A Worm's Eye View FEBRUARY 2009
by Elena North, Editor
February 17, 2009


The days are longer and, even with all the snow, I know that spring is not that far away. I can sense people just itching to be back outside and gardening again. In the meantime, this is the time to plan what one would like to change or create in the coming year. Do I create a new garden or do I re-do an existing garden and try some new plants or shrubs? Whatever you decide, it is an exciting part of the gardening process.

If you have gardening questions, be sure to drop them into the Suggestions/Comments/Questions tin at the monthly meeting or email Our members have a wealth of knowledge and we can direct you to someone who may be able to help.

Happy reading and don’t forget your 2009 membership!

Kathy Bouma


WANTED: 1-gallon pots for the May 9 plant sale. Contact Kathy Granger (519) 787-2618 or or Julie Kron (519) 843-8303 or if you can help.

The 1st place winners of the photo competition at the January meeting were Betty Knight, Pat Wilcox, Ted VanderVeen, Cathy Kidston and Phil Kidston. The quality of all submissions was outstanding. Congratulations everyone!~

If you have not yet signed up for the March 19 excursion to Canada Blooms, please contact Rienk Vlietstra at (519) 843-5892 or email

To join the outing to Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Nile” at the Fergus Grand Theatre on Friday, March 27, please contact Kathy Bouma (519) 843-7703 - or Fran Binning (519) 843-1640 – .

In the January 2009 issue of Minding Our Business magazine, Julia Tyndale-Biscoe of the BIA called the Society “a benefit… to the Downtown core”. She wrote further: The Diggin' in the Dirt Group is a lovely sight to see on a Tuesday morning! All is right with the world when I see The Diggin' In The Dirt Group around town keeping our gardens in spectacular bloom. Thank you.

The 2008 Winter issue of Adopt-A-Pond's quarterly newsletter, is now online at: This issue is titled Species at Risk and concerns SAR conservation efforts in Canada. A few print copies will be available at our February 18 meeting.


According to The Garden Media Group in the US and Canadian Gardening Magazine, the following trends are in for 2009:

1. Eco-friendly gardening practices, including creating natural habitats for wildlife with native plants that attract birds, bees and butterflies, and going organic.

2. Growing your own or buying locally: Local farmers markets are seeing an upsurge in business, community gardens have waiting lists, and plant swaps like ours are on the rise. If you can’t grow your own this is a good time to register with a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) group. The closest one to Fergus is at Mapleton Organic Dairy. Information and an application form are available by calling (519) 820-1891 or at .

3. Blended gardens: Single species plantings are giving way to mixed gardens where mint and fragrant thyme grow between cracks of stone pathways and strawberries provide edible groundcover around trees. Fruit-bearing shrubs and trees provide colour, privacy and fruitful bounty mingling among veggies and perennials.

4. Native plants. Gardeners are aware of their role as naturalists and conservationists and are looking for native plants that thrive in their own backyards.

5. Water features in the backyard garden. Fountains, waterfalls, or fish ponds bring the soothing sounds of water to any backyard.

6. Drought-resistant plants: Perennials such as stonecrop, lamb’s ears, catmint, lavender and sedum conserve water and add to your landscape. Many such plants are also tolerant of poor-to-average soils.

7. Outside inside. From bean sprouts on kitchen countertops to green walls laden with herbs and micro-greens, plants are decorating spaces as "art- in-motion." Tropical plants like bromeliads and orchids create instant beauty, give a boost of oxygen and clean the air.

8. Being informed. Novices and experienced gardeners are signing up for classes and gardening "how-to" tips. Gardeners are gobbling up information from friends, workshops, local garden media, magazines, and the Internet and sharing their success stories with bloggers and friends.

9. Quick and easy solutions to gardening needs. Containers are no longer a trend but a garden staple in large and small spaces. Natural materials like cast stone and terra cotta containers and accessories are perfect eco-friendly accents.

10. Global colours. Today's main colour influencers are our global connectivity, cultural unity, and environmental responsibility. Gardens will embrace vibrant colours, textures, sights and sounds.


Q&A: At the January meeting there was a question about where to obtain rain barrels.

Rain barrels fitted with valves will be available for purchase at local hardware stores in the spring. The Guelph Resource Centre (GIRC) sells rain barrels and offers instruction on building and customizing them. GIRC’s website also has a page devoted to backyard water efficiency. For more information, go to or call (519) 822-3110. Closer to home, rain barrels are advertised at # 6233 County Road 7, just west of the Tim Horton's in Elora; however, these barrels must be customized.

Bird Sightings: Ted VanderVeen reports seeing Pine Grosbeaks, Sharp-shinned Hawks and the Northern Shrike, as well as many Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins. There have also been reliable reports of 2 Snowy Owls behind Wellington Terrace and a Robin beyond the mill on St. Andrew St. East.


Now’s the time to invigorate your houseplants by removing the top 1/4 inch of soil and top-dressing with fresh potting soil.

Discourage spider mites, which thrive in warm, dry houses, by frequent misting under the leaves of houseplants. A solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good organic deterrent.

Houseplants will be sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year. Provide lots of sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing for plants that seem a little worse for the winter.

Shop early for seeds from catalogues and garden stores for the best choice of seed varieties.

Test the germination of last year's surplus seeds before ordering new ones. Place ten seeds between damp paper towels. Keep them consistently damp and in a dark place. Check germination rates to determine how many seeds to use for your real planting.

To help with your decisions as to seed orders, take an inventory of your preserved foods--in the freezer, in cans, or the root cellars.

Cut poles for peas, beans, and other climbers now. Peel off the bark and set them in a dry area until they are needed.

Keep this in mind while pruning. Fruit usually grows on the horizontal branches, rather than the vertical ones. Vertical branches may be trained to become horizontal by weighting them down for a few weeks. This may also be done in the summer.

Start onions from seed now. They'll be ready for setting out in April. Onions from seed are generally firmer and longer lasting than from sets.

Start parsley indoors now. You may think you have successfully wintered over the plant, but it is a biennial and will soon go to seed.

Take cuttings of wintered-over lantana, coleus, fuchsia, and begonia for plants to be set in May or June.


This month on our website: Ron has an article "Forcing Branches to Bloom Early Indoors". Go to

The Guelph Arboretum’s Course Calendar for Spring/Summer 2009 is available on-line. Offerings in March include The Art and Practice of Pruning and Growing Perennials from Seed.

A site directed at horticulture retailers has a good deal of information for the home gardener as well. For a peek at new varieties that just might show up at our local nurseries in 2009 and suggestions for designing container gardens, take a look at

The Master Gardeners of Ontario now have their own web site with an electronic newsletter that you may subscribe to. Go to for details.

At, Canada Blooms offers a “Flower Power eNewsletter” that’s a gateway to information and resources.


February 18: our monthly get-together, Victoria Park Seniors Centre, 7:30 p.m., “Decorative Landscaping Curbing”

February 25: Elora & Salem Horticultural Society monthly meeting, Heritage River Retirement Community, 25 Wellington Drive, Elora, 7:30 p.m.

March 1: Guelph Master Gardeners “A Day in the Garden”, 9:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, Victoria Road; cost is $30; for reservations call the Master Gardeners hotline at (519) 824-4120 ext 56714 or email .

March 5-8: Stratford Gardening Festival, Stratford Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Road, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; admission $8: contact DeeDee Herman (519) 271-7500 or go to

March 18: our monthly get-together, Victoria Park Seniors Centre, 7:30 p.m., “Perennial Change”

March 19: Fergus and District Horticultural Society bus to Canada Blooms; please contact Rienk at (519) 843-1852 or email .

March 19-29: Successful Gardening Show, International Centre, 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga; admission $14; for more info (416) 512-1305 or email .

March 27: group outing, Murder on the Nile at the Fergus Grand Theatre; please contact Kathy Bouma (519) 843-7703 or or Fran Binning (519) 843-1640 or OUR EMBLEM

The Society’s emblem is the Scotch Thistle (Onopordon acanthium L.), which is also the floral emblem of Scotland. Legend has it an invading force of Vikings was creeping up on a company of sleeping Scottish soldiers when one of the Vikings stepped on a thistle. His cry of pain woke the Scots and the Vikings were vanquished, never to return to Scotland. A grateful nation adopted the prickly purple thistle as its national flower. (source: The Bedside Book of the Garden, Dr. D.G. Hessayon)

A note on botanical names: The 2-part system of naming plants and animals is called binomial nomenclature. In the thistle example, Onopordon is the genus and acanthium the species of the Scotch Thistle. The genus is always capitalized. The presence of L. following a botanical name indicates that it was named by the great Swedish botanist, Linnaeus, who is generally credited with introducing binomial nomenclature in the classification of plants and animals.


Members are encouraged to submit their digital photos to for publication in our e-newsletter. Cheryl Yuill's winter garden is this month's photo.

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