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  • Tom Cavan

Nature's Way

Along my horticultural journey, many plant species have crossed my path. There was a point while operating the garden centre in Erin that I had surpassed 2,000 varieties of perennials alone, hundreds of trees, shrubs, vines, and evergreens, it was remarkable and I was insatiable. Looking back I truly was the vulture for horticulture but in order to succeed in garden retailing, one had to be at the forefront of all that is new. Even today almost ten years removed from that sector I still look through nursery and seed catalouges to try to keep up with the times, but I now do it with caution. The new breeds of plants coming down the pipeline have all been trial tested before making the grade, but I am a lot more prudent these days until I have witnessed for myself or take recommendations from reliable sources who have experience related to growing in our climate and not the ongoing marketplace promoting anything unsustainable. I have so many experiences where I jumped right in both feet first only to be disappointed in a very short period of time. Looking back I can recall many a species that were touted as the next great thing only to disappear into oblivion. On the other hand, there have been some notable success stories during the evolution of plant breeding, all of which come from native ancestral stalwarts. Buyer beware has never been more meaningful.


The uniformity of Red Sunset Maple with a strong horizontal branching and unsurpassed fall colour is an example of successful x-breeding of native Maples

After all this time I have come full circle and now rely on a much smaller inventory (still mind-boggling) of tried and true, many of which are native species to our Ontario backyard. And to this day I still recapture my adoration of flora in rediscovering indigenous species as our local nurseries have ascertained methods to propagate and grow these wildlings in nursery production with abundant success. This was not always the case in my formative years. But the demands placed upon plant hardiness, diversity, land remediation, low maintenance landscapes, reduced water (and misuse), and the necessity for pollinators have shaped the future. My clients not only accept my recommendations for the introduction of native species, they now insist on integrating wherever possible as 1st choice in planning their properties, no matter what the scale.

I often catch myself repeating " after decades of landscaping I can still count on one hand how many people have asked for high maintenance landscapes."



Here is a perfect example of introducing a border of pollinating wildflowers alongside a driveway with the neigbouring property providing a natural backdrop. This application was implemented with hydroseeding and Mother Nature took care of the rest! 0 maintenance, constant height and colours change throughout the season *proof is in the pudding* these pictures are only the second year after installation. Can't wait to see this evolve naturally.

Every day they walk down to the mailbox is one surprise after another with butterflies and hidden treasures.





Go on your engine search and type in Wildflowers of Ontario, then select your favourites. For beginners go to northernwildflowers.ca where you can get small quantities to begin inoculating your landscape.


When I 1st visit any site my mind goes on auto-pilot evaluating the local vegetation from the ground up. I check my compass to set the benchmark for seasonal exposure. Then take it all in, what is flourishing without human intervention, what is struggling and why? What is being affected by human intervention? Anything that has established itself spontaneously then goes into decline is due to alterations in its environment. Roads, buildings, grading modifications, water table conversion, the symptoms reveal the source. Sometimes it takes a lot of analysis and sometimes it is so obvious you want to scream out loud. Problem-solving our environment is crucial to the future success of all that is nature. So take a look around and chose nature.



Its natures way of telling you summer breeze

Its natures way of telling you dying trees

Its natures way of receiving you

Its nature's way of retrieving you

Its natures way of telling you somethings wrong

Its natures way, its natures way

Song quote: Spirit for the 12 dreams of Dr. Sardonicus 1967

Yes I am bi-product of the 60's



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