Imported plants can pack a punch in self-defence

For most creatures that walk, swim, waddle or flap their wings, plants are something to eat. They are nutritious, easy to find and even easier to catch since most of them can’t see you coming and don’t run away or bite back. But plants haven’t survived for millions of years without some way of fending […]

Aphids rounded up by ‘cowboy’ ants

What do cowboys and ants have in common? Well, apart from the ten-gallon hats, pickup trucks and that curious habit cowboys have of spontaneously shouting “yippee yi yo ki yay” at the line dance, ants probably have more in common with the old cowpokes than you might think. I never really paid much attention to […]

Shopping for plants in the produce aisle

It won’t be long before the gardening crowd will be dusting off their trowels and stampeding straight to plant sellers to stock up for the upcoming summer growing season. Unfortunately, with dedicated nurseries in short supply these days, most intrepid plant hunters will be headed to the big boxes where lumber stores, outlet malls and […]

Pondering a proper plant soundtrack

These days it’s a generally accepted scientific fact that plant to plant communication actually does exist. They have the amazing ability to ‘talk’ to each other using hormones released into the air. They also use interconnected root systems and minute electrical signals and sounds to warn their neighbours of impending insect attacks, drought and other […]

Lack of rules results in krazy plant names

If you ask a horticulturist or serious gardener to identify a plant there is a good chance they will give you an earful of botanic nomenclature packed with a Linnean mashup of Latin, Greek, German and Anglo-Saxon words that will eventually make your eyes glass over. For botanists it’s a serious business full of rules […]

The good, the bad, and the ugly of earthworms

Help! I noticed hundreds, maybe thousands of invading alien creatures crawling through my soil when I was planting my garlic crop a couple of weeks ago. But hold on to your shovel. As scary as it sounds, the animals writhing around in my vegetable plot are not from a horror movie marquee, nor some terrifying […]

A magnolia to call our very own

When it comes to identifying a species of magnolia tree I doubt many of us would automatically reach for our trusty copy of Native Trees of Ontario as our first point of reference. The usual members of the magnolia clan that are regularly plopped into front lawns around the neighbourhood for their giant saucers of […]

Get ready for a new kind of beetlemania

In about four or five weeks many areas of Ontario, Eastern Canada and a good part of the United States will be experiencing a type of beetlemania. However, this non-musical invasion doesn’t originate from Liverpool, has never appeared on the Ed Sullivan show, and any screams and shrieking will probably come from someone unlucky enough […]

A plant with as many names as it has uses

After the bone-chilling winter we endured it’s not surprising the early birds of the plant kingdom are a little reluctant to break through frozen ground to show us their greenery. As we enter a relatively balmy second week of April even the usual early blooms of crocus, narcissus and primula are noticeably late to turn […]