leaf Click here for pricing and availability another leaf
Call us: 1-866-640-8733

Species of the Month: Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)

As we move into the hotter months of the year, one can’t help but wonder what they might plant to prepare for dry soil conditions. Sure, ideally a good amount of moisture would make for excellent gardening, but if you like to be prepared, and want to plant something that will do well in dryer, shadier area, then you might consider checking out our June Species of the Month, Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). This resilient plant does well in conditions that might not be so favourable to other plants, and it’s not bad to look at either. This plant is the perfect options to help cover some ground in your garden in some of the more difficult spots.

Cover some Ground

Like we said, Bush Honeysuckle is a good choice if you’re looking to cover some ground in the garden. In the size

image of: bush honeysuckle (diervilla lonicera)


department, this plant is no slouch, with an average height of 1-1.2 metres (3-4’) and a spread of 1-1.5 metres (3-5’). Plant some of this in your garden, and you’ll have covered a substantial portion of land. Not to mention, the plant will look magnificent when it blooms into a beautiful yellow, with shades of red, orange or purple. Not only is the plant great at filling space, but it will add a splash of different colours to your garden as well.

Low Maintenance

Bush Honeysuckle is a very easily grown plant, as it doesn’t require much maintenance. It performs best in well drained soils, but will tolerate poor, rocky or sandy soils, as well as urban pollution. Additionally, the plant will perform well whether it’s in direct sunlight or in partly shady areas, meaning there’s a wide swath of locations where you can plant it and still be successful.

Hummingbirds Love It

Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla Ionicera) is also often visited by hummingbirds (and other seed eating birds). They love image of: bush honeysuckle (diervilla lonicera)to flutter by and check out what tasty treats they can find in the centre of the bell-shaped flowers Bush Honeysuckle produces. Plus, Bush Honeysuckle is excellent for massing to assist with erosion control!

If you’re concerned about the possibility of a hot and dry summer ahead of us, then we implore you consider planting some Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera). This pretty plant will allow you to cover some more difficult areas of your garden, so you can create a visually cohesive experience. Interested in learning which plants will pair nicely with this one? Check out our blog on plant pairings right HERE.

There’ll be more on Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) this month, including interesting facts and a Species Profile video, so stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube so you don’t miss a thing!

Leave a comment

How to Pair Your Plants

One question we hear all the time is, “how do I know which plants to pair up in my garden?” We get it…with so many different species of plants, creating a cohesive garden can be a somewhat daunting task. We want you to take the beauty of St. Williams home with you, that’s why we’ve come up with this simple guide to help you get started on pairing your plants. Let’s get started.

Pair by Colourimage of: Plants paired by colour

Did we say simple, or what? The first way to pair up your plants is the most obvious, but doesn’t always occur to some people. There’s no need to overcomplicate things, try pairing up some plants based on their colour scheme. If the colour of two plants is pleasing to look at, then they’ll add some immediate flare to your garden for sure! Take St. John’s Wort (Hypericum ascyron) and Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis) for example. The bright yellow pistil of the Canada Anemone is highlighted by the vibrant petals of St. John’s Wort. People passing by won’t be able to help but glance at your beautiful, colourful garden if you plant these or a similar pairing together!

Pair by Height

Think photo day at school – tallest in the back, shortest in the front. There’s a reason photographers do this, right? imageo of: plants paired by heightThe same basic principle can be applied when planning out your garden. It’ll be difficult to see any low growing plants if they’re planted amongst other plants of a similar height, and if you want to be able to quickly pick out what you’ve grown, that just won’t do. Take this ‘low grow meadow’ garden for instance. Side-Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) – standing at 2.5’ tall – has been planted in the back. In the middle, we have Upland White Aster (Solidago ptarmicodes) – coming in at an average of 1.5’ – and finally, Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) – sitting at just around 1’ – has been planted in the foreground for everyone to see. This style of pairing not only shows off a variety of colours, but leads the eye from the tallest plants, right down to the delicious Wild Strawberry, ending on it’s succulent, red fruit.

Pair to Attract

If you want to add another element to your garden entirely, consider planting not only for yourself, but our friends the image of: plants paired by attractionpollinators as well. In this example, we can see that Brown Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) have been planted to attract butterflies to the garden. Each of these plants is a favourite of pollinators and planting them together will nearly triple the likelihood that you’ll see some fluttering guests in your garden. Butterflies aren’t the only pollinator in need of a place to rest and feed though. Check out our piece on pollinators right HERE for other plants that bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies are sure to stop by if planted.

Of course, these are just a few ways that you can go about pairing up plants for your garden. Other things to take into consideration are: what type of soil, sun exposure, and water level you’re working with, and which plants will thrive in those conditions. We hope this has helped you when making your decision of what to plant in your next garden or landscaping project and, of course, if you need any more recommendations, we’re here to help.

For more on everything involving native Ontario plants, stay tuned to stwilliams.com, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube so you don’t miss a thing!

Leave a comment

Species Profile New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

It’s finally here! The weather has taken a turn for the better, and that means that Southern Ontarians are looking forward to (optimistically) five months of beautiful, bright, sunny days to spend out in their gardens. To celebrate this, we’ve selected a plant that does best in full sun conditions to showcase as our May Species of the Month. The gorgeous New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) will bloom into a beautiful white flower in the proper conditions, and is the perfect way to say, “bring on the sun!”


New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) can grow to be between three to four feet high, and will spread across image of: new jersey teathree to five feet, making itself a great plant to cover some ground in your garden. It performs best in dry soil, shallow, rocky soil, or in drought conditions, so it truly doesn’t need that much water to thrive. What this plant does need, however, is sun. New Jersey Tea will soak up sunlight all day long, and in return, will produce beautiful, showy, white flowers that will add a lovely fragrance to your garden as well.

Did We Say Dry?

That’s right, New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well drained soils. The reason for this is that New Jersey Tea has thick, woody, red roots that go deep in to the soil and help the plant withstand overly dry conditions. Make sure you know exactly where you want to plant it though. Once these roots set up shop New Jersey Tea becomes very difficult to transplant.

What’s In a Name?

New Jersey Tea is a dense, rounded shrub that blooms cylindrical clusters of tiny white flowers on long stalks at the stem ends. It starts to bloom in late spring, and young twigs are noticeably yellow and stand out in the winter. Dried leaves from the plant were used as a tea substitute (without caffeine) during the American Revolutionary War, which is where the plant’s common name, New Jersey Tea, comes from. The plant also works wonderfully as a cut flower.

Pollinators Will Thank You

As is the case with many plants that we write about at St. Williams, New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) image of: Ceanothus americanusattracts pollinators. While we’ll be the first to point out the importance of saving the bees, New Jersey Tea tends to attract hummingbirds and butterflies first, so if you’re interested in a picturesque garden rich with colourful, fluttering butterflies and adorable hummingbirds, then you should seriously consider adding New Jersey Tea to your garden this spring.

We couldn’t be more excited about the warm weather on the horizon, and think you’ll agree that New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is the perfect flower to welcome the sun into your garden. For more information on availability of the plant click here.

There’ll be more on New Jersey Tea this month, including ‘Fast Facts,’ ‘Did You Know,‘ and a ‘Species of the Month’ video! So stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com, and our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.

Leave a comment

We’re getting closer and closer to planting season, and the question that’s on everyone’s mind is: “what can I add to image of: prairie smoke (geum triflorum)my garden to put those winter months behind me?” Even though we’re a few weeks into spring, the weather can still feel a bit December-ish. Well, we’ve got an answer for you. Our April ‘Species of the Month’ is the Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum), and it’s a low-growing plant with showy flowers that does best in dry soil conditions. If you’re looking for a plant that’ll help you transition into spring, then this is the one for you.

Smoke on the Prairie

One of the most notable characteristics about Prairie Smoke is its unique, drooping flowers. These flowers bloom into a reddish-pink to light purple colour in late spring. These are truly a beautiful sight when you have a section of the ground covered in Prairie Smoke, but what’s maybe even more interesting are the fruiting heads that follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate to form upright, feathery gray tails which image of: prairie smoke (geum triflorum)collectively resemble a plume or feather duster. This is what gives the plant its name, ‘Prairie Smoke,’ as it can resemble a plume of smoke wafting over a field.

The Drier the Better

Talk about shaking off the winter blues. This plant not only blooms into a very springy pink colour, it actually thrives in drier conditions. Prairie Smoke is best grown in dry, well-drained soils in full sun. The plant will tolerate light shade, and during the hotter days, prefers some afternoon shade, but for the most part is averse to full watering. Prairie Smoke may be grown in medium moisture, but the plant will almost surely die out if it’s subjected to wet winter soil conditions.

Garden Uses

Like many of the plants we grow at St. Williams, Prairie Smoke is a friend to the bumblebee, and other potential image of: prairie smokepollinators that are strong enough to get into the flowers. The ripe seeds produced by the plant are quite fragrant as well and has been used to make perfume. Because it’s drought tolerant and prefers dry conditions, Prairie Smoke is an excellent choice for planting on a green-roof if you’re looking to make your building more energy efficient. Prairie Smoke is low-growing and plays well with a selective group of plants. It makes a great accompaniment to a rock garden or to other low-growing species, such as: Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis), Nodding Wild Onion 9Allium cernuum), Cylindrical Blazing Star (Liatris cylindracea), Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinecea pallida), and Upland White Aster (Solidago ptarmicoides).

If you’ve started planning your low-growing gardening or landscaping project for this year, you don’t want to miss out on the beautiful, and aromatic Prairie Smoke (Geum Triflorum). Gazing at your garden every day will serve as a stark reminder that we’re through the cold months and are ready to enjoy the warm weather of spring and summer…Just like this fuzzy little plant.

For more info, and to order our species of the month, click here. There’ll be more on Prairie Smoke this month, including ‘Fast Facts,’ ‘Did You Know,‘ and a ‘Species of the Month’ video! So stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com, and our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.

Leave a comment

Go Wild Grow Wild with Carolinian Canada in London on April 7

St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre is thrilled to be returning to Go Wild Grow Wild, taking place Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Metroland Media Agriplex, Western Fair District in London, Ontario.

This incredible event, put on by Carolinian Canada brings together the region’s businesses, experts, organizations, and groups in one massive event!  The Go Wild Grow Wild Expo will inspire you with incredible information, interactive workshops, live demonstrations, and much more!  New features this year include the Green Living Zone image of: go wild grow wild logoand Wild Green Marketplace.  Admission is $5 and Children under 12 are free.  Tickets are available at the door or they can be purchased online HERE.

The St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre booth will feature a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees available for purchase.  For a list of our availability at the show, please CLICK HERE.  Please note that our availability is limited and once species are sold out we will not be able to restock them.

One of our favourite features at Go Wild Grow Wild are the incredible workshops offered all day long.  2018 features a huge line up that includes a variety of speakers that will discuss pollinators, wildlife, native plants, and many more environmental topics.  To see a full list of exhibitors, CLICK HERE.  Note that this schedule is subject to change.

We’re looking forward to seeing you this Saturday at Go Wild Grow Wild!  Don’t forget to stop by the St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre booth to check out our native plants and say hello to our staff.

Leave a comment

Earlier this month, a collection of staff members from St Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre hit the highway to attend the Shifting the Paradigm Forum 2018 presented by Carolinian Canada and World Wildlife Fund – Canada (WWF). The forum was targeted around the growth of the native plant industry in the Carolinian Zone….which was music to our ears here at St Williams. The organizers’ intentions were to bring key stakeholders to the forum in order to promote collaborations, share ideas, and foster relationships which can and will help to achieve this common goal.

The day was filled with inspirational presentations and commentary from a wide array of perspectives and personalities within the native plant industry. The day was kicked-off with an eye-opening presentation by Dr. Dan Longboat from Trent University into the Indigenous Perspective of reconciliation with the land. It was very interesting how the traditions shared by generations of indigenous people have been both prophesizing and cautionary. We must remain conscious of what the land is telling us, and how we must reciprocate within the relationship.

Dr. Longboat was followed by our own Allan Arthur, President of St Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre. Allan gave a image of: Allan Arthurgreat synopsis on the current state of the native plant industry in Ontario, and the challenges that we face every day in enhancing biodiversity though the propagation and restoration of source-identified native species.. We know that Allan could have talked for days on the matter, but he was able to condense his synopsis nicely into a 30 minute presentation that fit the day’s agenda.

Following Allan’s presentation, we were treated to a number of panels with representatives from all different walks of life in the native plant industry. We heard from a panel that discussed the integration of native plants into the overall green space industry, with representatives from the private sector (Tony DiGiovanni, Landscape Ontario and others), the public sector (Patricia Landry, City of Toronto and others) the not-for-profit sector (Kathleen Law, Pollinator Partnership and others) and as well as  the social finance sector. It was a coming together of these four sectors to discuss how a collaboration could work to introduce more native plant diversity into the local landscape. The next panel discussed stories from the frontline, as native plant author and guru Lorraine Johnson moderated a great discussion amongst growers in the native plant industry, focused on the trends that they have seen emerge over the past decade. The third panel introduced another set of perspectives to discuss just how this need for native plants restoration may lead to greater business opportunities in the market.

The end of the night included a great networking session, which was highlighted by a presentation from St Williams’ image of: Stefan Weberown Stefan Weber (PhD Candidate) on the need for a native plant sourcing and distribution network in Ontario. We felt that Stefan’s presentation did a great job of closing the loop on the day’s discussions. It really showed how many of the individual goals that we discussed throughout the day, could in fact be achieved through collaborative regional seed conservation strategies Stefan’s presentation was followed by a panel that discussed investment in the conservation sector. The panel highlighted that funding is available to the sector, whether it be through private equity investment, or social financing opportunities. The metrics are dependent on the fund/investor, but it was noted that the interest is there, to support what we at St Williams believe is the right thing to help protect our local ecosystems, and the services they provide us.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth and comprehensive into the day, be sure to check out the article written by Ecoman at http://ecoman.ca/carolinian-canadas-paradigm-shift-unites-industry-to-take-native-plants-mainstream/


Written by: Chad Asselstine, Business Development

Leave a comment

At the time of writing this, it’s officially spring. While it might not quite feel like it outside yet, warmer weather is on the horizon, and the days are already brighter for longer periods of time. The ground may still be a little hard, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t think about what’s going to be gracing your garden this year. In fact, we think that now is the perfect time to think about some of our favourite early bloomers that we grow here at St. Williams. Plants like Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) not only bloom early but have practical applications in your garden, like acting as a great border or edge plant, so it pays to think about adding them to your next project. If you’re like us and can’t wait to get back outside and get to gardening, then consider one (or a few) of the following species when planning your spring planting.

Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii)

You may have seen Sullivant’s Milkweed featured in this month’s Species Profile as our Species of the Month. One image of: sullivant's milkweed fast factsof the reasons this plant was singled out, is that it’s relatively early-blooming, and easily grown. Once it begins to blossom, Sullivant’s Milkweed produces beautiful pink flowers that just scream springtime. It’s the perfect addition to your spring project, and pairs up well with grasses like Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis), or Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans).

Practical Applications

Speaking of practical applications, we aren’t the only ones that love this plant. It’s a favourite of pollinators as well, which – as we’ve previously pointed out – is incredibly important. Planting some Sullivant’s Milkweed in your garden this spring will not only add a dash of season appropriate pink but will aid you in doing your part to protect our precious pollinator population.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Another of our favourite early bloomers is the Wild Strawberry. This flowering herbaceous perennial will start to image of: wild strawberrybloom in the late spring and will continue to spread by creeping stolons (horizontal stems) all summer. Typically, Wild Strawberry is found in patches in open fields, waste places, and dry openings. This pretty little plant blooms into a gorgeous white flower with a healthy dose of yellow in its pistil.

Practical Applications

Wild Strawberry is an excellent groundcover species and provides a beautiful carpet of foliage. Once the plant is established, it can be successful in crowding out weeds and other invasive species. Additionally, Wild Strawberry can be used for naturalizing and woodland gardens, and as we mentioned before, is perfect for border edging. As if these weren’t enough practical applications, you may have guessed that a plant named ‘Wild Strawberry’ produces something edible, and you’d be right. Fragaria virginiana does produce a small, tasty strawberry which can be ingested by humans and animals alike. It’s not uncommon to see various birds, squirrels, and chipmunks enjoying the fruit. Plus, the Wild Strawberry is another pollinator preferred plant.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)image of: wild geranium

Wild Geranium is a plant that you’ll certainly want to keep in mind when planning your spring garden project. This plant practically begs for sunny days with its colours that range from pale to deep-pink, and in some cases, lilac to deep-purple. Wild Geranium is a tough plant that will adapt to many growing conditions, but it’s recommended that it’s planted with plenty of organic matter to emulate its natural woodland or forest conditions to help it properly flourish.

Practical Applications

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) is an excellent groundcover plant and it performs best in partly shaded areas of border gardens. We think you’ll agree that its beautiful and light spring colours allow it to pair perfectly with other early bloomers in your garden, including…

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

The beautiful Wild Columbine will add not only a unique colour to your garden, but a unique shape as well. This image of: wild columbineearly blooming and easily grown flower blooms in a range of colours from light pink to red with a splash of yellow (a variety of spring colours), and blooms into drooping, bell-like flower. The plant almost resembles a crown and will surely be the king (or queen) of your spring project or garden. Not to mention, Wild Columbine has a wide-range of soil tolerance, and freely self-seeds. In optimum growing conditions, it will form large colonies.

Practical Applications

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is capable of withstanding dry soil and drought. If the elements are uncooperative and out of your control, then this tough little plant can keep on living. It also tolerates deer and rabbits, so there’s not much that can keep this species down. But how about adding a little something extra to your garden? Wild Columbine is known to attract hummingbirds, who are not only adorable to watch feed, but because of their long beaks and small bodies, can pollinate long-tubed flowers that other birds can’t. Plus, hummingbirds feed on insects as well as nectar, which can help keep your garden pest-free.

There’s nothing quite like spring weather when it comes to getting your garden going. Actual planting time may be a few weeks away, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t start your planning right now, and when you’re putting your plans together, be sure to keep some of these species in mind. In addition to bringing your garden those beautiful spring colours, they’ve each got practical applications to make your garden more than just a pretty sight. From making distinct borders in your garden, to helping pollinators survive, each of these early bloomers have something unique to offer your garden.

For more on the benefits of growing native, stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube so you don’t miss a thing!

Leave a comment

Our species of the month for March 2018 is just the thing to put the “spring” in your step as we slip into the warmer image of: sullivant's milkweedmonths of the year. The beautiful Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) blooms into an adorable pink that almost begs the sun to shine on it. Not only is Sullivant’s Milkweed pleasant to look at, but it’s a favourite of pollinators as well. Butterflies absolutely love to flutter around and land on this plant, meaning they’ll start to make your garden home. Sullivant’s Milkweed is easily grown as long as the right conditions are met and is sure to add a dash of Spring flare to your garden as we welcome the changing of the seasons.

About Sullivant’s Milkweed

Sullivant’s Milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) is easily grown in average, medium to wet soils with full sunlight. When the plant is fully grown, you can expect a spread of 0.3-0.5 m (1-1.5’) and a height of 0.6-0.9 m (2-3’). The plant may image of: sullivant's mapleself-seed if the pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Once Sullivant’s Milkweed is established, the best practice is to leave the plants undisturbed. Because the plant develops deep taproots, transplanting becomes quite difficult.

Sullivant’s Milkweed is a perennial that shares some visible similarities to the Common Milkweed, however there are some qualities that set it apart. For one, Sulllivant’s is less aggressive than Common Milkweed. It also has completely smooth leaves as opposed to the Common Milkweed’s fuzzy ones. It’s rounded clusters of pinkish-white to pinkish-purple, star-like flowers emit a sweet fragrance, so Spring will really be in the air.

Pollinators Love It!

As we mentioned earlier, Sullivant’s Milkweed is also a great way to attract pollinators to your garden, specifically image of: Asclepias sullivantiibutterflies. If you want to give your garden that extra little bit of magic, then start by planting some Sullivant’s Milkweed. The flowers on the plant are a nectar source for butterflies who will choose to lay their eggs nearby. In turn, the Milkweed is an excellent home for our fluttering friends’ larvae who will eventually turn into – you guessed it – more butterflies who’ll choose to stay near a known food source. In fact, planting Sullivant’s Milkweed is a great way to do your part in conserving the Monarch population in Ontario. Additionally, and of equal importance, Sullivant’s Milkweed has also been known to attract honeybees who are looking for a place to rest and eat peacefully.

Pair it Up

Since Sullivant’s Milkweed is a lower growing plant that can be commonly found in prairie areas, it’s also often referred to as the Prairie Milkweed. It pairs rather nicely with grasses, such as: Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis), or Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans). If you’ve already got one (or a few) image of: Asclepias sullivantiiof these grasses in your garden, then Sullivant’s Milkweed will look great alongside it. If not, consider picking some up to compliment the milkweed.

When we’re this close, it’s hard not to get excited about Spring, and what better way to get excited than to plan your garden out with beautiful, light coloured plants like this one? We’ve got more to come on Sullivant’s Milkweed this month, so look out for our ‘Fast Facts’, ‘Did You Know?’, and Species Profile video in the coming weeks!

Don’t miss out on a thing! Stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com for more posts like this one. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest St. Williams updates!

Leave a comment

Winter in Ontario generally means one thing: cold. This winter has had its ups and downs, but it’s no exception to that rule. As Canadians, once mid-February hits, the thing at the front of everyone’s mind is spring, and at St. Williams, we know that you can’t wait to get back out there and tend to your garden. Did you know that there’s someone else who’s eagerly anticipating you and your green thumb getting back outside too? Our fuzzy flying friends, the bees will be looking forward to you planting some species that they can rest on and grab a snack from. It’s so important to our ecosystem to provide pollinators with a food source, as the number of bees keeps falling dramatically. The responsibility falls to us, the gardeners and concerned environmentalists, to pick up the slack and see to it that the bee population doesn’t dwindle entirely.

Why is Pollination Important?

For one, pollination leads to the production of fruits we can eat, and seeds that will create more plants. As you may know, flowers have male parts that produce very small grains called pollen. The transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another – via insects like: bees, moths, butterflies etc landing on a plant to feed – results in production of fruits and seeds. Therefore, when we talk about the population of bees diminishing, the prevalence of fruit production will naturally take a dip as well. This doesn’t mean only raw fruits – Production of ingredients used to make things like coffee and chocolate will disappear too. It may not be immediately apparent when you first think about it, but pollinators are the unsung heroes of the food production industry.

There are other reasons that pollination is vital to our ecosystem as well. Cross pollination ensures genetic diversity and resilience. The variety of Ontario species is reliant on the process of butterflies, bees and other pollinators carrying pollen grains with them. It also spreads native species colonies, as pollinators will often fly great distances, they can bring with them species that otherwise wouldn’t make it to those areas. Butterflies also rely on these plants as a place to lay their eggs, Pollinated plants act as a great host for caterpillars that will eventually grow into butterflies that will call your garden home. Witnessing butterflies fluttering around your garden will give it a magical element .

What Can We Do to Help Pollinators?

One important step in helping the population of pollinators is to avoid causing them any harm. If pollinators are visiting your garden for a place to snack, let them do their business and be on their way. After all, they’re doing hard work for the environment!

Knowing the difference between a friendly honey bee and more aggressive insects like wasps and yellowjackets is helpful too. A honeybee will almost never attack unless it’s feeling threatened, where something like a yellowjacket can be far more aggressive.

image of: a honey bee pollinator

A honey bee will not attack unless threatened, and has a much rounder shape, with fuzzy features.

image of a yellow jacket pollinator

A yellow jacket has more defined, almost angular features. More aggressive than a honey bee.

I Want to Do More in my Garden

Of course, there are some other steps you can take to help the bee population (and give other pollinators somewhere to rest up too). St. Williams offers a wide selection of plants that pollinators just love to stop at when they’re flying around. We’ve selected a few that you can plant to not only make your garden look great, but to do your part to help the pollinator population as well.

 Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)image of: virginia bluebells

This beautiful little plant is not only a favourite of bees, but will also add a gorgeous splash of blue to any garden. Look for this plant to start blooming in early to mid April.



Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)image of: dense blazing star

The Dense Blazing Star grows a beautiful purple, and while it’s been used by aboriginal people medicinally to treat things like colic, muscle pain and digestive issues, pollinators also love this plant, and will continue to make it a destination to feed.



Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum)image of: nodding wild onion

This species bears a slight resemblance to Virginia Bluebells in shape, but blooms somewhere in the colour spectrum of pale pink to deep purple. The Nodding Wild Onion is not only enjoyed by pollinators, but humans have been known to taste this plant as well!



Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadenis)image of: wild columbine

Wild Columbine is a beautiful, red, unique looking plant, whose flowers almost resemble crowns. This plant is sure to attract hummingbirds, another important pollinator.



Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)image of: foxglove beardtongue

The Foxglove Beardtongue flowers into a nearly pure-white plant that will attract a variety of pollinators, namely honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies. If you enjoy having multiple specimens of wildlife around, this species will make a great addition to your garden.

Doing Your Part

When something like the decline of the bee population arises, it falls to each and every one of us to pitch in and do what we can to avoid the extinction of a species. Pollinators are so important to Ontario’s ecosystem, that it would be catastrophic were the bees to disappear entirely. When it comes down to it, all of us enjoy something that is produced from pollination. Whether that’s chocolate, coffee, or apples, pollinators work every day making the things we enjoy possible. Shouldn’t we work to help keep their species alive in return?


For more, like our species profiles, Fast Facts and Did You Know segments, stay tuned to St. Williams. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss a thing.

Leave a comment

Species of the Month: Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

This uniquely red plant stands out amongst many of the other species that we grow at St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre. For one, this plant produces a vibrant red berry (a image of: winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata)favourite of over 40 species of birds) that is sure to liven up your garden. Plus, the Winterberry Holly’s (Ilex verticillata) berries are particularly showy and remain present throughout winter. A great reminder of summer gardening during the snowy Ontario winter. Winterberry Holly stands tall with a height and spread of 3-12” (1-3.7 metres). Not only are the berries persistent throughout the winter, but their shade of red is a beautiful compliment to a white snowy landscape. The plant thrives in full sun to partly shady areas. It’s slow-growing in medium to wet conditions and tolerates wet soil, clay soil and air pollution.

Not Just a Favourite of Humans

One of the coolest thing about Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) is how much wildlife like to dine on the berries that the plant produces. Like we mentioned above, the berries are devoured by over 40 species of birds, including songbirds, winter waterfowl, and game birds. The plant is a favourite of small mammals who enjoy the berries and seeds produced by the plant as well. If you’re looking for a real Disney scene in your back yard, then we can’t image of: Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)recommend Winterberry Holly strongly enough. Not only will the plant add a beautiful wintery red to your garden, but you can feel good about planting it, knowing that you’re providing a meal to small critters, and our feathered friends.

We know you’ll love Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata), as it’s relatively easily grown, and has a good tolerance for poorly drained soils. Keep in mind, however, that only fertilized flowers on female plants will produce the attractive red berries that are the signature of the species. Generally, one male Winterberry will be sufficient in pollinating 6-10 female plants, and once they’ve bloomed, the berries will produce a lovely red against the plant’s already greenish white leaves – the perfect colour for February, the month of love.

Want to get the most out of your Winterberry Holly? Here are some tips:

  • Power in numbers! Winterberry Holly makes a stunning mass shrub planting.
  • A great shrub to use around retention ponds or runoff ditches.
  • When choosing suitable companions, think evergreen in the winter. A collection of Winterberry Holly backed by a line of White Cedar, Pine, or Spruce can make a stunning contrast. In the summer, consider some herbaceous wildflowers to complement Ilex verticillata. Echinecea pallida and Symphiotrichum oolentangeinse make wonderful companion species.

To learn more about Winterberry Holly, check out stwilliams.com, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see features like ‘Fast Facts’ and new blog posts like this one here!

Leave a comment