Home Grown Nurseries

Story by Heather Rennalls

Brooklyn and her partner Elmer who she says is “a Master Gardener,”reside on their almost one acre property in Elgin County with their lovely gardens. Brooklyn browses garden books and has taken garden courses over the years through the RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) in Hamilton, Mohawk College and the University of Guelph.

Strolling through their gardens, one would think you were touring RBG. When seeking advice from Brooklyn about what to grow in my gardens, I felt like I was getting a diagnostic done on my car. She needed to know what time and how long the sun shone in parts of my gardens, the direction of my property and the soil type. With the results, Brooklyn supplied me with a list of plants growing in all season, in the fall and in full sun or in shady areas. I lack colour in all season in my gardens so this will be beneficial.

Brooklyn also provided a list the following plants grown on their property; some are native and attract bees and butterflies with a long season of bloom:

  • Echinacea (coneflowers)
  • Asceplias (butterfly weed)
  • Salvia (sage)
  • Nepeta (catmint)
  • Liatris (gayfeather)
  • Asters
  • Sedum
  • Monarda (beebalm)
  • Lupines
  • Rudbeckia (black eyed Susans)
  • Baptisia (blue false indigo)
  • Agastache
  • Eutrochium purpurea (Joe Pye Weed)
  • Eupatorium rugosum (chocolate bonesets)

Brooklyn reported that “most nurseries, like Ontario Native Plants, will carry different cultivars of the above species and also some that are the true native plant.”

However, not everyone is a wildlife biology and/or ecologist expert like Ben or have the expertise like Esmeralda, Brooklyn and Elmer about native gardening. For those wanting information on how to grow native plants and what they are, the website In the Zone Gardens assists with this. For instance, from this website I learned that southern Ontario is part of the Carolinian Zone which is “a hotspot for biodiversity.” Nowhere else in Canada are “there more species of rare plants and animals including the Blanding’s turtle, southern flying squirrel, rusty patch bumblebee and monarch butterfly.” (Source)

In the Zone Gardens website provides the tools to transform one’s green space into a thriving native wildlife oasis. By joining you can access free gardening resources and download information on how to grow and flourish wildflowers, woodland and wetlands. There is also a Zone Tracker to monitor your progress.

Another insightful resource can be found on the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority website.  Community Partnership Specialist, Brad Hertner, another contributor at the Future Oxford Expo 2017, who had numerous information sheets on native plants and trees to hand out to the public.

Staff from Upper Thames River Conservation Authority have complied lists on native species of trees, shrubs and plants to plant. The lists are below:

Heather Rennalls, Historical Researcher, Freelance Writer, Photographer & Blogger, has been a researcher and writer since 2000. She has published numerous articles that have appeared in The Woodstock Sentinel Review, The Oxford Review, The Norwich Gazette newspapers and in the Tourism Oxford 2005-2006 Discovery Guide. She was a Guest Blogger for Tourism Oxford for the Blog “Black History Month – Remembering Oxford’s Past” posted January 30, 2014 and was a Freelance Writer & Photographer for Oxford Media Group from 2013 to 2014. In June 2014, Heather launched her website and blog Heather’s Historicals at: http://heathershistoricals.weebly.com/. Heather was also a Volunteer Web Reporter for Reforest London in May 2015.