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What’s up with our seasons? (Part 2)

Butterfly bush - Buddleja davidii 'Santana'
Credit: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Robert Mineau)
Buddleja davidii 'Santana'
What’s up with our seasons? (Part 2)

In this second segment, let’s look at a few other aspects of the unbalance in the seasons, and ideas for helping our gardens.

When the opportunity presents itself…

Under current conditions, some plants get weaker and others become opportunistic. That’s the case with invasive species that are normally planted for their ornamental or useful value. They being natives of other areas, and finding themselves at the limit of their hardiness zone in Québec, in previous times they couldn’t proliferate. Now they risk multiplying and threatening our indigenous plants, which are slower to adapt. Let’s just mention the case of the butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), an ornamental shrub with noxious seeds now prohibited in British Columbia and in some states on the east coast. With time, our ecosystems could be invaded by additional extrinsic plants, considerably reducing the number of our native species.

Perfect for insects!

More and more invasive insects are attacking plants and trees. Just think of the emerald ash borer, which is decimating ash trees in Québec. With their development enhanced by warming, a number of insects are multiplying more rapidly, going from a single annual generation to two or three – the pine needle scale (Chionaspis pinifoliae), for instance, which attacks different species of pine, including Norway pine. Fire blight or other incurable diseases spread more quickly in springtime conditions that are too warm and humid.

Advice for your garden

How should we react to seasonal unbalance? First, we have to be aware of its impact and be better informed about plant life in our gardens. Avoid invasive plants at all cost, and opt for native species. Think for example of the Norway maple (Acer platanoides), once highly popular but which is no longer recommended because it competes with the sugar maple in southern Québec forests. 

When buying new plants, take the time to educate yourself about them from a number of different sources of information. You’ll have a clearer idea of the true hardiness and the general resistance of these plants to weather conditions in Québec.

Let’s also help established plants and shrubs adapt.

  • In the fall, irrigate your garden thoroughly so that plants can store the water necessary for their survival.
  • During the winter, maintain a good level of snow around plants: the more fragile ones survive better when protected by snow.
  • In both winter and summer, spread mulch around your young plants and your trees; mulch will fight dryness and prevent temperature fluctuations from affecting the roots. This is a way of successfully protecting the most fragile plants.

The unbalance in our seasons will make it necessary for us to change our ways of gardening. Let’s give nature a hand by being vigilant.

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