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Wild Green Garden Consulting
Dear <<First Name>>,
It’s going to be a “buggy” season, at least for the short term. The recent heat and drought has been stressful for our plants. Somehow the insects know and appear to take advantage of weakened plants. I have seen tiny green caterpillars on my wild strawberries, raspberries and some other plants. A search for info points to some kind of sawfly and leafroller. Oh, and I also noticed spittle bugs. And leaf miners on my orach. I will remove them so that the larvae do not establish in the soil. Did I mention the lace bugs on the cotoneaster? Yikes, quite a list already. The good news is that the damage seems to be mostly ornamental. Deep watering the entire yard or spraying chemicals is just not an option. So I prefer to leave the bug control to the wild creatures. The chickadees are busy collecting caterpillars and taking them into a noisy nest box - I’m hoping for a healthy clutch of chickadees!
 
Another neat discovery is the presence of leafcutter bees. I am not a fan of roses, but I manage to work around the prickles of an Explorer rose that has lovely blooms later in the summer. In the attached photo, you can see the perfectly circular leaf segments a bee has cut out to provide its eggs with food after hatching. Native pollinators in the yard are a welcome sign of pretty healthy yard ecology!
Tough Groundcovers
A hard winter and tough spring can be discouraging for gardeners looking forward lush spring growth. Here are some groundcover plants that seem to survive very challenging conditions. I also like them because they are low plants that always look tidy. Native plants listed below are available from the Edmonton Native Plant Group and possibly from Clark Ecoscience. While these plants are not readily available from garden centres, they are well worth sourcing for the long run.
 
Canada Violet: This native violet is a heart-leaved spreader. That means it will move around by rhizomes (and seeds) and would be a bit tricky to remove completely if you didn’t want them. I don’t mind them spreading in my perennial beds because the plants are only about 8 inches tall and have a lovely white spring flower.
 
Three-flowered Avens (aka Prairie Smoke): This clumping native plant has soft leaves in a rosette that are pretty much green when the snow recedes. I love the nodding cluster of pink flowers and the fluffy seed head that follows. The plant pretty much stays put. Similar to Canada Violet, it seems to tolerate part shade and dry conditions.
 
Pussytoes: Another drought-tolerant native is pussytoes. This plant forms a small mat and pops up in dry locations when seeds spread – easy to remove if unwanted.
 
Bearberry (aka Kinnikinik): While technically a shrub, this plant is a great perennial groundcover that spreads slowly in both sun and part shade. Sometimes parts of it die back but it seems to manage very harsh conditions and creeps along very low to the ground.
 
Wild Strawberries: I got a few clumps of these from land that was being developed in the northeast, and it spreads by runners to cover any place where I let it grow. In dry years there is usually very little fruit and even in wet years, the berries are just a tiny tidbit of a treat. The flowers are cheerful and most welcome after a long winter. I’m happy to share if you ever want some.
 
Creeping Phlox: This plant in my yard is not a native variety and available in many garden centres. The foliage seems to be evergreen when the snow recedes. and it blooms profusely in May. It comes in shades of pink, blue and purplish. It prefers full sun and I have noticed it does not compete well with my growing nest spruce. This winter some of it has also died back.
Kids and Permaculture / Homesteading
Summer is a great time to get children involved in growing food or connecting with nature and the outdoors in many ways. I enjoy coordinating a garden club at a school, and recently we made “magic potion”. The children chose 2-4 plants to add to a small jar of water. We had lilac flowers, geranium flowers, sorrel leaves, tarragon, parsley, lovage, lemon balm and mint. Some plants were from the yard, others from potted herbs. Once the selection was made, the children shook the jar and then took a good sniff. Some were satisfied, others added more plant material. One student was chosen to pick one of the jars and we filled a spray bottle with the magic potion. The spray was very refreshing on a hot 29 degree May day!
 
I am not involved with the following camps, but check out the links if you are looking for opportunities to enroll a child in nature adventures.
Good Note Community Farm - Homesteading Camps
Edmonton Permaculture Guild - Children's Permaculture Camp

Happy June Gardening!
 

Claudia Bolli, Wild Green Garden Consulting www.wildgreen.ca

If you would like help with your plans, please contact me for a consultation or design, claudia@wildgreen.ca.
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