“Nature-based solutions” might sound like it belongs on the side of a gardener’s van, as an editorial in the esteemed journal Nature observed. Nevertheless, the new buzz phrase reflects gardeners’ growing concern with the environment and climate change in particular. Hence drought and flood-proof plants will become more popular this coming season, tough plants that can stand up to extremes. Look also for more offerings in container plantings as gardens shrink in area while decks and patios increase.
Diversion No. 1
It’s early in the snowdrop season, so you might have to look closely to see some of the blooms, but they only get better—and brighter—from here. At last: winter is officially on its way out The Sunday Telegraph suggests on the 22 of the best places to see snowdrops in Britain. In Canada, does anybody really want to see more white after this winter?
A vaseful of golden daffodils brightens the room, reminding that winter woes re almost over. The problem comes when they are mixed with other blooms and greenery. The slimy sap they dribble is toxic to other blooms, shortening their life. “Change the water every couple of days and you are washing any nasty sap away,” top Auckland florist Davina Prankerd told the New Zealand Gardener
What about the houseplants? Jane Collins, CBC Life, writes of 15 stylish indoor planters for every budget and style, from $12 to $267. Hold on there, Jane. We’re looking at the plant not container. When in doubt, choose a traditional terracotta clay pot and saucer. They are inexpensive, show off the plant perfectly and—better yet—reduce the risk of overwatering.
Diversion No. 2
When they are chewed by insects or other small animals, many plants react by releasing odours to attract the insect’s enemies. A new study reveals that the odour bouquet changes depending on the type of herbivore that eats the plant. To the surprise of the researchers involved, native plants can even recognize when they are eaten by exotic herbivores. In this case, they emit a specific odour bouquet. The research appeared in the journal New Phytologist.
Will it or won’t it be an early spring? Ontario’s Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam predict spring is just around the corner. In the West, Winnipeg Willie and Alberta’s Balzac Billy go along with Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil all disagree saying winter isn’t over yet. However, Environment Canada’s weather wonks point out that groundhog forecasts are only 37% accurate. Professional jealousy, perhaps?
Diversion No. 3
After all Prince Charles’ doom-mongering, Camilla says climate change will make British wine better during an event celebrating the industry [The Daily Mail]
As Ottawa continues to consider legalizing cannabis, some wits have suggested that there should be a federal plebiscite on the legalization of marijuana. It could be called a referendum. Meanwhile, south of the border, it has been claimed that the U.S. marijuana question could be settled by a joint session of Congress. It could prove to be a growing problem, some say.
Diversion No. 4
A newly discovered wasp victimizes gall wasps by modifying their behaviour and tunneling to freedom through their heads. It’s a rare example of a parasite infecting a parasite, a process known as hypermanipulation, according to a study by scientists at Rice University published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B
So much more to celebrate this month than St Patrick’s Day on 17th March. But never iron a four-leaf clover. You don’t want to press your luck. Before that, on the 12th March, it is Plant a Flower Day, obviously devised by someone not residing in higher latitudes. The 25th is Pecan Day, the followed by Spinach day on 26th while Weed Appreciation Day falls on 28th. Back a week it is UN International Day of Forests and International Fragrance Day on 21st. And if all this is not enough for you, the day before that also features a double header: UN International Day of Happiness as well as National Aliens Abductions Day. Oh yes, Ogden Nash reminds us:
Indoors or out, no one relaxes
In March, that month of wind and taxes,
The wind will presently disappear,
The taxes last us all the year.
Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.
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