Poisonous Pokeweed

In Southern Ontario where I write from this poisonous weed can be found growing in city neighbourhoods (as the photos below were), meadows and near the edges of woodland areas. It’s a good plant to learn how to identify since all parts of this plant are highly poisonous. Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), is known by many names including dragonberries, and inkberry. It is a rather large … Continue reading Poisonous Pokeweed

Cut Worms in Home Gardens

Cutworms are a destructive pest insect of a wide variety of plant material. Many home gardeners have encountered them in the vegetable garden, where they chew through the stems of their seedlings, cutting them off near the soil line. There are hundreds of species of cutworms and appearances can vary, as well as habitat, food preferences and life cycle. There are however several general characteristics, … Continue reading Cut Worms in Home Gardens

Creeping Red Fescue For Shady Turf Areas

Growing turf grass in shady areas under and around large trees is certainly challenging. Especially trees like Maples that root close to the surface and drink up a lot of water all season long. A good turf choice in these areas is Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra). Creeping Red Fescue prefers to dry out a bit between watering, requires less fertilizer, has a high tolerance … Continue reading Creeping Red Fescue For Shady Turf Areas

Ornamental Garden Calendar for May

May is one of the busiest and exciting times in the garden. The days are getting warmer and longer. Plants are quickly filling out, weeds are establishing and insects are buzzing all around. The trees are breaking out in leaf and spring flowering trees and shrubs are putting on their show. Mid May is also when we here in southern Ontario typically begin planting out … Continue reading Ornamental Garden Calendar for May

Slugs and Snails in the Ornamental Garden

Most people are familiar with these slimy pests, that cause extensive damage to gardens, both ornamental and food. Slugs and snails while thought of as insects to most gardeners, are actually invertebrate animals known as Molluscs or mollusks (along with oysters, clams and squid). They have been around for about 500 million years (BYJU’S, (n.d.)) with about 85,000 known species (Wikipedia, (rev.  9 April 2022)). … Continue reading Slugs and Snails in the Ornamental Garden

Willow Leaf Gall Sawfly

What Are Galls? Galls are unusual growths or deformities of plant tissue caused by an organism; be it insect, nematodes, fungi, bacteria or viruses. The presence of these organisms initiates an increased production of normal plant growth hormones and these plant hormones cause localized plant growth. The gall-making organism feeds inside the gall. The appearance of the gall is unique to the gall maker and … Continue reading Willow Leaf Gall Sawfly

Spongy Moth aka. Gypsy Moth

The spongy moth (Lymantria dispar), is an invasive and highly destructive pest. When their numbers are high the larvae can completely defoliate trees, even forests. Formerly known as the gypsy moth, it was renamed by The Entomological Society of America in Feb. 2022. This species has a few sub-species including: Lymantria dispar dispar, Lymantria dispar asiatica, Lymantria dispar japonica, Lymantria umbrosa, Lymantria postalba and Lymantria albescens. They are often … Continue reading Spongy Moth aka. Gypsy Moth

Imported Willow Leaf Beetle

The Imported Willow Leaf Beetle (Plagiodera versicolora) is a small metallic-blue-green beetle with an insatiable appetite for willow and poplar trees. Native to Europe, the beetle was introduced to North America in 1915 and is predominantly found in the eastern U.S. and south/eastern Canada. Identification and Damage  Adults: beetles are small, about 4 or 5 mm long ( 1/8″), metallic blue-green in colour, with an … Continue reading Imported Willow Leaf Beetle

How to Plant Canna Lily Bulbs

Few plants can match the tropical appeal and spectacular presence of Canna Lilies. Growing from three to over six feet in a single season, these trouble-free beauties originated in South America and the West Indies and have become a favourite here in North America. Starting Your Bulbs in Pots Indoors: March is an excellent month to start your Canna Lily bulbs indoors. Follow these simple … Continue reading How to Plant Canna Lily Bulbs

Ornamental Garden Calendar for April

April is traditionally a busy month in the garden. Spring cleanup begins and there are a host of other tasks to tend to. Following is a list of tasks and things to look out for, in your ornamental gardens in April. Note: these times are approximate and can vary depending on the weather and on your specific hardiness zone. The zone I write from is a zone … Continue reading Ornamental Garden Calendar for April

Spittlebugs and Frog Hoppers

There are approximately 2500 spittlebug species world wide (Deitz  L. L. et. al., (2008)). Most of these live in the tropics with only about 60 species living in North America (Missouri Department of Conservation, (n.d.)). In Canada they are mostly found along the very southern end of the country. The nymphs are referred to as spittlebugs because of the frothy, spittle-like substance they produce and … Continue reading Spittlebugs and Frog Hoppers

Boxwood For Ornamental Gardens

Boxwood (Buxus) have been a popular choice for ornamental gardeners, world wide, for 1000’s of years. These versatile evergreen shrubs have graced the homes of royalty, large public gardens, commercial properties and home gardens of all styles and sizes. They are relished for their slow growth, compact size, and ability to handle tight sheering, making them popular choices for hedges and topiary. Read on to … Continue reading Boxwood For Ornamental Gardens

Iris Borers and Bacterial Soft Rot 

Iris borers (Macronoctua onusta), are a species of cutworms that bore through iris leaves down into the rhizomes, causing browning and wilting. Their feeding damage can also cause a disease known as bacterial soft rot, aka. root rot. This bacterial disease, caused by the bacteria Erwinia carotovora, causes the rhizome to rot and become mushy, emitting a foul odour. Iris rhizomes infected with this disease … Continue reading Iris Borers and Bacterial Soft Rot