Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Page 3 of 20

The results of the Rewilding garden session

Early Saturday morning, I got up early to make it up to Pepinière Jasmin – where you can always find some native/indigenous plants, even at the end of the planting season. One of the native plant suppliers was Aiglon Indigo.

I got the following plants for the garden and the walls of my house:  Continue reading

Rewilding Event – upcoming this weekend

Six weeks before the frost sets in (traditionally, people consider Canadian Thanksgiving the first-frost date, but it comes later), gardeners can get an early start on the next year’s garden and crops. This time of year is perfect for doing transplants, as roots are not as subject to water and heat stress, and have a chance to establish themselves before the coming winter .

I’ve decided that it’s time for an event: a fall-oriented gardening session. We’ll prepare a garden for next year, and plant native species. This event is for the avid or casual gardener, or anyone who wants to get their hands dirty while learning about native and cultivated plants for biodiverse wildlife gardens. You are welcome to bring plants from your garden for swapping with other gardeners.

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You’ll never guess what has been using my green driveway…

Last night I saw something charming enough that I posted it to the Facebook page, and I’m just going to copy it here. Without a direct video or photo (sorry!) I just have to tell it to you straight.

Tonight I had great satisfaction – and also proof-of-concept– when I came home from a run. As I passed my green driveway on the way in, I startled a small flock of chipping sparrows who were foraging on my green driveway, near the garage door. Success! They are getting more populous in my well-treed neighbourhood.

See more here at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Chipping_Sparrow

I’m often confused about whether the birds I see are American Tree Sparrows or Chipping Sparrows. I haven’t heard the distinct call of the Tree Sparrow, but I often hear the distinct call of the Chipping Sparrow in spring. This persuades me which one it is. (You can easily see the American Tree Sparrow and listen to the calls the birds make at the All About Birds link, above).

Since 2012, when I really started paying attention to the birds here in  Little Burgundy, the Chipping Sparrow is increasing in numbers. It will fluctuate, but increases are good. All cities need native habitat and the birds and animals that use it, and the birds will then benefit from cities. There’s already ecological census data indicating that cities are beginning to be beneficial environments for many species, and not just skunks and raccoons!

Butterflies to see and links to share for Pollinator Week

It’s said that birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammal pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of our food. Pollinating flowers is a serious job. For this reason, the Pollinator Partnership organization created an event called Pollinator Week, every year around the third week of June – this year (2017), it’s June 19-25. I blogged about it a few years ago, with a bonus DIY Mason Bee house project.

It’s very important to give honeybees and native insect pollinators as much habitat and food as we possibly can, because of Colony Collapse Disorder. In absence of remedies to prevent this disease from killing the honey bees that pollinate our non-native food crops, only natural resistance, the kind where survivors (in particular, survivor queens) go on to create new hives, will improve the survival rates of beehives. In addition, honey bees are very competitive with native pollinator species, so we need to make sure that the natives get a fair crack at food sources – specifically native plants, which honey bees are less adept at pollinating.

So, to inspire people to do something to appreciate or even help our pollinators, I found a few links to share. Nature herself also motivated me: the cover photo for this post came from my recent trip to the Adirondacks, where I found a bunch of Eastern Swallowtail butterflies mud-puddling on the beach.

  • If pollinators had dating profiles, these would be those. This is an article by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, on my favourite publishing platform, Medium. It’s cute and clever and I learned a few species.
  • Updated in 2018: there’s also an Irish website, “Don’t Mow, Let it Grow,” dedicated to education about helping pollinator species such as bees. They have an animated cartoon series suitable for children to explain what bees and other pollinating insects do. (Note for little children: it would be helpful for a parent to read the titles on the animation!)

What more can we lawn-owners and gardeners do to help bees and other insect pollinators, such as butterflies?

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