Curl up with these plant books

Well, there aren’t exactly a heck of a lot of matters that need attention in the “Horticultural Matters” department these days other than tending to giant tropicals that are waiting for the warm spring day when they can escape to the great outdoors. So ever since the big freeze I have been entertaining myself by […]

Superstitions are out of this world

It’s no secret that the plant kingdom has been responsible for creating more than its fair share of superstitions and wacky beliefs over the last few centuries. There are plants that guarantee good luck, prosperity, longevity, romance — and even a few that will repel demonic entities and supernatural beasts from sneaking into the house, […]

Ancient garden art makes a comeback

When I lived on Lee Avenue in the late seventies and eighties there was a unique piece of art on display in Kew Gardens. But this type of art in the park wasn’t of the usual wood carving, sculpture or painting variety. Back in the days when you could buy your socks and underwear at […]

Little beetle means big trouble for Toronto’s ash trees

Just when we thought we had established a beachhead in the battle against the dreaded Asian longhorn beetle, along comes another deadly pest to terrorize our urban forests. As Phil Lameira reported in this newspaper four years ago, the latest participant in the parade of tunnelling chewers assaulting our trees is the well-publicized emerald ash […]

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 […]