Earth friendly gardening in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, Canada

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Special Interest Gardening

Everything you need to know about construction, maintenance, and design of special interest gardens.

Bog Garden     Bonsai Garden     Container Garden     Rock and Alpine Garden

Water Garden     Xeriscape - Dry Landscape Garden     Wildflower Garden     Companion Planting

     Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden    

Attracting wildlife to your garden is an essential part of gardening.

Attracting Bats     Attracting Birds     Attracting Bees and Other Pollinators     Attracting Hummingbirds    

Attracting Ladybugs and Other Beneficials    Attracting Reptiles and Amphibians    

 Banishing Bothersome Beasts     Creating Botanical Sanctuaries

Many linked articles are written by gardeners and scientists outside of our region but the information there is either universal or can be easily adapted to the climatic conditions in the Kootenays.

 

Kootenay Gardening

Bog garden

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Bog Garden

    Building a bog garden, bog plants, maintenance. Just everything you need to know.
A very good article based on the book by C. Colston Burrell The Natural Water Garden.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden website.
 

Simple Bog Garden

    An interesting idea for creating a bog garden in container. This project takes just a few hours to finish once you have your container, plants, and soil.
Rainy Side Gardeners website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Bonsai garden

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    "Penjing and bonsai are closely related art forms. Penjing is the older form from which bonsai derived. While the similarities by far outweigh the differences, there is a significant variance in scope: Bonsai literally means a tree in a pot and therefore as an art form, bonsai is more narrowly defined than penjing, a landscape in a pot.
The penjing artist's goal is not only to re-create a natural scenery in a container, but to capture its essence and spirit.
Bonsai and penjing may be viewed as objects of meditation. The act of creating bonsai or penjing by itself is a contemplative, meditative exercise - a practice of Zen."  - from the Penjing: Chinese Landscape Bonsai  website.

Articles About Bonsai

    A set of very comprehensive articles on everything you need to know about creating Bonsai.
Evergreen Gardenworks website.
 

Images

    The Bay Area Bonsai Associates (BABA) annual Bonsai shows 2000-2004. A lot of nice pictures of Bonsai art.
Evergreen Gardenworks website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Container garden

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Container Gardening

    "Container gardens are one of the fastest growing segments of gardening. Containers can be grown where traditional gardens are not possible, including apartment balconies, small courtyards, decks, patios, and areas with poor soil. They are an ideal solution for people in rental situations, with limited mobility, or with limited time to care for a large landscape."
    Excellent article by M. Roll and C.R. Wilson on everything you need to know about container gardening: choosing a container, soil, cultural practices, design basics, and more. Some nice pictures, too.
    Colorado State University website.
 

Trough Garden

    Great article on trough gardening: making the trough, preparing the trough for planting, landscaping, and actual planting.
    The Alpine Garden website.
 

Container Gardening 2

    Another good article on container gardening: choosing your containers, growing mixture, sunlight, fertilizing, watering, flowers and vegetables suitable for container gardening.
    Garden Guides website.
 

Container Gardens - Eight Rules

    Eight Rules for Creative Container Gardens.
Article by John Richmond at Garden Guides website.
 

Colorful Container Gardens

    Creating Colorful Container Gardens.
Article by Naomi Mathews at Garden Guides website.
 

Hanging Hummer Baskets

    Heavenly Hanging Hummer Baskets!
Article by Naomi Mathews. Garden Guides website.
 

Deckscaping

    Designing container combinations for your deck. Excerpted from the book Deckscaping by Barbara W. Ellis.
    Garden Guides website.
 

Growing Roses in Container

    A set of short articles on selected topics related to container gardening.
Colorado State University website.
 

Container Water Gardens

    A few nice photo-ideas for creating miniature water gardens in containers.
Colorado State University website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Rock and alpine garden

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    "Gardens in which rocks and plants appropriate to them are the chief landscape elements are called rock gardens or sometimes, if the plants are entirely or mainly sorts to grow naturally at higher altitudes or under sub arctic or arctic conditions, alpine gardens."

Constructing and Planting Rock Garden

    Great article by Alan Grainger, supported by diagrams, on constructing and planting a rock garden.
The Alpine Garden website.
 

Alpine Trough Garden

    Great article by Alan Grainger on trough gardening: making the trough, preparing the trough for planting, landscaping, and actual planting. Very nice pictures, too.
The Alpine Garden website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Water garden

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Water Gardening

    A set of short, introductory articles on topics related to water gardening.
Colorado State University website.
 

Ponds

    Some photos of nice pond designs for your inspiration.
Colorado State University website.
 

Container Water Gardens

    A few nice photo-ideas for creating miniature water gardens in containers.
Colorado State University website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Xeriscape - dry landscape garden

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Xeriscape Gardening

    "XERISCAPE comes from a combination of two words: xeri is derived from the Greek word xeros meaning dry; and scape, meaning view or scene, together they mean a dry scene.
Xeriscaping is landscaping with slow-growing, drought tolerant plants, allowing a conservation of water and nutrients. Xeric landscapes are conscious attempts to develop plantings which are compatible with the natural environment."
Avant-Gardening: Creative Organic Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Wildflower garden

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    You may consider using the whole or part of your site to create a low-maintenance, native wildflower garden or meadow. The plants indigenous to the region are well adapted to local climatic and soil conditions and do not require any special watering or fertilizing. Over thousands of years of growing and evolving there together with other native flora and fauna, they developed resistance to most local pests and diseases. They provide shelter and food sources for other forms of local wildlife, like birds, insects and butterflies and help to preserve, restore and/or create biologically diverse, sustainable ecosystems.
Native shrubs and trees also support wildlife in the garden. Berry bearing plants native to the area are sources of food for many species of birds and small mammals. By growing native plants you may help to increase biodiversity in your area as much as 10 to 50 times. Many wild, native plants can also be used in traditional herbal medicine.

    Native wildflowers are not weeds. They coexist with other

plants on equal basis. Weeds tend to take over. They are usually imported plants that become invasive because there are no natural predators and other controls in their new environment to keep them in check. They take over native habitats. Foreign plants and weeds are pushing native wildflowers to extinction in many areas of the planet, what leads to extinction of native species of birds, insects and butterflies, as well.
    You can select wildflowers to provide a succession of bloom from early spring to the first killing frost. Have a look around which plants are native to your area. It is illegal to uproot wildflowers in British Columbia but there are native plants nurseries that sell wildflower seeds and plants. There are meadow seed mixes made up of fine grasses and wildflowers.
    Don't be afraid to change your almost lifeless and taking too much resources lawn into a meadow teeming with wildlife. Gardening with wildflowers is rapidly growing in popularity. You will not be alone.
 

Wildflower Farm - Wildflowers and Wild flower seed mixes

    Wildflower seed farm located in Coldwater, Ontario, Canada.
You can choose spring, summer or autumn blooms, woodland flowers, dry soil flowers, butterfly, song bird or hummingbird attracting flowers, as well as native grasses suitable for your region in Canada. All plants are hardy through gardening zone 3.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Companion planting

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    Have you ever noticed that some plants grow better
(or worse) when planted together with some other plants?
It looks like for plants it works the same way as it does for us. We also feel better in the company of some people, while company of some others can make us feeling not that well.
    "Some plants exude chemicals from roots or aerial parts that suppress or repel pests and protect neighboring plants. The African marigold, for example, releases thiopene—a nematode repellent—making it a good companion for a number of garden crops. The manufacture and release of certain biochemicals is also a factor in plant antagonism."  ATTRA

Basic Concepts and Resources

    "Companion planting is based on the idea that certain plants can benefit others when planted in near proximity. The scientific and traditional bases for these plant associations are discussed. A companion planting chart for common herbs, vegetables, and flowers is provided, as is a listing of literature resources for traditional companion planting."
Article by George Kuepper & Mardi Dodson at ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service website.
 

Companion Planting Information

    "Companion planting, or intercropping, allows us to take advantage of certain chemical interactions between plants. These interactions can be used to encourage plant growth and health in a symbiotic manner. Every plant releases different chemical agents, either above ground through its leaves, or below ground from its roots."
Avant-Gardening: Creative Organic Gardening website.
 

 

     Attracting Wildlife to Your Garden    

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting bats

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All about Bats

    "Bats are the primary predator of night-flying insects such as moths, beetles, and mosquitoes. A single bat can catch hundreds of insects in just one hour, consuming from 30 to 50 percent of its body weight in insects each night."
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Building a Bat House

    "The scarcity of suitable roosting sites threatens bats' survival. Putting up bat houses is a great way to help bat populations."
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting birds

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    The evergreens at my property are getting bigger and already supply a good shelter for birds.
This year I had a little flock of about ten Chickadees visiting my bird feeder all winter.
I buy for them pesticide free mix of their favoured seeds and clean the feeder every few days, so the feed is always fresh.
It was nice to see those little sparks of life and hear their happy "Dee, dee, dee, dee" amidst otherwise silent nature.
I hope I will have more of those little friends next summer helping me in my holly war against pests.
    Last year, in late spring, I had a small infestation of little, green caterpillars devouring new leaves on my Currant bushes.
One Currant was caterpillar free.
When I looked at it closer, trying to find out what was the reason, I noticed a tiny nest fixed in-between the branches, filled with small, open, hungry throats.
The Chickadee mom, or may be dad, can't say which, was flying around chirping frantically, trying to avert my attention from the chicks.
I quietly retreated, since disturbing them was not my intention.


    It is in the gardener interest to attract birds to the garden.
The damage birds may do is definitely out-weighed by the good they do in the garden.
During the summer months most of smaller wild birds live almost entirely on insects and their larvae. They also feed their young on insect food.
To feel at home birds need sunlight as well as shade, shelter, safety, access to water, and food.
Evergreens, old trees with cavities, and thickets are excellent for their nesting needs.
In addition, the gardener may supply some nest boxes, and place them on trees or, preferably, on poles.
Well built nest boxes should be durable, rainproof, cool and easy to open and clean.
Different birds have different preferences as to the box size, depth, height and size of the entrance, and height the box is placed above ground.

    Birds need security, especially during their nesting season.
The presence of cats or dogs may prevent birds entirely from nesting in the area.
Sometimes mice, squirrels or other bird species may eat or destroy eggs and young nestlings as well.
Bird houses should be protected by putting a sheet-metal guard around the supporting tree trunk or pole.
Water, preferably running, should be always available. If it is provided in flower-saucers or other receptacles it must be kept fresh, clean and cool.
Lack of water may cause birds to eat the fruit in your garden to quench their thirst.
In addition to drinking, birds need water to bathe.

 

Attracting Birds to Your Garden

    "Aside from the colorful distraction birds provide, they also play an important role in pest control.
Nuthatches, woodpeckers, and chickadees clean up the larvae and eggs of gypsy moths and other insect pests of trees. Horned larks devour weed seeds. Owls, using their excellent vision, strong beaks, and sharp talons, are efficient hunters of mice and rats. These are just a few of the many birds who provide an invaluable service in regulating insect, weed, and rodent species.
Birds are also one of the easier forms of wildlife to attract to your backyard. To attract a variety of birds, consider their need for food, shelter, and water."
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Food and Housing

    "There are many possible additions to your backyard that will please the birds.
The dwindling existence of natural cavities can be augmented with a few nesting structures. You can also attract hungry birds by recycling a few household items and filling them with the foods they love. Add instant appeal to your birdbath with a simple trick to create the sound of moving water."
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Bird Fact Sheets

    "Where do most birds gather in Canada? In British Columbia, where you may find 362 species, and in Ontario, where 318 species regularly appear."
Good information on many bird species in Canada.
Hinterland Who's Who website.
 

What Bird

    Great site, the best information, beautiful pictures.
Identify your bird by location, body size, colour or shape.
What Bird? - The Ultimate Bird Guide website.
 

Canadian Biodiversity: Birds

    "Birds first appeared 150 million years ago, branching off from the dinosaurs."
Information on Canada's birds.
Canadian Biodiversity website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting bees and other pollinators

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Attracting Pollinators

    "While some plants, such as grasses, have very light pollen which can be transferred by wind, about 80% of flowering plants are dependant on pollinators to help them transfer their pollen."
Great article on attracting bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators to your garden.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Butterfly Gardening 1

    A good source of information for those interested in growing "flying flowers" in their gardens.
Butterfly Gardening and Conservation St. Louis, Missouri, USA website.
 

Butterfly Gardening 2

    Short, but good article on butterfly gardening.
Missouri Botanical Garden website.
 

Butterflies in Canada

    Butterflies of four different regions in Canada: Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Pictures and some information.
Virtual Museum Canada website.
 

Butterflies of North America

    Great pictures of over thirty North American butterflies, each accompanied by short description.
Photo Gallery by Cirrus Digital Imaging.
 

Butterflies of the World

    Great pictures of butterflies from different regions of the World, each accompanied by short description.
Photo Gallery by Cirrus Digital Imaging.
 

Butterfly Gardens, Victoria, BC

    "Stroll amidst hundreds of exotic butterflies flying free in an indoor tropical rainforest. Witness the entire life cycle of these amazing insects."
Photos and information about butterflies at the Victoria, BC, Butterfly Gardens website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting hummingbirds

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Nature's Wonders

    William Zittrich's matchless photos of "wonders provided for us in nature" - hummingbirds, flowers and butterflies.
Inspirational poems and numerous 'golden thoughts' accompany the images.
 

Attracting Hummingbirds

    Good article on how to attract and keep hummingbirds in your garden.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting ladybugs and other beneficials

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Attracting Beneficials

    "We need to learn to value insects for the vital roles they play in keeping our gardens healthy. Learn to recognize the good guys, because they are essential allies in keeping the bad guys in check. Work with them in creating a well-balanced, vibrant garden."
A very good article on how to attract and keep beneficial insects in your garden.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Bee Bungalow

    "Believe it or not, Canada has about 2,000 species of bees! There are not only honey and bumble-bees but also leafcutter, carpenter, sweat, mason, orchard, and digger bees to name a few. All are important pollinators."
Short, but good, article on how to provide a nesting sites for bees.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Attracting reptiles and amphibians

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Attracting Reptiles

    "Amphibians and reptiles are important in controlling populations of slugs, rodents, and insects. Garter snakes are one of the major predators on slugs. One toad can eat well over 1,000 earwigs in a summer. Attracting these creatures to your garden can therefore be very beneficial."
Great article on attracting frogs, toads, and other creepy critters to your garden.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

Dwellings and Dens

    "Frogs, toads, and snakes. Many people think of these slippery creatures as unwelcome additions to the backyard. The truth, however, is that these critters are handy to have around. Their ability to chow down on insect and rodent pests will keep your garden clean and healthy without the need for harmful pesticides."  
    "Toads are particularly fond of slugs, sowbugs, earwigs, cutworms, and gypsy moths. In fact, nearly 90 per cent of a toad's diet consists of garden pests. In a single growing season, a busy toad can consume more than 10,000 of these uninvited guests."
Great article on how to provide shelter for creepy critters in your garden.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Banishing bothersome beasts

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Banishing Bothersome Beasts

    "While wildlife is usually a joy to behold, there are times when certain species can become annoying at best. It then becomes important to find ways to minimize the damage done."
Strategies for preventing your prize plants from being chewed up.
Canadian Wildlife Federation Wild About Gardening website.
 

 

Kootenay Gardening

Creating botanical sanctuaries

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Creating Botanical Sanctuaries

    "The land where you live is sacred and alive, even if it lies buried under concrete, or has had toxic chemicals poured into it. It becomes our personal responsibility to act to protect the earth and the creatures and plants who share our home and, furthermore, to nurture and protect the expansion of the intelligence of nature. The land will regenerate; the first soil microorganisms and plants will detoxify, purify, and sanctify it. But we need to be willing to help.
Whether you have a small backyard, a working farm, or a tract of wilderness, imagine it as a ‘sanctuary’, a haven for plants, wildlife and people.
We are stewards of the land, caretakers in the deepest sense of the word. By creating sanctuary, we begin to restore the idea that land belongs to all life, that it is life, and that our job is to restore it to its richest diversity.
In the process, you will find out much about health, vitality and your own family’s well being."
Article by Christopher Hobbs and Rosemary Gladstar at Garden Medicinals and Culinaries website.
 

 

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