Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Unitarian Church Tour and Native Plants Sale.

Monday 27th June--
Thanks to Joanne Tunnicliffe (aka Mother Nature), Head Gardener at the First Unitarian Church for another tour of the grounds including the ever-expanding Carolingian forest and native plant gardens. Incredible accomplishment in under five years!

We had a great time and learned lots!

Thanks to Paul O'Hara of the newly opened Locke Street Native Plants.

Great to have had Matt Mills and partner Eva of Talondale farm for their wonderful selection of wild flowers and shrubs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"We want to be planters when we grow up."

Bobolink, CityHousing.
It was a hot, hot Friday afternoon in June but the kids at Bobolink CityHousing were undaunted by the heat. They were excited by the prospect of planting a garden to attract butterflies, bees, birds and other beneficial insects with the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project. This is a project of Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalist Club, with the goal of planting native species habitat across the city of Hamilton. "I've been gardening since I was two," said one particularly knowledgable nine year old. "My mum and I garden together." Another enthusiastic nine year old promised he would be sure to water the garden and keep a general eye out for it: "I'm going to be a planter when I grow up," he said. He eagerly pointed out his thriving vegetable garden plot on the same property. Even a four year old child helped put plants into soil. Taking breaks to sip on cool lemonade, the "planting pollinator paradise party" concluded with tasty pizza for all involved.

To date, the Pollinator Paradise Project has been engaging community members across the city in planting habitat and building a "pollinator corridor." It has around twenty five sites across the city and encourages residents to get involved by planting habitat on their own properties.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

We're celebrating pollinators and creating pollinator habitat by planting native species throughout the month of June.


Hamilton--June 20th to 26th is Pollinator Week but the Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project (PPP) is going full out and celebrating pollinators throughout the entire month.

A project of Environment Hamilton and Hamilton Naturalists' Club, the PPP is planting pollinator-friendly gardens and educating and raising awareness about the need to create habitat across our city for declining pollinator populations. Everyone is on board. Ward councillors ("Politicians for Pollinators") support the project and encourage their residents to plant for nature. A native plant garden is being planted on City Hall grounds at the Hunter Street entrance. Local food associated organizations such as the Victory Gardens and the McQuesten Urban Farm, as well as public parks that have community gardens close by like Victoria Park (Strathcona) will benefit from the project's native plant patches since more bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects means healthier and increased food production.

The PPP is actively engaging school children and youth in planting sites on school board property at Hess St. Elementary School, Bishop Ryan And Winston Churchill secondary schools. Places of worship such as the new Down Town Mosque saw dozens of mosque volunteers come out to help plant a garden on their property and plan to educate their members on why we need to plant with nature in mind.

A special award, called the Monarch Awards has been created by the project organizations and local community groups to honour those who are doing their part and planting habitat in their own yards (deadline for applications is June 19th), and the project offers a free certification program.

On Friday June 17th, the project is inviting media to Bobolink, CityHousing complex (at the end of Bobolink Road, across from Bruleville Park) for a festive planting and celebration of all things pollinators. Residents of the complex, including seniors and children, will help put plants in the ground. Pizza and light beverages will be offered. Event takes place from 4 to 6pm.

We look forward to your attendance. For all inquiries, please contact:
Jen Baker, Project Coordinator
TEL: (905) 523-3339   EMAIL: land@hamiltonnature.org

Friday, June 10, 2016

 We have to cancel tomorrow's Trees, Bees and Seeds Bus Tour due to calls for thunderstorms.

We were super excited and looking forward to the tour. 
We'll keep you posted when we reschedule.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rethinking the Garden: Pollinators, Habitat and Your Mighty, Mighty Garden.

This piece is published in Hamilton Magazine: Spring 2016 page, 44.

Gardening is an expression of personal taste, and the garden, often considered a sanctuary—a space created to delight the self.

But with the decline of pollinators in our midst (bees, butterflies, small birds, beneficial insects), people are rethinking the garden and what it can do for the natural world.

With close to 75% of all flowering plants depending on these little critters to move pollen grains from plant to plant (not to mention, that one out of every 3 bites of food is pollinator-dependent), “beyond the personal landscape, a garden can make a bigger contribution,” says Barb McKean, Head of Education at the Royal Botanical Gardens. “We’re realizing what can happen when individual action--planting plants that support wildlife--becomes a collective action."

What happens when we flood out and the water has nowhere to go because we’ve paved everything? That collective contribution takes into account climate change and community resiliency in the face of extreme weather conditions.

Barb's garden
Barb explains that from a conservation point of view, it is not ideal to have islands of green—that’s restrictive in terms of the gene flow, causing problems for ecological integrity since there is no free exchange of movement of plants and animals. In a broader landscape, it becomes a real challenge to create these necessary corridors. When you get into city ravine systems that can function as corridors, like streams, that water still drains but it’s all buried beneath roads, so the bio-diversity doesn’t have green space to flow through.

With her own gorgeous, sustainable, rain garden, Barb practices what she preaches when she suggests piecing people’s properties together, to create stepping stones across the city to help species thrive.

“The more people doing it the more we can connect, the better for all of us,” Barb says. “So if you’ve got a piece of garden, no matter how small, you can tweak it or extend it to incorporate pollinator friendly plants.”

Hamilton Pollinators’ Paradise Project

Enter the Hamilton’s Pollinator Paradise Project (PPP). A project of local nonprofit groups, Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, the goal is to build a "pollinator highway" of native plants that will provide food and shelter for pollinators across the city of Hamilton.

“It’s a serious conservation issue that we can all tackle and get immediate impact,” says Jen Baker, the Project Coordinator.

PPP is currently working to get Hamilton to be a pollinator city (Toronto is already set to become Canada’s first official ‘Bee City’) and is promoting Politicians for Pollinators, encouraging city councilors to pledge to support pollinator conservation and habitat enhancement in their wards.

Since it’s launch two years ago, the PPP has being educating the public about the importance of protecting and planting native plant habitat, building bee boxes through workshops and planting native species sites. The PPP works with  volunteers at schools and community groups and the City of Hamilton’s Adopt-a-Park program.

The Pipeline Trail in Crown Point is an exemplary model of how it works. Residents in this area have created the Crown Point Garden Club and have been planting gardens along the trail. Bev Wagar is one such resident; with the help of PPP, this Organic Master Gardener is part of a group developing an alternative garden award--the Monarch Awards--for pollinator friendly, sustainable gardens. The Monarch Award is scheduled to be launched in late April. Residents from Hamilton's wards 1 to 4 are invited to apply.

Bev's Garden
Bev has also certified her own property though the PPP’s free certification program that celebrates those residential native plant gardens.

Her garden ripples with beautiful eye-pleasing wildflowers—and some non-native (non invasive) plants too.

The point is, “You don’t have to sacrifice your favourite plants in order to do good,” Bev says. “I love my Joe Pye Weed and Asters and Ironweed, but I wouldn't be without my Lupins and Lilies.”

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

There’s more to bees than just honey

This piece appeared in thespec.com on May 25th, June 2016

Honey — I could take it or leave it. But many of us love the sweet taste of that sticky mess honeybees make from the nectar they gather from flowers. And now that bees and other pollinators are on the decline, efforts across the world are stepping up to do something about it.

It's not just that we won't have honey anymore if we lose the honeybees; the concern is also that we will lose pollination — a far more serious issue, as it affects food production.

But here's the thing: if we lost our honeybees today, we would still have pollination.

In Ontario alone, there are over 400 species of wild bees — and surprise! They are pollinators too!

"Typically all agricultural pollination that involves bees assumes that it is done by honeybees," laments bee expert, Dr. Laurence Packer (Professor of Biology at York University). "In Britain, that is not the case because there are not enough hives to account for production."

While in North America, the fields are much larger, "We actually don't know how much other pollinators contribute to production." But because the livelihood of beekeepers depends on the honeybee, if colonies die off, it's a problem.

Here's the thing — according to Packer, honeybees are good at pollinating due to their sheer numbers. "Take 10,000 foraging bees. The overall effect is going to be positive even if they are each doing a bad job on a per visit basis. Individually, they are less effective than a lot of other pollinators/bees."