Gardeners know from years of experience that some plants are happier in some spots and will not thrive in others. One may follow all the instructions on the labels – but really, who does that? I know I give them a cursory glance and then plant where I meant to anyway, supremely confident that the plants will do what I want.
Sometimes they surprise me and behave as I want them to, more often, they develop a will of their own and either they grow so big (yes, the label did say they would) that they need to divided in a couple of years, or they just languish and need to be moved to a different spot.
But even when you do follow the instructions, there are plants that will teach you a thing or two about free will. Kochuripana plant being a case in point. That’s the Bangla word for water hyacinth, and one I much prefer as it conjures images of lakes filled with purple blooms. Of course, in tropical lands, it is considered an invasive weed, choking water bodies. Here, it is sold in nurseries as a plant for ponds or water features.
I spotted them first many years ago and brought home two for my little water feature. I knew full well that it cannot survive our winters and therefore the chances of it growing thuggish were remote, and yet, I imagined it would grow enough to fill the pot. The two little plants sat there in the water happily enough, but refused to do their thing. At the end of the season, I brought them inside, placed them in a dish of water. They did not take to overwintering indoors and in a few weeks I had to empty the dish of green slimy water. Undeterred, I purchased more the next year and the one after that. Each year, the plants added a touch of whimsy to my water feature, but that was about it.
Until we moved to a new home. That year, like in previous years, I placed my water feature outside with the kochuripana in it. Walking by it one morning, I was surprised to see a little bud. My kochuripana was blooming! Within a few days there were more and I was treated to the prettiest sight ever.
Blanket flowers seeded all over the place in my old garden and I had so many plants, all my friends got a few, but I struggle to establish them in this garden. They do well enough for the duration of the season, but for some reason, seem to behave like annuals, refusing to make an appearance the following year. But I have learned perseverance from my kochuripana – it’s just a matter of finding the right spot!
PollinateTO community grants
The new PollinateTO community grants provide up to $5,000 per project for community-led initiatives to create pollinator habitat in Toronto. More than 300 species of bees and hundreds of other pollinator species can be found in Toronto. Some species are in decline due to habitat loss, climate change and other stressors. Once lost, native species cannot be replaced.
Thirty-seven applications were selected to receive funding from among 151 applications submitted. Approved projects include community faith gardens, Indigenous education gardens, residential rain gardens, schoolyard teaching gardens and multiple front-yard gardens on residential streets (which serve as pollinator pathways).
The next round of grants will be announced in early 2020.
More info at www.toronto.ca/pollinateTO.
3 tips for a bee-friendly garden
From NEWS CANADA
We don’t all have a green thumb, but a beautiful flower garden doesn’t have to be difficult. Planting a little patch of colour can be easy and rewarding, not just for us, but also for pollinators like honey bees.
By following these tips, anyone can turn their outdoor space into an area that looks beautiful and helps feed hungry honey bees all summer long.
1. Your garden is like a buffet for honey bees. Plants reproduce through pollination. This occurs when pollen is transferred from one flowering plant to another. Moving the pollen is where honey bees come in. They use nectar and pollen as food for their hives, but in their travels they can also spread the pollen. Make sure you plant honey bee-attractive flowering plants that will bloom in your garden at different times throughout the summer.
2. Plant wherever you can. It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or an apartment – whether it’s on your balcony, on a rooftop or in your backyard – a small patch of flowers can help feed honey bees in your community. Consider plants native to Canada like lance-leaved coreopsis, sneezeweed, New England asters, dense blazing stars and golden tickseed.
3. Choose the right seeds. Researching the best plants for your area doesn’t have to be a long and cumbersome process. Bees Matter offers free pollinator-friendly seeds with an online sign-up at www.beesmatter.ca. Using pre-packaged Buzzing Gardens seed kits can help make planting your garden quick and easy.