and can be planted in a meadow or semi-shade garden, at the edge of a path or to replace lawn. Bluets produce flowers on and off during the growing season, lighting up our woodland garden each spring en masse, and sporadically in the summer and fall, albeit in smaller numbers. Bees and other insects visit this plant for nectar.

Bluets are naturally found in wet grassy meadows, thickets, and open woods. Give them moist, slightly acidic soil (although they can tolerate drier conditions), and either full sun or partial shade.

For more information about the bluet, click here!

Canada Blooms Day 1 : The Pasque Flower

 

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CWF is at Canada Blooms! If you’re in the Toronto area, please pop on by and see us at our booth! We’re so excited to be attending that we thought what better way to kick off the event with some pretty spring flowers! First up? The pasque flower!

The pasque flower ranges in Canada from the Yukon and Northwest Territories down through British Columbia and across to the western tip of Ontario and is the floral emblem of Manitoba. In fact, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Living Prairie Museum celebrates its emblem with “Crocus Days” on weekends in late April.

The pasque flower’s abundant pollen attracts bees, which are eager for a food source at this early part of the spring. According to Johnny Caryopsis who wrote for NatureNorth.com, the flowers are also a place for small insects to warm up, thanks to the arrangement of its sepals, which reflect sunshine, increasing the temperature by several degrees.

The pasque flower typically grows in open areas such as prairies, rocky outcrops, slopes and occasionally in woodland clearings. These plants therefore tend to do best in well-drained soil and full sun, although they can do well in partial shade in warmer regions of the country.

For more information about this amazing flower, click here!

Make a Fairy Garden

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Looking to bond with your kiddos outdoors?

Many children will enjoy creating an area just for the fairies. For children who aren’t so interested in the wee folk, then perhaps they can make an area for some small toy people, animals or even race cars!

It helps if this area is near where you work in the garden, by the veggie patch perhaps. That way, you are together but you can also get a few chores done at the same time.

What You’ll Need

  • A base to build on such as sand or soil.
  • Feathers
  • Stones
  • Cones
  • Shells
  • Bark
  • Sticks

Let’s Get Down to Work!

There are no steps for this activity other than to help your child gather natural materials that are safe to play with and are no longer part of a living plant. Materials will stay up more easily if they are pushed into the sand/soil or if the sand/soil is built up around the base of the item.

Make arbours and tunnels or grand entrances with bark, feathers and cones:

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Make houses and courtyards, pathways and gardens. Add elements such as table and chairs decorated with a crystal or old cedar cones that look like mini flowers:

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Make a little village for dancing and playing:

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Nominate Someone for a Conservation Achievement Award

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[Photo Reprinted from Canadian Wildlife magazine. Get more information or subscribe now! Or, get your digital edition today! Preview digital copy »]

Each year countless Canadians demonstrate their commitment to wildlife conservation through active involvement. They may be volunteers, professionals, or people simply concerned about the quality of life in Canada. Their actions contribute toward the protection of our country’s natural heritage for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation invites you to honour these deserving Canadian conservationists by participating in the Canadian Conservation Achievement Awards Program. But hurry! All nominations must be received at the CWF office no later than midnight, March 31, 2013!

Garden photos

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Everyone loves photographs. They can capture the essence of a moment so perfectly, they can tell a story quickly and powerfully and they are a simple and fun way to share both information and beauty.

Check out CWF’s newest photo albums “A peak at CWF’s native plant demonstration gardens” with a gallery for spring, summer and, as of today, autumn!