What does it all mean?

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Go Native!

If you don't already, consider growing native plants in your garden. Plants are considered native if they originated and are growing naturally in a given area; they have adapted to the soils, the regional climate and wildlife - and will continue to survive climate changes like floods, drought, blizzards and frost. The list of benefits, and plants is long - and worth it in the end. Here's a few reasons why we should all be going native...
 
Reduced Maintenance:
While there is no such thing as a no-maintenance garden, native plants offer a very low-maintenance alternative. Because they are resistant to pests, disease and drought, they don't required the same level of attention that many other tender plants need to survive. Well established natives have deep roots that support them through dry times, they rarely require fertilizer and they help deter weeds and invasive species from moving in and taking over the garden. 
 
Soil and Water Conservation:
The deep root system of native plants increases the soils' ability to store water and keeps that soil where it belongs. Natives also help reduce water runoff; their dense growth and large, lush foliage allow rainwater to drip into the soil rather than pooling around the plant or draining away. Native plants require far less watering than their non-native neighbours need, and they are strong, long-lived plants that rarely need replacing, providing overall good value for your gardening dollars. 
 
Wildlife:
Native plants provide wildlife with the habitat they need to survive. If you grow them, they will come. And stay. Native plants naturally produce the seeds, berries, nuts and nectar that the local wildlife enjoys. Natives provide a protective cover for wildlife - provide seeds, nuts and berries for mammals - insects, seeds and fruit for birds - nectar for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies and host plants for butterfly caterpillars. Plant a swamp or common milkweed; it's the only larval plant that the monarch caterpillar lays it's eggs on - bring monarchs back into your garden!
 
A Garden Full of Beautiful Plants:
There are native plants available for every garden location - sun, shade, water, rock gardens and woodlands. Wildflowers in bloom combined with native grasses and ferns provide a stunning visual in any setting. Many native plants provide impressive, showy flowers, colourful berries, unique nuts and seeds and stunning fall foliage. Plant big bluestem grass, Canada wild rye or sideoats grama. Consider perennials like black-eyed Susan, dense blazing star, wild lupine, showy goldenrod, evening primrose, blooming sedge, coneflower, bluebells or butterfly weed. Ferns include maidenhair, royal, hart's tongue, oak, ostrich and lady - the list is long. There is also an impressive lineup of shrubs, bushes and trees to complete your backyard native oasis.
 
Create a Wetland:
Add water features (or a pond) to your yard to encourage frogs, toads, dragon and damselflies to move in, and to provide a water source for birds and butterflies. These wetland creatures will thank you by working to keep the mosquito population down during the summer season. Use a variety of native plants in the pond, add large rocks and old logs to provide spots to soak up the sun and create mini-wetlands near a smaller water features by planting bog or pond plants in buried plastic containers to keep the roots wet. It won't take long before your wetland neighbourhood starts to fill up.
 
Adding even a few natives into your current landscape each year will help to encourage a healthy and sustainable ecosystem you can enjoy for years to come. Grow a native plant - and save a life!
 
Add Common Milkweed
To Your Garden
 
Common Milkweed produces a profusion of sweet-scented lavender flowers in mid-summer and is the only food source for the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies who feast on the leaves. Milkweed grows in any sunny spot with well-drained soil. It can spread rapidly by rhizomes so it is best planted in a large area with other wildflowers and native grasses. Milkweed  seeds are also spread by the wind, which catches the fluffy part and carries the seed for long distances. It’s an easy-to-grow plant from seed, and plants are usually available at most garden centres – certainly at native species garden centres. Keep the monarch’s alive – and bring a stunning native species into your landscape. 

 

 

 

Grey Squirrel Tree Damage

 
Found throughout North America, the grey squirrel ranges
in lengthfrom 14 to 21 inches and weighsup to 2 pounds.
Grey-coloredwith white undersides andwhite-tipped tails
this speciesrarely travels further than 200 yards from home
in any givenseason. Preferring areas withdenser forest and
tree growth,the grey squirrel spends more time up high
in the trees thanthe ground, resulting in more tree
damage than other ground-loving species.
  
Chewing off tree bark, or bark stripping is a significant concern with grey squirrels. They chew the bark off branches, limiting new growth, and damaging and destroying the young branches; and they chew large areas of bark off tree trunks, affecting the overall health of the tree. Typically occurring in late winter, stripped-off bark sections are quite visible and usually up to 6 inches long and  1/2 inch wide.
 
In the wild, the grey squirrel will consume the tree cones, depriving the forest of the seeds required to re-grow and naturally reseed. Canopy damage becomes extreme as the squirrels move around treetops and create new nests in spring, or feed on top branches and small twigs, causing a safety risk as branches fall to the ground. The crown experiences a constant loss of upper branches, which in turn affects seed production and the trees natural ability to regenerate and properly develop.

In the home garden, protect trees by wrapping wire or metal sheeting 18 to 24 inches above the ground to deter the squirrels from climbing and gaining access to the trunk bark or branches. Use squirrel-free birdseed, move feeders away from susceptible trees, or provide an alternate food source like corn, at a safe distance from any trees at risk. Providing additional food late winter when fresh sources become limited may help keep the squirrels off the trees.

There may never be a full understanding of why grey squirrels chew tree bark. Some theories suggest they may be searching for water or food by eating the inner bark layer, that pregnant females may be responding to pain or that bark stripping is just something that squirrels enjoy doing for no reason at all.

 
 

 
 
Deer Resistant Plants
Looking out the window to see deer frolicking in the distance
is a magnificent sight. However, when the frolicking turns to
feasting on favorite plants and shrubs, the beauty of the view
turns to one of frustration, and the time and dollars needed to
repair, replace or replant the damaged bushes. Fortunately, for
avid gardeners and nature lovers, there are shrubs available
that deer do not put at the top of their favorite food list
and will tend to avoid in search of tastier treats.
 
Flowering Shrubs
 
There are flowering shrubs that deer avoid. Flowering varieties add color to the garden and many attract butterflies and birds to the area. Lilac (Syringa spp.) is a medium to large shrub that produces large, vibrant flower clusters each spring, changing to dark green leaves once the flowering is complete. Lilacs are available in a range of colors including pink, white, purple, blue and mixed. Lilacs are hardy to zones 1 through 12.
 
Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) is a nonstop bloomer and a true butterfly magnet. Growing from 6 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety, the butterfly bush produces an abundance of flowers all season long. Hardy to zones 3 through 9.
 
Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia spp.) grows into a large, mounding shrub, full of long trumpet-like flowers that grow up to 10 inches long. A fast-growing shrub, flower colors include yellow, apricot, pink and white. Hardy to zones 7 through 13.
 
Bluebeard (Caryopteris spp.) sprouts blue blossoms from midsummer until frost arrives. A smaller shrub, bluebeard grows to 4 feet high and wide, depending on the species. Bluebeard prefers full sun, and the other flowering shrubs listed above will grow in sun or part shade. Bluebeard is hardy to zones 4 through 9.
 
Evergreen Shrubs
 
Evergreen shrubs add year-round color to the garden and some are distasteful to deer. Boxwood (Buxus spp.) is a breeze to care for and can be left alone to grow naturally, or pruned and kept at a specific height or shape. A dense evergreen, boxwood grows from 1 foot high for dwarf varieties to 7 feet high for other varieties. Hardy to zones 2 through 12.
 
Holly (Ilex spp.) varieties range in size from 1 foot high to up to 50 feet high. Smaller varieties create low hedges and the larger varieties work well for areas needing privacy or tall hedges. A dense shrub, prune any damaged or weak branches to promote new, healthy growth. Hardy to zones 4 to 9.
 
Mexican orange (Choisya ternata) quickly grows to 8 feet high and wide. Small flowers sprout during spring and summer, and shiny, dark green leaves fill in this shrub throughout the year. Hardy to zones 6 to 9.
 
Coprosma (Coprosma spp.) is a colorful evergreen shrub that spreads to 8 feet high and wide depending on the variety. Needing little water, the leaves on various types of this shrub are variegated with bright color. Hardy to zones 8 to 10.
 
Deciduous Shrubs
 
Various varieties of the Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.) shrub are deciduous and one of many shrubs avoided by deer. Cotoneaster can be a low-growing shrub, or sprout to 25 feet high depending on the variety. Simple white flowers develop in spring and small, glossy leaves cover the plant the balance of the year. Hardy to zones 3 to 12.
 
Spirea (Spiraea spp.) grows to 6 feet high and wide, is easy to grow and adapts to any soil condition. Bridal wreath varieties develop clusters of cascading, white flowers and the shrub types develop small pink or white flowers in the fall. Leaf color varies by cultivar. Hardy to zones 3 to 12.
 
Elaeagnus (Elaeagnus spp.) are fast-growing shrubs that require almost no care. Dense and tough, deciduous varieties have silver-gray leaves that appear to sparkle in the sunlight. This shrub is heat and wind resistant. All varieties listed will grow in full sun or partial shade. Hardy to zones 2 to 12.
 
Shrubs With Berries
 
Attract birds instead of deer to the garden with deer-resistant, berry-producing shrubs. Current (Ribes spp.) plants provide dense growth to 12 feet high and wide, depending on the variety, and drooping clusters of white flowers develop into masses of sweet dark berries. Hardy to zones 2 to 12.
 
Mahonia (Mahonia spp.) is an evergreen shrub, sprouting bright yellow flower clusters that develop into dark bluish berries. The spiny foliage of mahonia can snag and this shrub is best planted away from heavy traffic areas. Hardy to zones 2 to 12.
 
Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.) grows to 6 feet high and wide and produces pink or lilac colored flowers that develop into round, purple fruit. The berries remain on this shrub well into the winter months. Each plant listed grows in full sun or partial shade. Hardy to  zones 3 to 9.