What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Native plants for Earth Day and every day

What’s Growing at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens: Native plants for Earth Day and every day
By Adrien Rawley, Horticulture Assistant and Educator

As the sun continues to warm the soil, and new signs of spring show themselves, we are reminded of the miracle that is the changing of the seasons. For me, the fact that spring shows up every year, albeit sometimes begrudgingly, is certainly cause for celebration. Often dramatic shifts in temperature, day length, and weather are what it takes to remind us of what is happening in the natural world.

With the growing excitement of a new gardening season approaching, take a moment to think about incorporating some native plants into your garden this year. On Saturday May 5 from 9:00am until 12:00pm, gardening enthusiasts from across the province will gather at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens to browse native plants, learn about the Acadian Forest Region, and connect with each other. Our incredible volunteer group has been lovingly working to grow hundreds of native plants that are now awaiting new homes. Once these plants follow you home, they will help improve biodiversity and support local wildlife.

In a spirit that extends far beyond Earth Day, we are shifting our growing methods for our annual sale to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. We are moving towards reduced use of plastic growing pots! This year you will find our plants in coir (coconut fibre) pots that can be placed directly in the soil when planting. This reduces transplant shock, allows us to reuse plastic pots repeatedly for nursery growing, and decreases our impact on the Earth.

Also new at this year’s sale, we are thrilled to be offering only second-year plants that are ready to be planted as soon as you get them home! No more first year, greenhouse-grown tender plants that need hardening off! These plants have already experienced winter and will be ready to wake up for spring just as you plant them. As we all know, perennials may not look like much before they leaf out and start growing, but when the time is right they dazzle us with their beauty! We are confident that these plants will be stronger, healthier, and transition to your garden happily.

Other wonderful offerings at our plant sale include native trees, shrubs, ferns, perennials, and more, from Baldwin’s Nursery, Fernwood Plant Nursery, Beneath the Boughs Woodland Nursery, and Helping Nature Heal. Valley Waste Resource Management will be on hand as well with useful backyard composting information.

Another new addition to our annual sale will be a table from the Botanical Artists of Nova Scotia Association. They will be offering a sneak preview of their “Nova Scotia Native Flora in Art’’ exhibit that’s opening on May 18 at Acadia University. This show is part of a greater, Canada-wide exhibit showcasing botanical art of native plants in eastern, central, and western Canada. These regional exhibits complement an even greater international exhibit with artists from around the world sharing their depictions of the native plants of their region. More information on the Canadian and international exhibits can be found at artoftheplant.com. We are delighted to have the beautiful work of local artists adding colour to our celebration of native plants this year.

You can look for the friendly faces of our volunteers at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market on Seedy Saturday, April 21. They will be promoting our plant sale and sharing their enthusiasm for the upcoming gardening season. They may even have some happy little plants to send home with you!

Every day is Earth Day at the Botanical Gardens, and with so many ways to celebrate the beauty of the natural world we live in, let us come together in our gardens, and our minds, to give back to the beautiful planet we call home. We can nurture and support a healthier planet together, one plant at a time.

Native Plant Sale: Saturday May 5 from 9:00am until 12:00pm
Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens
Acadia University