Fall Native Plant Event 2023
What's this about?
Fall is an excellent time of year for gardening with many native species of plants that benefit birds. Plants that are native/indigenous to our region evolved here over millions of years and are adapted to our climate. Many species produce seeds or offshoots in late summer to fall, before the plant enters a dormant state over the winter months, to emerge again in spring. These plants are commonly known as perennials and include wildflowers, vines, trees, and shrubs. Native plants are particularly beneficial for wildlife because they directly provide sustenance, such as nectar and foliage, as well as supporting the life cycles of insects that other animals depend on for food. Before settler colonization of North America a couple hundred years ago, native plants were much more widespread across the continent. Today, native plants have been replaced in many areas with introduced, non-native species, such as grass lawns and ornamental plants that are incompatible with ancient, indigenous ecologies. Native plants play important roles in adapting the landscape to climate change conditions and conserving biodiversity, generally requiring less maintenance and support from humans compared to introduced species. However, for native plants to be reestablished in ecosystems within communities, spreading seeds and improving local diversity can be a big help. Read more about the relationships between native plants, insects and birds.
Bird Friendly London, in partnership with The PATCH London, is hosting an event dedicated to gardening with native plants, including a plant exchange program for nature enthusiasts around London and surrounding region. The event will be held on Saturday October 28th, 2023 from 12:00-3:00 pm at The PATCH London's location found at 136 Cavendish Crescent near Riverside Dr. and Wharncliffe Rd west of downtown (click here for directions). This event is open to anyone, including experienced gardeners and newcomers who wish to learn more about Ontario's native plants. The space for the event is accessible to wheelchair users. There is abundant street parking, bicycle storage and public transit access nearby.
The entire event will take place outdoors. We will begin at 12 pm with a brief presentation by Brendon Samuels, coordinator of Bird Friendly London, with information about how to implement naturalized landscaping in London. Light refreshments will be served. The native plant exchange program will take place beginning at 12:30 pm.
Please register using the form at the link below to attend the event and/or to contribute native plant materials for the plant exchange program:
Participating in the plant exchange is simple: if you have some native plants to contribute, please bring seeds, cuttings, shoots or saplings of whatever species to share with others. We ask that you ONLY use plants that are confirmed as being native/indigenous to southwestern Ontario. Information is provided below to assist you with determining the native range of your plant(s). At the event, we will use a random lottery system for participants to take turns with selecting a free plant from the remaining stock to take home. If you wish to contribute plants but not take any home, or if you wish to receive a plant but don't have anything to contribute, both are totally fine!
How to prepare for the native plant exchange program
Step 1 – identify your plants: If you haven't already, please confirm the plants you wish to contribute are actually native to southern Ontario. Plant species that were introduced by humans to our region are often less beneficial for birds and biodiversity, and should not be contributed to this exchange. In Ontario there are many similar-looking cultivars or introduced relatives of wild-type plants that can be easy to confuse with native species. Please consult the resources below:
Using the smartphone app or website iNaturalist can help to confirm species identification from photographs of your plants.
If you know the common name of your plant, you can view its native range map (and confirm it includes southern Ontario) using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) online plants database. Click through and enter information in the top left corner under Basic Search. You will also be able to view photos to compare.
You may find good information about Ontario native and introduced wildflowers at this website
Step 2 – prepare your plants: Prepare your plant materials to contribute to the plant exchange. Note that different species may require different methods for propagation, such as harvesting seeds, taking cuttings, or digging up and splitting rhizomes, shoots or saplings. If you identify the species of your plant, a simple Google search of its name followed by "propagation" should provide you with instructions. Some general information resources are provided below:
For live plant tissues, please insert the plant into a container with growing medium (any soil). We recommend using a disposable container such as a plastic pot or cup. Containers should have holes at the bottom for draining excess water. We recommend harvesting your plant materials as soon as possible, especially if you are transplanting living plant tissues, to leave time before the event for the plant to adjust to being in a container.
Seeds should be provided in a tight transparent container or bag. Please dry out seeds completely before containing them to prevent bacterial or fungal growth. All containers of seeds or plants must be labelled with 1) the species name (common and/or scientific) and 2) your name (first name, last initial).
Step 3 – sign up: Please remember to fill out the event registration form and list the plant materials that you will contribute (note, contributions of plants are not required to attend the event). Before the event date, we will send a reminder email with a plant list (based on registration data) containing information about the species that will be available, such as their preferred growing conditions and aggressiveness.
Step 4 – learn more about your soil (optional): If you plan to receive plants at the exchange event or are new to native plant gardening, you may wish to learn more about your soil where you will be planting. Plants have varying tolerance of different soil types. This guide provides instructions for simple DIY tests to figure out your soil composition, structure, drainage, etc. This information may help you to select appropriate species to plant.
For more information about this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org