Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's Growing On - MGOI Spring Newsletter

Master Gardeners of Ontario

Serving Ontario for Over 25 Years

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In this Issue....


Mike Pineau, Peterborough

For my money, the exotic and spectacular flowers of Brugmansia are a must have on the summer patio or border. This tropical American plant genus hails from the lowlands of Brazil and Ecuador and botanically belongs in the large Solanaceae family which includes Datura, potato, tomato, petunia and tobacco. The large 9" pendant, tubular and fragrant Brugmansia suaveolens X B versicolor hybrids predominate in cultivation but other species are also involved in the genetics of some of the named types. The flowers come in pastel shades of pink, yellow and white on 5 to 8 foot plants and are ideal for tub culture in full sun to partial shade. Read more...

Bundling Up

Edythe Falconer, Ottawa-Carelton

Moisture - In some situations we only get one chance. This is especially true with regard to watering new or even well-established cedar hedges if the fall leading up to freeze-up has been particularly dry. It also applies to dry spells in the spring. If hedges are not well-watered in the fall they become desiccated and may suffer permanent damage. The same is true in the spring when root systems have not yet had time to re-establish themselves. Read more...


Crystal Trojek
Past President, Master Gardeners of Ontario

There’s a crusty little visitor on my doorstep this morning. Coated in ice and dusted in snow, my metal plant stand resides there, filled with now russet Christmas greens, broken branches, plaid ribbon, berries, and artificial pomegranates. At least I know that’s what is under that white stuff. The stand is about to share its remorse on the entryway carpet in a flood of apologetic tears. The stand has numerous possibilities, and is about to receive a smart new spring wardrobe. Read more...

Have a Safe Pruning Spring

Alexandra Wiens, Prince Edward County Master Gardeners

This past winter has been a very challenging season for gardeners. Many of us have watched helplessly while ice, snow and wind have ravaged and damaged some of our favourite trees and shrubs. When the snow finally retreats this spring there will be plenty of debris on lawns and gardens. Many trees have broken limbs and branches that need to be removed. Read more...


Tom McCavour, Simcoe County

In the 1930’s, a slang version of Mind Your Own Business became Mind Your Own Beeswax. Well fellow gardeners, I think that we all should all be minding not only our own beeswax but the beeswax of the world. Our bees are in trouble, there are mass deaths in our bee colonies, which threaten not only the farming community, but also you and me. I love honey, spread on my morning toast, I love honey garlic sausage and honey in my tea; I like honey on my pancakes and honey on my salad. I just like honey period. Read more...

Natives vs Aliens - Challenging our Ethics

Astrid Muschalla – Etobicoke

When educating people on the value of natives vs aliens, I’m often asked, “Why are we allowing these imports, if they are so dangerous to our natural environments?”
It’s a messy topic but one worth sorting through in our minds as we talk to the public about plant choices, especially in the face of extreme climate variables like this winter. We hear from many scientists, like Dr. Douglas Tallamy (author Bringing Nature Home), that biodiversity is an essential and non-renewable natural resource, yet few are thinking like this. It’s argued that selecting for ornamentals creates fragmented and small populations which are vulnerable and can lead to local extinctions. We are also learning that we can turn this trend around but we need to share our spaces. The trouble with planting an alien though, is that it’s not really ecologically equivalent to a native because aliens are poor at supporting other life forms (aka ecosystems services). In other words, non-natives don’t usually form functional communities, which also include the soil microbiology. Read more...

Baby It's Cold Outside

Kevin Kavanagh – Norfolk

At South Coast Gardens (www.southcoastgardens.ca), anxious clients are beginning to ask what they can do about plants that are starting to show wear and tear from a winter known for its punishing pre-Christmas ice storm, record-breaking -40⁰C windchills and the bone-chilling cold associated with the Arctic weather phenomenon now popularly known as a ‘Polar Vortex.’ 

While some of the news headlines may seem more media hype than cold reality, temperatures over the past three months do, in fact, show this to be a below normal winter across the southern Great Lakes Region (and beyond). With this in mind, I’ve prepared some reflections on the kind of winter it’s been (to date) and offer some insight and tips into ways to help recover plants damaged by the prolonged cold. Here is a link to Kevin's full article.

Message to Master Gardeners in Ontario

Jane Beck, President MGOI

Last October Ontario Master Gardener Coordinators gathered at their annual conference to share experiences, exchange ideas and inspire the Board.  Most importantly, Coordinators told us what they expected from their provincial organization. The focus was on policy, education, communications, partnerships and fundraising, promotion and membership, and events. Within these topics we clarified the value needed to prosper.    And, we began to discuss what to improve so that the Board may better serve all its members.

Your Board has taken this direction to heart. Your Education Committee launched the new MGOI Reference Manual, a comprehensive study guide and educational resource for any Master Gardener. This is an extraordinary example just how the Board can support and add value to the entire organization.   And, it’s just the beginning.  Your Board is considering every aspect of what we do and how we can do things better or more effectively. We met in January and will meet again in March to chip away at this huge undertaking.  You will be kept informed about the progress made.   Many small improvements can make a big difference. The small things we will simply go ahead and ‘do’; the bigger issues, we will be asking for your ‘thumbs up’ agreement to proceed. Changes must make sense to the majority. Stay tuned for the new and improved.

MGs in Action


Sue Flinders-Adams, Haliburton

The Haliburton County Master Gardeners are working with the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations (COHPOA) on a Shoreline Restoration Project.  We have developed a 52 page PDF document on Native Shoreline Plants that will be posted on their website.  Future plans in this area include a presentation to the association for February of 2015.

We are developing a Group Presentation on Pruning, which will include a 15-20 minute power point ‘Introduction to Pruning’.  This will be followed by four small group pruning workshops including roses, clematis, flowering shrubs, conifers, and fruit trees.     Presentations will be held at:

  • Norland Horticultural Society, April 16, 1:00 p.m., Pioneer Baptist Church                           
  • Bobcaygeon Horticultural Society, May 15, 7:00 p.m., Knox Presbyterian Church                           
  • Minden and District Horticultural Society, October 7, 7:00 p.m., Minden Community Centre 
In addition, individual members will be making presentations for the Minden and District Horticultural Society on various topics including; Hosta of the year, Accessible Gardening, Permaculture, Vegetable Growing, Garlic Scapes, and Propagating Christmas Cacti.  The same member will also be available to give gardening advice during their meeting break. 
We have completed a plan to rejuvenate the Village Garden Green in Minden and have submitted an application for a grant from the Ontario Horticultural Society to help to cover the cost.

Our focus will soon be on our Annual Plant Sale to be held on May 31 at the Village Green in Minden.

On July 12, we will be doing an Advice Clinic for the Bobcaygeon Garden Tour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Our on-going project is to maintain and update our website with information from all of our presentations over the last four 

London Middlesex Master Gardeners – Seedy Saturday Success

Cheryl Losch, London Middlesex

Stubborn Old Man Winter didn’t deter record attendance at the London Middlesex Master Gardeners 7th Annual Seedy Saturday.

Saturday, March 8th welcomed us with damp, cold temperatures and the threat of freezing drizzle. By 9:30 am, people were lined up out the door for an event that began at 10. The message was loud and clear – “Let Garden Season Begin!” And begin it did. There was something for everyone at Seedy Saturday.  Seed vendors, a seed exchange, sprouts, herbs, plants, books, garden decor and lawn care, to name just a few.

The London Middlesex Master Gardeners did not disappoint.  A day filled with standing-room only presentations and demonstrations delighted attendees and taught many new ways to look at how they work, and play, in their yards and gardens. Coordinator Dorothy McGee shared her knowledge of growing from seeds using recycled material. One new gardener in attendance assisted with the demonstration and took home an egg carton filled with newly planted Brandywine tomato seeds that she will be able to nurture and enjoy during the eventual heat of summer.  Sara Ragalyi taught us how to test and improve soil conditions, including the best options for amending both clay and sand, and offered suggestions for plants that would thrive in varying grades of garden soil. Jennifer Grant demonstrated how a “Better Lawn IS Possible”, with tips and easy techniques to enhance grass growth and vibrancy, and Rosemarie Szalich shared natural and easy-to-use remedies for garden pests, and those nasty weeds that seem to grow no matter what the weather delivers.

The favourite by far was,  “Gardening Vertically and in Any Little Space”, a visual discovery presented by Ron Rossini on how anyone can make the most of their space and increase yields, regardless of the size, or location of the patch. By growing upward using walls, trellis’ and various support structures everyone can experience the glory of gardening all season long.

As people left the event, the enthusiastic feedback was tremendous.  “This year’s Seedy Saturday was the best ever,” was a common accolade. I also do believe I heard someone say, as they bundled up and ventured back out into the bitterness of the dull, cloudy day, “Spring has arrived.”


April 11, 12 and 13 –The Peterborough Garden Show, organized by gardeners for gardeners.  Friday 5:00 p.m. to 9: p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Evinrude Centre, 911 Monaghan Rd. Peterborough Admission $7, children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult. The Show is jointly organized by the Master Gardeners and the Peterborough Horticultural Soc. Visit www.peterboroughgardens.ca for more information.  

May 31 – Mississauga MG Annual Plant Sale – for full details please refer to our website www.mgmississauga.mgoi.ca

Saturday, June 7 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Niagara-on-the-Lake Shaw Guild Garden Tour.  Tickets: $20.00.  This annual fundraising garden tour will reveal seven more magnificent secret gardens in the lovely Old Town area of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Many varieties of plants, trees, and perennials nestled around historic homes, or looking over the Niagara River will be yours to enjoy along with the courtyard and balcony gardens of a condominium complex.  Some gardens are more formal with trimmed hedges and walking paths throughout while others ramble over large estate acreage.  Master Gardeners will be on site to answer questions.  Tickets can be ordered at the Shaw Festival Box Office 1-800-511-7429.   
Saturday, June 21 – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., rain or shine.  Peterborough and Area MGs 25th Anniversary Garden Tour featuring 10 Peterborough gardens, each with a special feature.  A ‘specialty plant’ sale, art and music in the gardens and there will even be urban chickens.  Tickets are $20.00, which are available at selected members of the Garden Route.  For more information:  www.peterboroughgardens.ca/tour

Sunday June 22 – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Big Brothers Big Sisters Heart of Northumberland Garden Tour – 8 beautiful country gardens north of Port Hope and Cobourg – Tickets $30.00 or $25.00 for 10 or more.  Buses welcome.  Birdhouse Boutique.  Lunch will be available for purchase.  For further information:  905-885-6422 Big Brothers Big Sisters Office or 905-377-9803 Helen Lackey (MG) and BBBS Board Member

M.G.O.I. Summer Workshop - July 19, 20
The registrations for this year’s M.G.O.I. Summer Workshop are already being received by the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture.  There is a great deal of interest in this year’s program, which is:
  • “Biological Communication:  The Mechanism for Success”
  • “The Life of the Tropical Houseplant:  Examining the origins and production culture of the household tropical
A brief Program Outline is on the M.G.O.I. website at www.mgoi.ca, under “Latest News” on the home page and in the news blog under “Workshops”.  We are only able to have two instructors this year, and so are limited in the number of participants, no more than 40.  For this reason, if you wish to attend the workshop, we would recommend registering as soon as possible.  The cost for the workshop is $250.00, and we are pleased to be able to tell you that the Board has approved the request to give each Master Gardener and Master Gardener in Training $50 .00 upon completion of the workshop, to help offset their costs in attending. 
 Although the workshop is held in July when the weather is very hot, consideration is given to having a flexible schedule, and often the indoor sessions are held at the hottest time of the day.  In addition, tents are set up throughout the gardens, with seating and each station has a cooler with ice and water to make sure everyone stays hydrated when outdoors.
A group rate has again been negotiated with the Niagara College and Residence Centre, which is $84.95 plus taxes a night, based on a two-night stay.  This price includes a continental breakfast.  For further information or to make a reservation, please contact mparente@stayrcc.com or by telephone at 1-877-225-8664.  Be sure to mention that you are with the Master Gardener group to be assured of the reduced rate.
If you would like to receive registration information, or have any questions about the workshop, please contact June at streadwick@sympatico.ca or by telephone at 905-934-6137.

June Streadwick
Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc.


New MGiTs

Durham – Gale D'Souza
Haliburton – Susan Kellar
Peterborough – Mike Pineau

New MGs

Durham – Ingrid Janssen
Grey County – Margaret-Ann Brennan
Haliburton – Milka Hider
Niagara – John MacLean, Ruth Moffatt
Toronto – Linda Attridge, Anne Avery, Diana Bavington, Joan Bostock, Petra Donnelly, Wendy Halse, Adrienne Hanbidge, Mary LeQuoc, Laurie Manoim, Patty McKnight, Brigitte Richter. Jacqueline Tilford, Paula Wolfson

5 Years

Grey County – Rebecca Baker
Lanark – Gerda Franssen, Paul Pietsch, Victor Wark
Toronto – Josée Couture, Cathy Kozma, Alan Malcolmson, Christine March, Doryne Peace, Sylvia Sarkus, Sheila Smith

10 Years

Grey County – Jackie Campbell
Haliburton – Anna Holloway, Eileen Hughes, Liz Lilley-Case, Pauline Plooard
Toronto – Barbara Anderson, Jane Beck, Dawn Bell, Eyman Ellen
Peterborough – Chris Tewsley
Quinte Tweed – Alice Lumley

15 Years

Toronto – Catherine Park

20 Years

Brantford – Irma Nicolle
Toronto – Anne Kotyk

25 Years

Toronto – Ann Johnson, Anna Leggatt, Alice Wikaru


Niagara – Dan Cooper (from Toronto)


Durham – Beth Cook, Joan Kerr, Susan Shepherd


On Thursday, March 13th, Mississauga Master Gardeners celebrated their 20th Anniversary with dinner at the Mandarin restaurant.  Certificates of Recognition were presented to founder members: Shirley Daniels, Errol Falconer, Marie Pearson.  Philip Stuart was unable to attend and he received his certificated at a later time.  Shirley Daniels was also presented with a Certificate of Appreciation for her Dedicated Leadership and Outstanding Service in support of the founding of the group.

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