Birds & Insects

How to Grow Zucchini

How to Grow Zucchini and Fight Off Striped Cucumber Beetles

Zucchini, also known by its French name, courgette, is reputed to be an incredibly easy plant to grow, and a prolific producer as well. During zucchini season there are jokes made about people breaking into cars and leaving a bag of zucchinis, so desperate are gardeners to get rid of their excess. Fortunately, there are…

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Plant Profile: Globe Thistle

Echinops, commonly called Globe Thistle, is a spikey-leaved plant with perfectly round blue or white flowers.   Actually, to be correct, what we think of as a single flower is actually composed of many individual flowers growing tightly together in a ball:     Those flowers are beloved by bees and other pollinators. B-E-L-O-V-E-D. The…

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Have birdfeeders? Do this now to make clean-up easier in spring!

I love to watch birds eating at our birdfeeders every winter. We put our feeders out in November and keep them filled until there are other food sources, usually sometime in May. What I don’t love is the the thick layer of discarded shells and scattered birdseed that covers my garden. This is what the…

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Not So Ornamental Kale

I don’t like the taste of kale very much, but I do like it as an ornamental plant in my garden. Some of my friends love eating kale (yet we’re still friends) so they help me keep the size of my plants in check.   I’ve never had a problem growing kale—it likes sun, tolerates…

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Monarch butterflies love this fall blooming tree

Earlier this year I heard many, many stories of people raising monarch butterflies by hand, in order to help shore up their declining numbers. Well, it looks like everyone in the Toronto area took good care of their caterpillars because this weekend I had more monarchs in my backyard than ever before. They’re difficult to…

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The dreaded red lily beetle

When I first started my garden, in the early 2000’s, I grew gorgeous oriental lilies that looked a lot like these:   But these are not my lilies. I photographed these on a garden tour in Buffalo, New York last year. No, my oriental lilies were all killed by the wretched Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris…

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Keeping birds safe from windows

I’ve mentioned previously how much I enjoy having birds in the garden, and that I have several birdfeeders to entice them to visit. Most of the time this arrangement has been beneficial for both the birds and I. However, there is a dark side; from time to time, I have heard the sickening thud of…

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Birdfeeders: what gardeners need to know

I spend a lot of winter hours staring out the windows at my sleeping garden so the concept of having something of “winter interest” in the garden is pretty important to me. When you read about creating winter interest the discussion usually centres on making sure you plant some evergreens, ornamental grasses, and trees and…

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What is that giant green thing on my tomato plant?

Last summer I was in my tomato patch, admiring the ripening tomatoes and pruning off excess growth, when something caught my eye. Now I should pause and explain that I grow a lot of tomatoes; 17 plants last season, in fact. And they aren’t little tomato plants—I love to grow heirloom tomatoes, many of which…

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It’s too early for bees, isn’t it?

  That’s what I often hear people say when I talk about all of the activity taking place in my garden at this time of year. But the truth is that as soon as the weather warms up there are bees…and they’re hungry! Take a look (and listen) at what was going on in my…

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Three stages of ladybugs

In late August I was walking through the front garden and something caught my eye. There were alien-like creatures clinging to the clematis and asparagus…   Ladybugs!   In fact, it was a group of ladybugs (which, according to Mr. Google, is a loveliness of ladybugs), moving from the larva to pupa and adult stages! Ladybugs start…

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