February 2014 - News & Events
We survived the December 2013 Ice Storm, the Polar Vortex and generous snowfalls of late. Well, not everyone may have survived the ice storm. If some of your shrubs or trees took a weltering wallop, there's still time to plan for replacements as the pre-ordering for the plant sale is imminent. We don't know the launch date, but at least we know the cut off date: April 20, 2014. So you have time to decide on your selection.
Perhaps our next talk: "Native Plants for a Sustainable Built Environment" will give you some ideas when thinking of the NANPS Spring Plant Sale and the goodies that will be available.
Hint: If you volunteer at the sign-in table, the cost is free. But only a couple of sprouts are needed.
And since we've brought up the Plant Sale, we couldn't do it without all of our wonderful volunteers. If you are able to help we are very appreciative. If you are unable to help out at the sale, we have many other opportunities which only require a couple of hours.
Other NANPS Events - volunteers appreciated
Suspend reality for a moment and pretend it's Spring for a day with "Get the Jump on Spring", the Annual Horticultural Open House hosted by Volunteers of the TBG and the OHA District 5.
A $2 donation is appreciated. Visitors who choose to donate will have the opportunity to win great prizes! Come by the NANPS booth and revel in native plant talk. You can relax and feel comfortable gushing about your native plant garden without getting blank stares or odd looks. We understand.
Saturday February 22, 2014, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.Toronto Botanical Garden, 777 Lawrence Avenue E., Toronto
Presentation from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.: Environmental Horticultural Concerns with Martin Galloway, Educator, Naturalist.
Canadian Book Launch and Signing in the Weston Family Library from 2:30 - 3:15 p.m. Taming Wildflowers by Miriam Goldberger, Founder & Visionary of Wildflower Farm, one of Canada's oldest and largest wildflower seed companies.
Just think of all those native plants nice and cozy under massive piles of snow. They'll be well hydrated as it melts in the spring...whenever that may be. Plan ahead for the eventual emergence of spring by using NANPS' SeedEx or go face-to-face with NANPS at these live events around the GTA:
Seedy Saturday/Sunday:Sat. March 1 - Vaughan (Vaughan City Hall, 2141 Major Mackenzie Dr.)
Sat. March 8 - Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Ave.)
Sat. March 15 - Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. W.)
Sat. March 22 - Scarborough (Blessed Cardinal Newman H.S., 100 Brimley Rd. S.)
Sun. March 30 - North York (Lawrence Heights Community Centre, 5 Replin Rd.)
Canada Blooms will be emerging next month. NANPS will bloom from March 14 - 18. Free admission for volunteers!
A Selection of Other Events
Get to know some pollinators! Join us for pinning!
Thursday February 13, 2 - 7 p.m.U of T, Ramsay Wright Building, Rm 203, 25 Harbord St., Toronto Society for Conservation Biology, Toronto Chapter is looking for volunteers to help pin specimens collected during the 2013 survey of pollinator biodiversity in Rouge Park. No previous experience required. Attend for as long as you can, but please RSVP with availability.
Macrophotography of InsectsSaturday February 22, 1:15 p.m.
Emmanuel College, Room 108, 75 Queen's Park Crescent, Toronto
Toronto Entomologists' Association invites speaker: Max Skwarna, professional photographer. Free.
Sunday February 23, 10:30 - 12:30 p.m.Howard Park Tennis Club, 430 Parkside Dr., Toronto
High Park Stewards welcome speaker Jane Hayes, Masters in Environmental Studies (York U), Director, Garden Jane. Her current work includes working with garden communities of all ages, teaching permaculture design and helping grow the scope of urban agriculture in the GTA. Everyone is welcome. Free.
Check the Scoop Calendar for lots of events including Seedy Saturday/Sunday Events across the region:St. Catherines, Stratford, Pickering, Kitchener, Mississauga, Cavan, Picton, Hamilton, Utopia (yes, it exists...we just don’t know if it really exists in the native plant way, i.e., as a superb, native plant seed repository), Vaughan, Burlington, London, Kingston, Brampton, Peterborough, St. Mary's, Guelph...and probably more. Wouldn’t it be great if NANPS could set seed in these other locations?
The push to get native plants in Ontario Place Park
On January 22nd, a second public meeting was held for the Ontario Place Revitalization Plan. NANPS member, John Oyston attended with a couple of other NANPsters and has his take on the latest plans for the Urban Park and Waterfront Trail.
John's synopsis & Scoop's quick translation - gentrified park = too much lawn; trilliums with little canopy cover (blooming all summer in full sun?!!!); lack of wetland features; essentially a green roof forest over an esplanade/cafe rather than deep soil of a forest; no diversity of habitat (suggestion: grow a prairie on the green roof instead of a sparse forest).
We really need your input. We can't emphasize this enough, as the designers are mentioning trilliums but don't know anything about their ecology. Please fill out the new survey to ask them to include native plant plantings and not just a few token trees. We need to emphasize seasonality of blooming such as those native wildflowers that are interested in standing out in the cold, wintery weather. Ask any of the native asters or some of the hyssops that are brave enough to tough it out on the shores of Lake Ontario. They look great sticking out of a snow mound! And the birds will appreciate them, too.
"If we keep on asking for Ontario Place Park to showcase the beauty of Ontario's native plants, and keep on offering suggestions, I think we will achieve our goal!" (John Oyston).
John started a Facebook page: Ontario Native Plant Reserve devoted to Jim French's native plant vision of Ontario Place Park and Trail.
Update on the jet controversy: Debate on a controversial proposal to introduce jet aircraft to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has been postponed until March 25. The new jets would require a runway extension of as much as 200 metes at each end of the island airport runway. This would bring the runways closer to the proposed Ontario Place park.
Latest Scoopin' on Facebook
Besides keeping track of the Ontario Place Park vision, we are also involved with NANPS' Facebook postings both in the open group (page) and the closed group. Native plant enthusiasts are reaching out to help others. Here's an example of a member's inquiry in the closed group: "Is anyone growing native plants from seed? Looking for people to compare notes with, get advice. I'm especially looking for advice about marsh marigold, wood poppy, and Virginia bluebell, which seem to sprout very early, but then die back in early spring. Quick summary of my experience here." Note: Closed group does not mean the members are close minded. It just means you have to ask to join. There's no test and you don't have to give up your first born plant...which might not even be your favourite.
Ashes to Ashes and the Power of VolunteersNot all ashes are alike according to the Emerald Ash Borer. The diminutive beetle, only in size but not in industriousness, has threatened our ash trees. However, it appears blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), coincidentally the rarest one and listed as a species of Special Concern under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, may appear to have some resistance to the invasive beetle's wily ways.
As part of a long term goal to save the blue ash species, a seed-harvesting initiative using volunteers yielded a bumper crop from an old plantation that is part of the Ontario Rare Woody Plant Program at Guelph Arboretum (John Ambrose & Henry Koch). The seeds will be sent to planting groups around Ontario in an effort to reverse the tree's decline. Here's hoping the planting sites are far apart and the beetles won't go the extra mile in search of them.
Note: Blue Ash is on NANPS' plant sale database
I wish I could buy the farm...literally, not figuratively
We were shocked to hear that Acorus Restoration Native Plant Nursery and Blazingstar Learning Centre, in Walsingham is for sale. Acorus is continuing to operate and is one of our suppliers for NANPS' Spring Plant Sale 2014.
Message from Paul Morris, the owner:
I'm contacting my list of conservation minded people to see if you know anyone that might be interested in purchasing the farm. I would prefer it went to someone that would take care of the natural areas that I have lovingly created since moving here in 1995.
World Wetlands Day 2014
2014 is the UN International Year of Family Farming, so the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands linked farming and wetlands to choose their theme: Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth. The theme places a focus on the need for the wetland and agricultural sectors to work together for the best shared outcomes.
Closer to homeIn Ontario, you couldn't swing a cattail without hitting a wetland. Well, that's the way it used to be. Sadly, we have drained much of our wetlands, mainly for farming. Now, even those farms are under threat to housing development, resulting in less greenspace. It seems all greenspace is constantly under intense pressure from development.
Development threatens our locavore movement - "grow local, eat local". It threatens our mandate to conserve native plant species, species which eke out an existence in and around farm properties. We need to preserve both farmland and wetlands.
One such proposed housing development in Midhurst, near Barrie threatens dwindling, prime agricultural land and a significant wetland: 770 ha (1900 acres) of Class 1 Farmland and the largest fen bog in southern Ontario - Minesing Wetlands.
Minesing Wetlands is the largest intact wetland in southern Ontario"The Minesing Swamp is a Ramsar boreal wetland in central Ontario, Canada, identified and classified through the International Biological Program. It is the largest and best example of fen bog in southern Ontario, one of the most diverse undisturbed wetland tracts in Canada and is a provincially-significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. This 6,000 hectare (~15,000 acres) site comprises land holdings of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, the Government of Ontario, County of Simcoe and numerous private landowners.
It provides habitat to over 400 plant species, of which 11 are provincially rare, over 206 species of birds inhabit the wetlands, including 114 known breeders and Ontario's fifth largest Great Blue Heronry. Minesing Swamp is an important staging area for thousands of migratory waterfowl, and is the largest wintering ground for white-tailed deer. It supports numerous plant species which are at the extremities of their natural range, including those indigenous to the arctic tundra in the north and the Carolinian forests to the south, and is home to the largest pure stand of silver maple in the province."
Petition to send Margaret Atwood back to school
We're being a bit facetious, but if it gets your attention to a worthy cause that involves native plants, we would pull out all the plugs to make sure you hear about it and hopefully, feel the need to dig in.
Canadian author, avid birder and long time supporter of the environment, Margaret Atwood is lending a hand to the Midhurst Ratepayers' Association to protect their community from over-development - essentially from increasing the population of the village from 3500 to a city of nearly 30,000 people. She tweeted and offered a challenge to engage more people. If the petition of 5000 people, is reached, she has pledged she will visit Midhurst and do a fundraiser in a nearby high school. Updates are on Facebook.
On January 27th, Pickering council voted unanimously in support of a motion calling on the federal government to come up with a business case to justify an airport in Durham. The motion is also calling for a full environmental assessment.
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