Season’s Greetings to All Our
WINTER PROTECTION GOOD INVESTMENT
Seasonal celebrations take second
place to final outdoor activities
Inside, turn attention to holly
and mistletoe, poinsettias and azaleas
Before we starting thinking of
holly and mistletoe, azaleas and poinsettias and other passions of Christmas,
such as getting outside of portions of plum pudding and more liquid refreshment
there is, indeed, work outside. Rudyard Kipling may have written a limerick on la
belle province, but nevertheless such holds more than a modicum of truth
from sea to frigid sea:
was a young man from Quebec
stood in snow up to his neck
asked: "Ain't you frizz?"
replied: "Yes, I is,
we don't call this cold in Quebec."
In common with most Canadians,
coniferous evergreens do not find the snow cold. But when it falls heavy, wet
and in quantity, they can be permanently pulled out of shape, particularly those
upright forms frequently found flanking front doors, access ways and similar
features. Wrapping with netting made specially for the purpose is infinitely
preferable to bundling them in burlap. Protected
or otherwise, they are planted in large part for their winter foliage. Why then
hide it away for a goodly portion of the year?
Burlap finds a use, however, when
used to form screens for valued hedges. While the use of salt is mercifully
diminishing, there are still situations where it is spread, often to be blown or
sprayed across deciduous hedges or even specimen pines and spruce that screen
the home from the rude stares of the passing proletariat. Hammer in two-by-two
posts on the street side of such plantings, then staple the burlap to them.
Many experienced gardeners treat
new broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons in a similar manner for their
first few years following planting with a three-sided screen formed in a similar
fashion. All such ericas, as gardeners who are au fait know them
as, will at the same time benefit from a mighty mulch of peat, pine needles, oak
leaves, or any combination thereof.
Perennials are becoming ever-more
popular and never more so than among growers and retailers. They know that, come
spring, they will be supplying replacements for those that failed to survive the
winter. The commonest reason for this calamity is the nouveau gardener
– and some not-so-nouveau also – having neglected to mulch their perennial
plantings with straw, compost or shredded leaves. December is a good
month to apply such, now that the ground is frozen or nearly so.
The snow will, of course,
eventually arrive, for this is Canada and a Canada without snow is unthinkable.
According to Ligurian folklore, if the pet cat turns its back towards the fire
in the hearth, then snow will soon arrive, or so records Fred Plotkin who is
familiar with that part of Italy. So you are now prepared, should such a
disaster strike as recorded by W. Fields: “It was bitter cold, snowdrifts
fifteen feet high, saloon doors frozen tight.” Time then to turn to
Knowing you are a gardener
exposes you to gifts of the inevitable poinsettia presented by well-meaning
guests. Not a few will have an unwelcome cargo of whitefly, spider mite, aphids
and other pests – the poinsettias that is, although possibly the guests also.
The former should immediately be treated to a generous spray of insecticidal
soap as a precaution against introducing such to other, perhaps more valued
Poinsettias and other gift plants
will do best and last longer if they are in a bright, cool location, out of
direct sunlight with temperatures 15C by night and 25C by day.
Most commercially raised gift plants are treated with time-release
fertilizer in the soil and so will probably not benefit by additional feedings.
They will by surprisingly thirsty though. Check daily if the soil is dry, by
feeling the surface or hefting the pot. It is hard to determine this state if
the pot is gunged up with wrappings. What are we looking at anyway – the plant
or the gaudy garnishing? These embellishments also impede vital drainage. Strip
them away and conceal instead in a jardinière or other tasteful container.
While florists hold narcissus to
be the flower of the month, closer to Christmas it is holly that is held by many
to be a sign of the festive season. There are many species of Ilex, but
it is I. aquifolium or English holly with red berries and prickly foliage
that is associated with Christmas. Unfortunately, it is not truly hardy outside
of coastal southwest British Columbia. This is the holly that was sacred to the
Celts as was another plant only seen this time of year, the parasitic mistletoe.
Not only did the Celts hold that it was unlucky felling a tree on which it was
growing, it was equally disastrous cutting mistletoe at any other time of year.
But at the winter solstice, hung in the house, it will ensure happiness to all
who kiss under it. Unfortunately for those more sociably inclined, this is said
to work only in the home, not out in the workplace. They might take heart,
however, in the words of Mae West who was wont to claim that, “I was Snow
White – but I drifted.”
Holly or Narcissus
Late December – Saturnalia
North American Native Peoples Full Moon
5th Tinsel Day –
Puns Corp., PO 2364, Falls Church, Virginia 22042
13th Tandem Day –
Puns Corp., PO 2364, Falls Church, Virginia 22042
(William) Joyce Kilmer, 1886 U.S.
poet best known for his ‘Trees’ (killed in action World War I on 30 July
9. Clarence Birdseye 1886 developer
of frozen foods (died 7 October 1956)
Darwin 1731 naturalist and grandfather of Charles Darwin (died 18 April 1802)
Henri Fabre 1823 French entomologist (died 11 October 1915)
Britain extends suffrage to
agricultural workers 1822
adopts the new maple leaf flag 1964
Boston Tea Party 1773: first attempt to make iced tea on a large scale
Susanne Moodie, author Roughing
It In The Bush, born 1803 Bungay, England (died 8 April 1883)
Wilson Stewart, paleobotanist,
born Madison, Wisconsin 1917; University of Alberta professor
John Hubert Craigee, plant
pathologist especially with wheat rust, born 1887 Merigomish, Nova Scotia
Karsh, photographer, born Mardin, Turkey 1908 (died Boston, 13 July 2002)
St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan,
d.397, patron of Milan, bees, domestic animals
Thomas, Apostle of the Indies d. 1st century martyr and patron of
architects and, presumably, landscape architects, as well as builders and
men searching for a perfect Christmas tree had to be rescued after spending
three days wandering in dense forests and deep snow. The men eventually found a
cabin where smoke from the fire they built led rescuers to them.
- Toronto Sun, 22 December 1999: St. George, Utah
to the horror of some, it must be admitted that the Christmas tree did not
originate with the nativity of the Christ child. The Druids – a bloodthirsty
pack of pagan butchers, if truth were known – bedecked many evergreens at the
winter solstice to assure good luck for the coming year. Roman maidens wore
garlands of unopened pinecones to symbolize their virginity. In Germany of old,
the happy heathens bedecked firs with eggs as fertility symbols while their
damsels danced around the Abies specimens in the belief that their wishes
would be granted by a troll therein. Exactly where and when conifers came to be
associated with Christmas is uncertain but certainly pine and fir trees have
long been regarded as symbol of fertility and immortality, particularly in
Christmas trees came to England and acceptance by royalty is subject of much
dispute. Most authorities agree that they arrived during the 18th-century
with the accession of first member of the House of Hanover to British throne,
George I, in 1714. Members of his court, German merchants and Hessian soldiers
in the army all seem to have been involved. In 1800, Queen Charlotte, wife of
George III, is aid to have ordered a 6-foot fir to be decorated with strings of
almonds and raisins, along with little wax dolls and – a blatant fire hazard
– small candles.
which tale takes precedence next; it was either 40 or 41 years later that Queen
Victoria and Prince Albert had a Christmas tree in Windsor Castle. This became
something of a fixture for the royal family each Christmas and, in 1848, they
were shown in an engraving in The Illustrated London News gathered around
the tree. The rising middle class eagerly seized upon the fashion and the season
and its scent has never been quite the same ever since.
cards arrived in the same decade, the 1843 invention of London art shop owner
Henry Cole who had a thousand printed at a shilling a piece, far too higher
price to become popular until mass production brought prices tumbling a
Christmas of 1855, however, the artificial tree had arrived, at least as a palm
with “green calico leaves,” according to The Lady’s Newspaper. It
was not until after the First World War that such fare become popular,
particularly with working-class families, when the British toilet-brush
manufacturer Izal started making them, which goes a long way to explaining for
the appearance of cheaper artificial Christmas trees ever since.
the real Christmas tree came the Christmas tree seller. In 1895, The English
Illustrated Magazine interviewed the largest supplier of Christmas trees in
Britain, operating out of Covent Garden, London and described as the ‘high
priest’ of the trade. His family had been in the business since the 1830s, he
claimed, and they were presently selling 30,000 trees each season. They were, he
said, spruce from private estates, thinnings not specifically grown as Christmas
trees, the largest 40-feet high. In Britain, Norway spruce and Nordmann fir are
now the commonest used, while in Russia a yolka designates the fir most
prized as a Christmas tree.
to the National Christmas Tree Association, in Canada the most popular trees are
balsam fir, Fraser fir, Scotch pine and white spruce. Almost all of these are
raised on farms devotes to their production, the average tree taking ten or a
dozen years to grow to saleable size. A hectare of such trees produces enough
oxygen every day for about 40 people. The “world centre” for balsam fir
raising is apparently Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.
pine and fir are longest lasting – the latter also have the best scent,
particularly balsam fir. Their stiff needles also make them easier to decorate.
When selecting a tree, don’t be forced to hurry. After finding one of suitable
height and shape for the house, lift a couple of feet and drop the butt end
sharply on the ground. If many needles come loose, forget it, and choose
another. Upon arriving home, immediately cut a couple inches off the base of the
trunk. Plunge the based into a large bucket of water to which has been added
tablespoon of bleach per gallon, and allow to stand overnight. This will greatly
prolong the tree’s life, opening new water uptake channels and killing
everyone likes Christmas trees. In spring 2000, Greek presidential candidate
Dimosthenes Vergis, 59, president of the Ecological Union of Greece, campaigned
against them. Other features of his race to rule Greece included “spelling his
party's name on the bare buttocks of nightclub dancers” and
“having topless models hand out campaign pamphlets on a central Athens
avenue,” according to the National Post. He lost.
Global Warming Explained
Attempting to keep abreast with
the scientific advances in global warming theories is almost as much of a
problem as the sorting through those from earnest environmentalists and
self-serving bureaucrats and politicians. Now help is at hand in the site set up
by Dave Reay, an environmental scientist at the University of Edinburgh, U.K.
And when a website comes with recommendation from the journal Science it
is doubly worthy of attention. Both scientific articles and constantly up-dated
news may be accessed here. Also, as Science notes: “For teachers and
students, Reay has written succinct backgrounders on such topics as the possible
effects of global warming; sources of greenhouse gases; and carbon dioxide
sinks, such as plants and the ocean, that store the molecule.” www.ghgonline.org
Mapping Malaria and Other Ecological Changes
Pollution Probe, working with
Canada Health and Environment Canada, recently released a report predicting all
kinds of dire disasters for south-central Ontario when (and if) the climate
warms. Others are way ahead of them, for example the Life Mapper network, a
distributed computing project at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, that
utilizes the computers of volunteers in their downtime to amass awesome amounts
of data on how global warming may affect ecological aspects. More from www.beta.lifemapper.org
World Atlas of Biodiversity
This is a project from the United
Nations Environment Program, an enormous encyclopedia concerned life published
this past summer. This is plain fun to browse, and it is interactive to should
you wish to learn what is affecting what somewhere on Earth. www.stort.unep-wcmc.org/imaps/gb2002/book/viewer.htm
Stains from the Garden Escutcheon
Gardeners may have to tolerate
stains on their reputations but on clothing there is now and website offering
scientific advise on how to get rid of 250 embarrassing stains caused by various
common garden and other substances. Pitch from pines, gums and other goo from
spruce can be eliminated with turpentine while grass stains succumb to banana
oil. All this and more from researchers at Cornell University in upstate New
York. There’s even a list of a few that have defeated them. www.human.cornell.edu/units/txa/extension/removingstains.pdf
December Horticultural Happenings
Toronto Field Naturalist Outings
Free guided walks; children
welcome but please no pets; all are TTC accessible; dress according to weather,
bring beverage, camera, notebook and binoculars’ more 416-593-2656 or www.sources.com/tfn
1 December: Monthly Meeting,
Emmanuel College, 75 Queen’s Park Cres. East, basement, 2 p.m. talk: Everything
You Wanted to Know About the Monarch Butterfly.
3 December: Wards Island Nature
Walk – meet 10 a.m. ferry docks at foot of Bay St; bring lunch and binoculars
12 December: German Mills Nature
Walk – meet 10 a.m. at ne corner Steeles and Leslie; bring a snack; walk ends
at 12:30 p.m.
15 December: Lambton Woods Nature
Walk – meet 10:30 a.m. entrance to James Gardens on Edenbridge Dr; bring a
15 December: Three Creeks Urban
Ecology – meet 2 p.m. nw corner Yonge and Lawrence
19 December: Black Creek Heritage
Walk – meet 10 a.m. Jane St at Alliance Ave.; bring lunch and binoculars
Civic Garden Centre
A well-established organization
‘helping people grow.’ Edwards Gardens, 777 Lawrence Ave. E. at Leslie St.,
tel: 416-397-1340; fax:
9 December Festive Planters 7 –
9 p.m. (members $20, public $30) creating seasonal urns
5 December Christmas &
Holiday Open House 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. 20-minute demonstrations ($2 each)
on seasonal plant and bulb care, decorating gifts and mantles, creating festive
garlands, wreaths, table centre pieces and arrangements
Richters Winter Festival of Herbs
1 December Free demonstrations,
festive herbal food samples, children’s crafting corner, unique herbal gift
ideas and, at 2 p.m., Melanie Johnson from Precious Petals will speak on
‘Making Herbal Gifts.’ 357 Highway 7, Goodwood, Ontario 1-800-668-HERB or
Mycological Society of Toronto
Meetings on mushrooms and
“forays” to look for them; more information 416-444-9053
High Park Sunday Walks
Meet 1:15 p.m. south of the
Grenadier Restaurant; a $2 donation is requested; details 416-392-1748
Ontario Rock Garden Society
8 December Civic Garden Centre,
777 Lawrence Ave East, Toronto commences with plant sale at 12:30 followed by
speaker at 1:30 p.m.: Barrie Porteous “Alaskan Adventure” Visitors welcome
27 & 28 December, Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto.
Come and see fantasies in ice inspired by Lord Of the Rings
Conservancy Travel Trips
20-29 December Belize &
Honduras rainforests, barrier reefs, Maya ruins
South side Carleton Street
between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets; open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
weekends and holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; further information 416-392-7288 or www.allangardens.com
Centennial Park Conservatory
Three greenhouses with a total of
more than 12,000 square feet of interesting and changing plant collections. 151
Elmcrest Road. Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information at 416-392-8543
Cloud Garden Conservatory
A walk-through greenhouse that
recreates the lush tropical foliage of a Costa Rican cloud forest. South side of
Richmond Street, between Yonge and Bay Streets. Open Monday through Friday 10
a.m. to 3 p.m. (closed on holidays). More information from 416-392-7288
Gardening in the Headlines
round-up of the past few weeks’ news of interest to gardeners
The steel gateway art by the pathway leading into the Don
River parklands at the northwest corner of Sheppard Avenue and Leslie Street in
Toronto has not been art at all to Councillor Sutherland and numerous local
citizens, but it can stay, ruled City Council, and be covered with ivy as its
artist designer desired. City Gardening notes the words of Frank
Lloyd Wright: “A surgeon can bury his mistakes but all an architect can do is
cover them with vines.”
A pair of
200-foot transmission towers in suburban Victoria, B.C., is blamed for garden
sprinklers erupting unannounced, garage doors springing open, radio malfunctions
and an automatic bed ejecting its occupant.
Industry Canada hires a retired professor from the University of Victoria
The modest Rosedale mansion of the Reisman/Schwartz duo
proceeds apace, Gillian Cosgrove reports in the National Post, with
conservatory, sunken marble pool, theatre, guesthouse and so on all with
“plenty of space for greenery and landscaping” in “the compound.” In the
third world, a “compound” is where those requiring protection from the
general population reside.
Kathryn Gannon, 33, who started her career planting trees
in Alberta, announces outside a New York courthouse following her sentencing to
three months for stock market crimes that a film is planned based on her life
which progressed from tree planting to ecdysiast to reach dizzy heights as
Canada’s best known porn star performing under the professional name of
trees are blamed for killing six, including three children, in Britain as the
islands are swept by winds of around 130 km/h and are recorded as gusting to 155
km/h at the peculiarly-named Mumbles in south Wales.
cedar located on an island cliff in Lake Temagami, northern Ontario, was over
550 years old when it recently died, say researchers, who believe that there are
far older cedars located in the same area. The oldest white cedar yet dated, and
the oldest in Canada, is growing on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsular and has lived
1,050 years. The oldest dated tree in Canada is a yellow cedar from B.C. which,
when cut, was 1,835 years old.
The 17 bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva) in the
White Mountains of California that make up the Methuselah Grove are the oldest
living things on Earth – ‘The Old Man’ dates back 4,767 years. Those
interested in the science of Extreme Life Extension are studying these trees and
their near-starvation diet as the possible secret to longevity, according to New
“It’s absolutely amazing, here it is almost
mid-November, and we still have green trees,” says Richard Ubbens, Toronto’s
chief forester. Then came 20-cm of snow the night before the city’s famed
Santa Clause Parade.
florist’s shop in Cheshire, England, where Paul Burrell, former butler to
Princess Diana now works, has reportedly seen a significant rise in business.
toxicologist, believing life should imitate art, scatters rose petals around her
husband’s body after poisoning him with a powerful painkiller, apparently
inspired by the movie American Beauty.
insects and other creatures may not have the influence they have been
traditionally credited with in the evolution of flowers, according to scientists
from a number of universities around the world, a report in the journal Science
Barrett, 60, member of the Manitoba legislature for the past dozen years,
announces she will not run again as she as thinking of “roses to smell.”
Surely a change from the aroma that normally permeates Canadian politics, even
if manure is useful for topdressing roses.
climbers are accused of destroying rare ferns and other plants in the Bruce
Peninsular National Park, Ontario, by scraping off the rocks
years of battling bylaws and defying city work crews over their natural
plantings, Toronto father-and-son Victor and Douglas Counter are forced to
concede defeat when Justice Romain Pitt upholds a bylaw restricting growth to no
more than a metre high, four meters back from roadways for safety reasons.
Edward Island may be small but they like to do things in a big way, as when 5.5
million kilograms of spuds are baked in a fire, which destroys two warehouses in
Wheatley River, P.E.I.
an assured minimum price, banana growers in Ecuador block roads to bring
attention to their cause. The country is the world’s largest producer of the
Thanks to war and salt pollution, 20 per cent of all the
date palms in the lower Euphrates-Tigris valley have been destroyed, according
to a UN report.
It is possible to use discarded peanut shells to extract
hydrogen fuel, Scientific Carbons of Blakeley, Georgia, claims for their pilot
plant. Perhaps there is hope for Jimmy Carter yet.
garlic and other Allium consumed in quantity can cut the risk of prostate
cancer in half reports the American Institute for Cancer Research.
palms are fine in the home, but their chewing their nuts – a mild stimulant
known as betel in Asia and the Pacific – is causing problems in the
Solomon Islands, where police threaten to charge imbibers who open their car
doors while driving to spit out the bright red juice.
of soil is offered for US$9.99 on eBay.ca then withdrawn when it is noticed that
it is listed as “Robert Pickton Dirt From His Pig Farm,” the believed
site of at least 15 murders of missing Vancouver street women.
A team led by Klavdia Oleschko the National Autonomous
University in Mexico City have developed a device that fires microwaves into the
soil, allowing farmers to determine instantly if planting conditions are
favourable, according to the journal Physical Review Letters
pest threatens southern Ontario gardeners as they join their Manitoba brethren
similarly plagued. Two wild boars mysteriously appear on
the Oneida reserve, west of London.
caretaker, 61, pots a ferocious squirrel in England with his air rifle,
according to tabloid The Sun, ending a reign of terror on the townsfolk,
including the man’s granddaughter, 2, who was bitten about the face by the
The North American Millers’ Association applies for
exemption to the ban on methyl bromide, a potent pesticide that assures us clean
grains, due to be phased out after 2005 under the Montreal Protocol of 1987.
Fifty years ago last October, the journal Nature
reports, results of testing pesticides DDT, BHC and dieldrin against the
malarial Anopheles gambiae, A. funestus and culiccine mosquitoes.
The research involved treated huts occupied by volunteers. The most effective
A pair of chemicals, jasmonate and salicylate, trigger a
plant’s defences when it is attacked, causing release of toxins. Research
reported in the journal Nature now shows that these same two chemicals
can activate an enzyme in the attacking pest’s gut, which neutralizes the
Although only one West Nile virus death is proven in
Toronto, city health honchos claim it killed as many as six others this past
season. They propose to treat storm sewers in 2003 with methoprene, a synthetic
hormone that mucks up the metamorphosis of the mosquito larvae lurking there.
The chemical has “some impact” on other insects and aquatic life and there
are alternatives. From the same wonderful folks that want to ban pesticides in
the suffering city . . .
For the Birds
The Toronto Field Naturalist newsletter notes that in
Britain, “starlings and house sparrows are becoming so rare that they have
been put on the list of species whose survival is threatened.” They would be
welcome to all of ours, which they blessed us with over a century ago.
Scientists at Arizona State University report that urban
birds prefer higher-income neighbourhoods even the tree cover is sparser in such
areas. Both populations and individual species increase, the researchers say but
they cannot explain why.
bird watchers flock to Arctic Sweden to enter on their life lists the rare
Parus cyanus, usually limited to Mongolia. Most will eschew from
announcing their target’s English name, the azure tit.
residents of Woodstock, Ontario, complain that the huge crow population is
preventing sleep, local politicians in their wisdom vote for a $7,500 fireworks
program to disperse the birds with loud noises.
We couldn’t wait for it: The Greenpeace Guide to
Environmentally Friendly Sex is here. It is acceptable to have sex in the
backyard, Greenpeace says, but not on weed killer-doused vegetation. And if your
thing includes wood paddles, “make sure they are made from sustainably
harvested timber.” More at the archives of The True Green Report, Canada
Free Press, 4 November 2002 www.canadafreepress.com
Since about 500, or 10%, of the malaria parasite’s
genes the same as those found in plants, they should be susceptible to drugs
based on herbicides, suggests Geoff McFadden, a botanist at the University of
Melbourne, Australia, reports New Scientist. Such drugs “probably
won’t have side effects on us,” he adds. We can’t wait for Greenpeace to
spot this one.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International of Des Moines, Iowa, and
Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences withdraw permission for researchers at Ohio
State University, Columbus, to use sunflower transgenes developed by the
companies but not released commercially. This effectively blocks the scientists
from discovering if such could be transferred to wild sunflowers, creating “superweed,”
reports the journal Nature
A Los Angeles restaurateur pays the trifle of US$35,000
for a white truffle weighing in at a kilogram from northern Italy
in the City
Sheridan Chief Horticulturist Larry Sherk protests the installation of a parking
pad for 12 cars at Toronto’s historic Ashbridge House on Queen St. E., now
home of Canada Blooms offices and what he claims is lack of care to “unique
100-year-old shrubs.” In fact, the shrubs on the western portion of the
grounds were planted during restoration work 30 years ago.
new Official Plan states that new parks will be created while existing green
space will be maintained and improved – well, they couldn’t get much worse.
Also on the list of bureaucratic endeavours is the encouragement of quality
Dunn, National Post columnist and former consort of a provincial premier,
discovers that DIY removal of raccoons is expensive when using chicken instead
of sardines to trap the beast in the wall near her bed instead nets her an
odiferous skunk. Cost of cage trap, plus professional skunk disposal, ditto
raccoon: almost $400
The Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sheela Basrur
proposes a 90% reduction of the use of pesticides on residential properties and
60% for commercial and industrial after a year-long community consultation. Her
report is presented to the city’s Board of Health 18 November.
A new lobby group joins the fray at Toronto City Hall.
The Pest Control Safety Council of Canada (PCSCC) says it wishes to
“provide public education on the safe and responsible use of
pest-control products across Canada.” www.pestconmtrolsafety.org
Besom brooms, like those traditionally associated with
witches, are in great demand, thanks to Harry Potter tales. The last such besom
binder in Britain, Harry Eddon of Yorkshire, receives a Department of
Environment grant to update his equipment to make the hazel-handled, heather
besoms that are preferred by many gardeners for uses that do not include
nocturnal air travel.
The world’s largest fertilizer company, Potash
Corporation of Saskatchewan reports third-quarter profit up 33% from a year ago,
thanks especially to nitrogen sales.
and the Gardener
In a new study, respected scientists Dr. Nigel Pitman, of
Duke University, N.C., and Dr. Peter Jorgensen, of Missouri Botanical Gardens in
St. Louis estimate that between 22 and 47% of all plants on the planet are
threatened. In Ecuador, a staggering 83% of that country’s entire flora was in
danger of extinction.
Fruit flies became resistant to DDT worldwide within a
few years, including laboratory strains that had never been exposed to the
pesticide and a similar resistance has been demonstrated in the mosquito malaria
vector Anopheles gambiae throughout coastal West Africa, reports a
research team in the journal Science.
The largest extinction ever took place at the end of the
Permian period 250 million years ago when 70% of land animals and almost all
marine life perished. The reason, according to a team of researchers at the
University of Oregon, is soil were totally depleted of oxygen, killing all plant
life, hence also animals. Methane did the same in the sea, reports New
A rare find of a mummified hadrosaur (Brachylophosaurus
canadensis) dinosaur in Montana shows it to have dined on at least 40
different plants, including freshwater algae, ferns, liverwort and angiosperms,
according to expert Dennis Braman, of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller,
The French, when asked about “biotechnology,” confuse
it with “plant therapy,” according to an Ipsos poll reported in the journal Science.
And over a third think it is associated in some way with organic farming. And we
thought our education system was lacking.
The phrase “public understanding of science,” or PUS,
will be replaced in Britain by public engagement in science and technology,
PEST, Brit bungleaucrats decide. About time too, as New Scientist reports
one Minister of the Crown as claiming on BBC radio that in medieval times we did
not have DNA.
The journal Science calls it a “witches’
brew” for the EPA to examine when it comes to deciding whether the very widely
used herbicide atrazine will continue to be permitted in use. One team of
researchers report serious abnormalities in sexual organs of male frogs at
minuscule contamination levels, a second and equally respected team of
scientists have been unable to replicate these results. Both are presently busy
slanging each other in the official EPA atrazine docket, open to public
bicycle is developed by Indian scientist D. P. Mishra for impoverished rural
residents to manufacture at home. Yes, grasses are becoming more popular . . .
Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert proclaims his
province’s tourist advertising campaign a success in Ontario as residents of
central Canada now know that 50% of Saskatchewan is forested, and not just
“insect zoo” opens at the Horticultural Gardens at Kansas State University,
where there is already a butterfly conservatory along with a conservatory dating
from 1907 which features tropical and desert plant exhibits. Sure doesn’t look
like Kansas, Dorothy.
The notorious Dounreay nuclear facility on the north
coast of Scotland maybe an environmental catastrophe but it has still can boast
a silver ‘green tourism’ award from the official government tourism
authority, VisitScotland, notes New Scientist.
warning is blamed by the Royal Horticultural Society for their predicted demise
of the traditional English garden in 50 to 80 years, to be replaced by palm
trees, bougainvillea, figs and other foreigners to the sceptr’d isle.
major Maritime storm with winds of up to 100 km/h tears out a large tree by its
roots in a village near Halifax and hurls it into a house.
can rejoice in the effects of global warming, at least in south-central Ontario,
as Hamilton elects to keep the public Chedoke Golf Course open all winter thanks
to less snow and milder conditions experienced recently.
Good news for stricken Canadian prairie farmers: global
warming is going to help them according to a model developed by Jonathan Foley,
of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and his team, reporting in the
journal Global Ecology & Biogeography
dairy farmer accidentally discovers a marijuana patch while tending his herd,
and receives an arrow shot from a crossbow through his shoulder.
Toronto mega-city proposes to extend bylaws to protect
trees in ravine areas and make it illegal for them to be felled without
permission. Such bylaws are presently in effect in former municipalities of
Toronto, East York and Scarborough, but not North York, Etobicoke or York.
The Toronto Field Naturalist newsletter brings to our
attention and item overlooked in The New York Times that reported a
squirrel in Britain had led police investigators to several boxes of burgled
loot concealed at the base of a tree.
the worst droughts in a century hits eastern Australia, causing water
restrictions to be enforced for gardens and other uses, including a
recommendation from Environment
Minister Sherryl Garbutt that people shower together to save water.
largest hydroponics marijuana grow operation is shut down by police in
Mississauga, who remove 9,500 plants from a second-floor industrial site, and
value it at $10.5-million.
now the ”third-largest supplier of high-grade marijuana in the
world now to the United States,” behind only Mexico and Columbia, according to
Ontario’s Minister of Public Safety and Security Bob Runciman, something he
says, “it's not something wee should be very proud of.” He wants the courts
to impose much harsher sentences on those engaged in the highly profitable if
farmer Jos Bove receives a 14-month jail sentence for destroying genetically
Admitting its previous plans had not worked, the World
Bank reverses a decade-old policy of not lending funds for forestry projects, to
the very vocal protests of environmentalists.
to bow to the monopoly of the Canada Wheat Board, 13 Alberta farmers are sent to
jail for having the audacity to actually sell their own grain directly to the
United States. Aided by a relief fund, five are released a short while later.
thought before you tee up for the first hole of your next round of golf.
Groundskeepers are engaged in the 6th most dangerous occupation,
according to statistics on the tabloid Metro Toronto. Being a police
officer ranks 8th.
Statistics Canada announces the past year was a good one
for maple syrup production, up 15%, but poor for honey, down 6%.
Saskatchewan harvests were down 45% from average levels
of late this past season, thanks to lethal levels of locusts, droughts and
The bioprospecting firm Diversa of San Diego, having been
active in Costa Rica, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa, is now turning north to
Canada, where it hopes to study organisms at a privately owned pulp mill,
according to a news report in the British journal Nature.
Minister Jean Chretien and Environment Minister David Anderson enrage provincial
premiers by refusing to grant their demands for a first ministers’ conference.
Chretien confirms he intends to ratify the Kyoto accord before the end of the
year, whether the provinces like it or not.
Peter Lougheed takes to demonstrating disdain for a certain accord by
pronouncing it ‘kai-ota,’ much to the displeasure of linguistically pure
Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists in an unusual statement point out that
the science behind Kyoto “is the basis of the entire debate,” and that there
is no “significant evidence” to connect greenhouse gases with climate
change. In any case, the 3,000-member organization says, even the “greatest
efforts” cannot reduce CO2 significantly.
Manitoba’s Energy Minister justifies Kyoto on the grounds that warmer summers
will lead to a longer mosquito season; an original outlook to say the least from
a province whose inhabitants claim the insect is their provincial bird.
Chretien’s Liberal government claims 80% support signing the Kyoto accord, a
new Sun Media poll shows that 55% oppose it, while a third poll by The Comedy
Network shows that 60% of Canadians believe politicians are “very likely to
lie” on important issues.
Far from absorbing carbon dioxide, encouraging planting
new forests will actually increase global levels of he greenhouse gas, says New
Scientist, reporting on the research of Riccardo Valentini of the University
of Tuscia, in Viterbo, as he presented the first results of the CarboEurope
program. “The Kyoto Protocol to halt climate change is based on a scientific
fallacy,” says New Scientist.
on a pig,” is the way skeptical Alberta Environmental Minister Lorne Taylor
describes Ottawa’s updated Kyoto plan, which will only cost 60,000 jobs,
federal bureaucrats claim – none of them theirs.
loosing legal bids to stop the Bayview Ave extension through the sensitive Oak
Ridges Moraine and protect the threatened Jefferson salamander, conservationists
take heart with York Region agreeing to spend $10-million to construct
steel-and-concrete wildlife tunnels under the highway.
storm in eastern Australia, up to 1,500 kilometres long and 400
kilometres wide, is the worst in three decades, bringing dust even to the
country’s premier city of Sydney.
Elizabeth Nickson of the National Post, coins
“greenmail” to describe the aggressive fundraising activities of such
prominent environmental organizations as The Sierra Club, the Audubon Society,
the Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, the Wilderness
Society, the National Resources Defence Council and the Environmental Defence
already bedevilled by droughts, faces what is likely to be its worse bushfire
season ever, as midsummer approaches Down Under.
Greenpeace’s Toronto offices on Dundas Street are
picketed by some of its employees, members local 343 of the Office and
Professional Employees International Union, who demand executive director Peter
Tabuns honour their contract. Greenpeace, says a union rep, “expects
governments to honour environmental treaties they have ratified. We expect
Greenpeace to honour this labour treaty that has been ratified.”
The 14 countries of the Southern African Development
Community decided at a summit in Luanda, Angola, to set up their own
organization to examine possible risks from genetically modified crops.
The Kansuta forest in Quebec’s Abitibi region is saved
from lumbering by the intervention of popular folksinger and poet Richard
Desjardins who formed the environmental group, L’Action Boreale.
Albertan to be diagnosed with West Nile virus is reported, although it is
believed he contracted the disease while visiting Texas and Louisiana.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture report
that tea increases insulin activity in the body by more than 15-fold, which may
explain why tea can also fight heart disease and high blood pressure.
warming threatens Toronto and the Niagara region with dire disease increases,
warns a typical piece of fear-mongering from the combined efforts of Pollution
Probe, Health Canada and Environment Canada, in a report conveniently released
as Prime Minister Jean Chretien attempts to be remembered in Canada by
committing the country to the Kyoto scheme.
large quantities of flaxseed were given greater protection against prostate
cancer, reports a team from the Duke University Medical Center in the journal
Urology. Note also out item of similar claimed benefit of garlic.
The average marijuana joint today contains 150 mg of THC
as opposed to 10 mg in the 1960s, a British study reports, contains 50% more
carcinogens than tobacco smoke and impairs the immune system. Meanwhile,
Canada’s Senate announces it is not a health hazard.
of mental illness such as depression and schizophrenia increases with the amount
of marijuana used and the age such use commences, report researchers at Kings
College, London, England. Those dubious of claims made by advocates of cannabis
now may now explain away their behaviour.
In a $35,500 report for former Defence Minister Art
Eggleton, his former girl friend Maggie Maier recommends aromatherapy for
Canada’s soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Bioprospecting has received a boost, reports Nature,
with increased funding from the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH). This
will involve a program “which aims both to identify plants possessing useful
pharmaceutical ingredients and to encourage sustainable development in
developing nations.” Five projects are already underway.
Chocolate and cocoa may help prevent heart attacks,
researchers in Chicago announce – but, so far, only certain dark chocolate
seems to be effective, they say. Milk chocolate is not, something to remember
when enjoying seasonal snacks.
friars were behind on their belfry payments so, in order to raise the necessary
funds, they opened a small florist shop. Since everyone liked buying flowers
from these men of God, the rival and long-established florist across town
thought the competition was most unfair. He politely requested the fathers close
their business down, but they refused. Faced with the imminent collapse of his
business, he returned a few weeks later to beg them to cease and desist. The
friars ignored him. Even when his old mother approached them, still the priests
rejected all possibility of curtailing their competition. The florist decided he
would have to resort to the ultimate threat his town possessed. He hired
"Horrible Hugh" McGinty, a vile and rough tough, to call on the
friars. Hugh happily went to work, trashing the store, and beating up on both
stock and priests. He assured them in no uncertain terms, that he would return
and complete the job if they didn't close down the business. Terrified, the
friars finally complied. This goes to prove that Hugh, and only Hugh, can
prevent florist friars.