Local gardeners get together to clean their cocoons.

Local gardeners get together to clean their cocoons.

Gardening: Constant of change, either way

Finding accurate horticultural information that is regionally relevant is difficult, if not impossible at times, even on the world-wide web.

It is a completely normal process for the world around us to evolve and yet sometimes those changes, both good and bad, are difficult for us to accept.

Take my oldest daughter Nicole for instance. She is currently climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to celebrate her 30th birthday, and yet when I share this with friends or acquaintances, they almost always say, to a person, that ‘you don’t look old enough to have a daughter that age.’

What I hear is not the intended compliment about looking younger, but a reminder that I am indeed over 50. Personally, I am not convinced that getting older is the way to go, but what choice do we really have in the matter?

Another major change came my way about two weeks ago, when the editor at Gardens West magazine emailed me to let me know that they were in bankruptcy and the publication was no more.

Besides the personal financial loss, the real shame here is that B.C. no longer has a regional gardening magazine, and over the years I have written for Coastal Grower, The Urban Gardener, Build & Green, GardenWise and have watched them all go by the wayside.

I guess I am not really too surprised, given the advent of the Internet. But finding accurate horticultural information that is regionally relevant is difficult, if not impossible at times, even on the world-wide web.

That said, I have seen the writing on the wall for a few years now, during which time I have bolstered my on-line presence with several websites, including www.mikesgardentop5plants.wordpress.com (with more than 3,500 plant descriptions) and www.mikesgardenguide.wordpress.com, where you can find local disease troubleshooting and design ideas for seasonal displays.

So while I mourn the demise of the venerable garden magazine, I have also learned to reluctantly change with the times.

Not long after I heard about the Gardens West demise, I was attending a “Bring Back the Pollinators” seminar at the BCLNA trade show. Here, again, the news was not great and focused around the decline of wild and cultivated bees due to habitat loss, parasites such as Varroa mites, and pesticide use, but particularly neonicotinoids, which are systemic and leave a poisonous residue in the pollen that the bees collect.

The seminar was co-sponsored by the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org), a non-profit group dedicated to preserving invertebrates such as bees and butterflies (among many others) for the betterment of natural and disturbed environments.

I was so impressed with the presentation and their work with replanting milkweed (Asclepias) to help declining Monarch butterflies in the U.S. midwest that I purchased one of their books, Attracting Native Pollinators, which renewed my faith in the printed word and its place in our society.

About a week later, I was helping out at a mason bee seminar, where local gardeners learn about these excellent native pollinators and come to clean their cocoons together.

I was elated to see one lady with two bee boxes so full of cocoons that they started using the sidewall and tops of these for overflow – telling me that at least some local ecosystems are thriving.

Others looking out for our forests include the Pitt Meadows Garden Club, which, along with volunteers, planted native fawn lilies (Erythronium oregonum) in the Pitt River Greenway last Saturday.

This was made possible by matching grants from Metro Vancouver and the City of Maple Ridge and will hopefully rectify the over-picking of this attractive wildflower by people hoping to grow them in their urban gardens – proving that change can go either way.


Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (hebe_acer@hotmail.com).