Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lennox Toppin Says

Lennox Toppin would like to discuss love, sex, death and decay with you. These are the overriding principles that help guide the yearly themes which he applies to his intriguing downtown garden, located in Hamilton's historic Strathcona neighbourhood. This year he once again delved into those principles, while celebrating themes of personal freedom and liberation – new themes which surfaced for him due to many changing circumstances. In addition to exploring these evolving themes, he also introduced more native plants to his garden.

Here's what he writes:
It wasn't by choice; I have a deep spiritual and physical connection with my garden, and it told me that it was time to explore this area. To many it may have appeared like the garden did not contain a lot of native plants, it actually had quite a lot. Tucked in various corners, you will see much more than what is apparent on a quick look. And if you view the garden from different vantage points, you will often notice things that you did not before. This has always one of my goals with my garden: to convey that there is a lot more happening than what is on the surface – which is a reflection of how I feel about myself. So, I really wanted to enhance what was already there.

Environment Hamilton hosted a native plant sale in April, and I ended up buying 20 clumps of native carex albersina (White Bear sedge) from Matt Mills of Talondale Farm. I wasn't exactly sure at the time how these would fit in the garden, but once again, my garden told me. I ended up removing a bed of vinca minor (Periwinkle), and replacing that with the clumps of carex, in an artistic display. I'm amazed at just how strong and perfectly those sedges grew! A welcome addition to my garden.

The Royal Botanical Garden's spring auxiliary plant sale was also a source of inspiration. Before the sale, they provided a comprehensive listing of plants which they were going to be selling. This allowed me to do additional research as to what might work for my garden. I am a big supporter of various local horticultural groups' plant sales, which I have noticed are featuring more 'eco-friendly' choices. I added plants like allium cernuum (Nodding Onion), arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-Pulpit), chelone obliqua (Turtle Head) and mertensia virginica (Virgina Blue Bells). I also planted ulvularia sessilifolia (Bell Worts), in memory of a close friend's mother, who recently passed away after a short battle with cancer.

The idea of attracting pollinators is somewhat complex. I always thought that concept revolved around 'the pornography of the flower', and having a partially shaded back garden makes this a little less 'easy' than if there were more sun. But I have never been a great fan of 'easy' – life is full of challenges, and I am here to challenge myself, along with my own and other peoples' preconceived ideas. And I have learned there are many native 'pollinator friendly' plants which do well – in fact thrive – in filtered shade, which actually reflects the woodland environment.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pollination Biologist and Farmer Susan Chan: How farmers are creating pollinator habitat on farms

Susan Chan is coming to Hamilton on October 27th. Come out and hear this inspirational speaker and learn what you can do to protect and cultivate pollinators.