Author: Marion Robertson

People have been inquiring to the meaning of our wish list. Isn’t it just an order form? My answer is yes and no.

Prior to opening our nursery here, at Bee Sweet Nature Co, I would place my plant orders, well in advance, with growers and get disappointed every year because some items were ,’sold out’. The reality was my order was edged out by a bigger order. Not fair! I understand that from a business point of view it makes money sense to fill your bigger orders first and then work down the list. But it is not fair to all the customers rejected because their order wasn’t big enough.

I hated that yearly disappointment – so I created our Wishlist. It is strictly a first come first serve listing. We date all customer plant wish list requests and they are notified after our winter survival assessments. We contact everyone on the list from earliest to latest wish list dates. When everyone has been served on the list then we open up our remaining stock to the general public or our off site spring sales. Doesn’t that sound more fair?

Avoid disappointment. Get on the Wishlist 2020.

Initiatives

Our greatest pride, for our nursery, is being totally organic. No use of pesticides. Sometimes this is not the easiest course of action but it certainly feels like the most correct one.

I just need to look at all our honeybees and native bees for encouragement. It is not about what our competing nurseries and garden centers are doing. It is about creating a product that you can truly be proud of and knowing your footsteps are a little lighter on Mother Earth.

We are all in this together. Please be organic and no spraying.

Our last posting talked about not using synthetic fertilizer. Actually, we allow the plants to fertilize themselves through fungal soil inoculation. Making no sense? The fungi live symbiotically with the plant roots and access Nitrogen from the surrounding soil in exchange for some plant carbs. This process creates plants more resilient to climate change through the use of mycorrhizal communities underground.

You see – Nature always knows best!

There are several reasons we do not use fertilizer, at all, on the farm or for the nursery. Fertilizer causes fast growth which leads to incorporation of air into the woody structure. This leads to weaker woods which will not be able to withstand climate change freak weather events.

HERITAGE WHITE OAK AT 300 YEARS OLD

Beyond plastic pollution in our oceans there is international scientific evidence spotlighting the degradation of our oceans concerning lower concentration levels of oxygen. Climate change and increasing temperatures is one culprit.

The second culprit is fertilizer runoff. Don’t ever think that what we do in Ontario does not affect our oceans. Everything drains into the Great Lakes that leads to our oceans.

THINK GLOBAL!

Absolutely everything we do at the nursery is driven by climate change and based on recent science. As climate change induces more violent weather events we need to grow our trees to withstand this weather.

Wind action on trees is a natural phenomenon that helps build plant wood structure and roots. We do NOT stake trees in order to maximize wood and root structures.

Potted stock

THINK SPRING – our nursery is open and you can contact us anytime about your planting needs. You can always preorder your spring wish list to avoid disappointment.

As we build our new website, customers are asking many interesting questions. Top of the list is what separates us from the rest of the pack. There are at least 25+ answers. So let’s get started.

First and foremost, we are solely Ontario sourced seeds. Absolutely all our stock is grown from hand collected seeds derived from Ontario. Just because growing and gardening centers advertise native stocks does not mean that these stocks are Ontario sourced. In fact, many native stocks are imported from the States and resold here.

BUYER BEWARE – ALWAYS ASK IF YOUR PLANT PURCHASE IS ONTARIO SOURCED. BE ONTARIO PROUD.

recycled plant pots

Many of our customers ask us about the funky pots at our nursery. To some people they look unprofessional and helter skelter but to us they are our badge of honor. We ask clients to bring back all pots and containers so that they can be reused, again and again, until they fall apart. Only at this time do we take them away to be recycled. Just one way our nursery walks a little softer on the Earth and implements low impact practices.

People assume that work at a nursery stops once the trees go dormant. Far from it. As a matter of fact, I am still seed collecting for next year. We are now harvesting the conifers, such as the fir. We hand collect all our seeds that we use at the nursery. Proud to say that all stock is Ontario sourced.

Conifer cones

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Check out our amazing artisan soaps. We have, also, launched a new line of specialty soaps. Great stocking stuffers.

People are asking what the logo we are sporting on our website is about. The ‘In the Zone’ program is a joint venture between Carolinian Canada and World Wildlife Fund to connect citizens and gardeners to healthy landscapes, trails and gardens. The ‘In the Zone’ program wants to celebrate our native plants and wildlife. When you join this program you can receive free gardening resources.

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In a previous blog, I mentioned the Whorled Milkweed. Even though there are 72 native milkweeds throughout North America, of which 7 are native to Ontario, we only ever see 3 types being offered for sale by growers and garden centers. Why? In most instances, the other varieties of milkweed had been eliminated from the landscape. We decided to bring some of these species back.

One of the first reintroductions was the Whorled Milkweed. Germination of this plant was great and it grew well. We were delighted to enter on our online inventory 80 plants for sale…….then the Monarchs found us. They laid eggs, not once, not twice, but three times on these new plants. In frustration, I had to tarp the plants to discourage any further egg laying by the Monarchs and pull the 80 plants from the inventory.

So by pooling our observations and doing some research we began to understand the Monarchs behaviour. Firstly, most butterflies will lay eggs on tender, young plants and growth compared to older plants. The Whorled Milkweed has very slender, tender leaves that the Monarch find undeniable. The female butterfly seeks this kind of milkweed out even though swamp, butterfly weed and upland milkweed are present.

The Monarch and nature taught us some lessons this year and we will be more prepared to grow Whorled Milkweed next spring. Who knows, maybe next year we might even be able to sell it!