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 […]

Horticultural pet a blast from the past

When it comes to Christmas gift giving, our family has one simple rule – no pets, especially ones with the ability to bark, meow, fly, swim or slither. The ‘slithering’ gifts are completely off limits as far as I’m concerned, right up there with polka-dot ties and those plaid Gatsby golfing hats. You can imagine […]

Poinsettias shine with lack of light

For those annoying little twangs of seasonal affective disorder that seem to sneak up on you in the days leading up to the winter solstice there’s nothing better than a Poinsettia or two to brighten up a dark corner of the living room. And don’t fret about urban legends warning that the plants are poisonous. […]

An ode to an odorous bulb

There is usually a faint fragrance of garlic hanging around my house at this time of the year – and it’s not part of some master plan to discourage those shopping-bag toting vampires, werewolves and other cute little demons that will be wandering about the neighbourhood next week. The aroma wafting up from the basement […]

A history of a musical weed that does double duty as a reed

Quick, what’s the most important weed in the history of music? And no, I know what you are thinking. I’m not talking about the kind of ‘weed’ that got Louis Armstrong hauled away in handcuffs, or the same fragrant herb that caused a boatload of trouble – or rather ‘potload’ of trouble – for Paul […]