Nominate an Environmental Hero

Recipients of the Conservation Awards will be honoured at Ontario Nature’s 90th Annual General Meeting. The date and location to be determined due to COVID-19 uncertainty. Visit more information.

We will also feature the winners in the fall issue of our award-winning ON Naturemagazine.

Read the Conservation Awards Flyer with category descriptions and submission guidelines.

Awards are given at the discretion of the Awards Committee.

Ontario Nature is committed to equity, diversity, inclusivity and accessibility. Please consider nominating individuals, groups, government agencies and corporations that reflect these important values.

Nomination Procedure

  1. Nominations must be submitted on an official form. To obtain a form please visit, or contact Barbara MacKenzie-Wynia.
  2. Nominations can be submitted either electronically or by mail.
  3. Nominees who are Ontario Nature members must be nominated by two people (who don’t have to be members) or one member group.
  4. Nominees who are not Ontario Nature members must be nominated by two current Ontario Nature members or one member group.
  5. A person may be nominated for more than one award; however, each nomination must be submitted on a separate form.
  6. Nominators must provide supporting material.
  7. Nominations must be received by March 26, 2021.


Please forward nominations, including supporting material to the mailing or email address below.

Attention: Chair, Ontario Nature Awards Committee

214 King Street West, Suite 612
Toronto, ON M5H 3S6
416-444-8419 | 1-800-440-2366

Growing Under Cover

I attended a webinar where Niki Jabbour spoke about using covers in vegetable gardening. With increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and pest infestations she has a solution: she uses row covers, shade cloth, low tunnels, cold frames, hoophouses, and other protective structures to create controlled growing spaces for vegetables to thrive. The many benefits of using protective covers are extending the season, allowing the gardener to plant earlier and harvest later, eliminate pests, harvest a healthier, heartier crop and mitigate the effects of some of our harsher weather.
There was far too much information for me to cover here, but I can say that she has written a book “Growing Under Cover” and, although this is not a pitch for the book, it could be a valuable resource.

Guelph Organic Conference

From Tuesday, January 26th through Saturday, January 30th, the Guelph Organic Conference will run these 5 seminars as online programs

These free seminars will all run on their respective scheduled day at 1.00 pm, EST and each will have a length of about 90-120 minutes.  Each requires a registration so that we can reserve an adequate Zoom service.  We are currently verifying that each will be recorded for future retrieval for those unable to dial in for the actual program(s).  The Conference has asked several organic groups to co-organize these – COTA/Canada Organic Trade Association, OCO/Organic Council of Ontario, COG/Canadian Organic Growers, EFAO/Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario + High Mowing Seeds, then finally Gary Zimmer along with SureSource Commodities/organic grain trader, for the Saturday cropping program, assisted by OCO.

Registration is now live! Click on the workshop you are interested, and register to attend. We will send you an email the detail, including the Zoom link, to attend the workshop.

Follow Up to Ecological Design Lab

For anyone who hasn’t viewed this excellent presentation, here is a brief summary of the content.
For the full discussion, see the link on the Jan 5 post.

Barriers, Bylaws and the Biophilic City: Advancing Natural Gardens and Native Plants in Our cities

Webinar hosted by Ryerson Carly Murphy and featured panelists:
Patricia Landry – City of Toronto
Haley Anderson
Lorraine Johnson
Nina-Marie Lister
Mark Cullen
David Donnelly – Lawyer

Discussion centred on the idea that the city’s “Grass and Weeds Bylaw” is actually a deterrent to growing native gardens. It contains out dated information eg grass cannot be higher than 20 centimeters. Even in 2020, residents are getting notices that goldenrod needs to be removed.
Nina-Marie Lister gave a brief history of the conflict between residents planting native or naturalized gardens in their front yards and city bylaw officers who do anything from warning the gardener, fining them or ultimately cutting the garden down.
She then spoke of her own recent situation that has been in the media this last summer where she was ordered to remove her native garden or face fines up to $5000
She hired a lawyer to fight the charge and was eventually granted an exemption.
Her lawyer’s stance is that an exemption is not satisfactory, it causes the bylaw officer to make a judgement and that is not acceptable. The bylaw as it reads now was ruled unconstitutional in 1996 and needs to be struck down or replaced with something that deals only with plants that harmful to nature or people – full stop.
Patricia Landry presented the city’s point of view, that the bylaw is still necessary to deal with derelict yards. The city received 6800 complaints this year and granted 38 natural garden exemptions – so her point being that the balance of the complaints were justified.
Bylaw officers are being trained to distinguish between native plants and noxious weeds and naturalized versus neglected.
Mark Cullen made the point that native gardens are not neglected but must be tended with similar care to traditional gardens. He said that if a garden was cut to the ground and left unattended it would be regenerate with 70% invasives.

1994 Sandy Bell was issued a $50 fine for her natural garden, fought it and the bylaw was declared uninforceable
In early 2000, Douglas Counter took his case to the Ontario Superior court and won the right to garden on a public boulevard
2019 again a gardener Deborah Dale fought for the right to garden with native plants. The case was settled out of court with a gag order.
In Cobourg, Miriam Mutton’s boulevard garden was cut down 3 times before it was allowed to stay and ironically, during a summer drought when all the boulevards were brown, hers was lush and used as an example for their Cities in Bloom entry
In Burlington in June 2018, Doreen Nicoll was ordered to remove milkweed

Ecological Design Lab

For those of you that missed, or want to review, the excellent Webinar on Bylaw 489 Grass and Weeds that Lorraine Johnson and Nina-Marie Lister organized and Carly Murphy ably hosted, it is online at

For those that are not familiar with Bylaw 489, consider yourselves blessed, but you still may want to review the webinar because the bylaw can be used to threaten just about any garden in Toronto with vegetation over 20cm at any time.

I especially recommend 36:24 – 45:15, 59:43 – 1:05:09, 1:27:28 – 1:31:10 where Patricia Landry from Parks, Forestry and Recreation gives her position on the bylaw.

While Patricia is well aware of the issues Toronto faces around biodiversity, climate change etc. she didn’t actually propose any significant changes to the bylaw. I expect further lobbying will be required to effect real change to the bylaw.

Royal Ontario Museum Special Offer

Save 15% off ROM Admission

Buy your timed tickets online and enter promo code: LEGS

Florals: Desire and Design 

On view through September 6, 2021

With world-wide exploration and economic expansion in the 1700s came a fascination with plants and flowers, Floralshighlights botany’s connection to the culture of the era throughinfluential botanical publications and exquisite illustrationsalongside stunning Indian cotton textiles covered with colourful hand-painted flowers.

The Cloth that Changed the World: India’s Painted and Printed Cottons

On view through September 6, 2021

Featuring pieces from the Museum’s world-renowned collection, this ROM-original exhibition explores how India’s artisans have created, perfected and innovated printed and painted multicoloured cotton fabrics to fashion the body, honour divinities, and beautify palaces and homes.

What You Need to Know Before Your Visit: We encourage you to learn more about the ROM’s safety measures in preparation for your visit to the Museum. The ROM has rigorous health and safety protocols in place for our visitors and staff, which is our top priority.

Social media:

Twitter: @ROMtoronto

Instagram: @ROMtoronto

Exhibition: #ROMchintz

Image Credit:1. Woman’s jacket. Made in coastal southeast India for the Dutch market; used in Hindeloopen, Friesland. Mordant-dyed and resist-dyed cotton, 18th century, 57.8 cm.


Buy your tickets online

Florals: Desire & Design

The Cloth that Changed the World: India’s Painted and Printed Cottons

What you need to know before your visit:

Seeds of Diversity Online Events

As we approach the beginning of the Seedy Saturday/Sunday season, Seeds of Diversity is hosting one last set of meetings for organizers to get together virtually to chat. This time around, we have created the meetings based on topic: 1) running a seed exchange, 2) putting together webinars, 3) promoting vendors, 4) revenue streams, and 5) technical components.
Please see below for details, including Zoom links, for each upcoming meeting. Registration is required, to give us a chance to gauge interest and attendance prior to each meeting. 
We will be recording each of the meetings to share with those unable to attend – please let me know if this is a problem for you prior to the meeting(s) you will be attending. ————————** Times are in EST. 2PM EST = 3PM AST1PM CST12PM MST11AM PST
Meeting #1: Running a seed exchange amidst COVID-19  
When: Jan 12, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

Meeting #2:  Finding speakers and putting together webinars 
When: Jan 13, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

Meeting #3: Promoting local seed companies and other vendors
When: Jan 14, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

Meeting #4: Revenue streams 
When: Jan 19, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

Register in advance for this meeting:

Meeting #5: Technical components of online events When: Jan 20, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 
Register in advance for this meeting:

Thank you, we are looking forward to seeing 2021 Seedy Saturday and Seedy Sunday events come to life! 
Rayna AlmasMedia and Promotions Co-ordinatorSeeds of Diversity Canada People Protecting Seeds and Pollinators for over 30 Years

Join US Garden Season 2021

Want to be part of something great?

community urban gardening

Well, have we got the best place for you:
Our community garden group:

Lakeshore Environmental Gardening Society

Take the survey below to join in and participate

Create your own user feedback survey

Tales from the garden

We have been admiring these two pretty plants that appeared in our garden until we were able to identify them as poisonous and invasive species.

Jimson Weed. All parts of this plant is poisonous including flower, leaf and seeds.
Velvet Leaf. Highly invasive.

Do not hesitate to remove them if you see them in your garden!

Here is some more information about the two unwanted species.

Jimson Weed.

All parts of this plant is poisonous including flower, leaf and seeds.

Angel Tulip, Chasse-Taupe, Datura, Datura inermis, Datura lurida, Datura Officinal, Datura Parviflora, Datura stramonium, Datura tatula, Devil’s Apple, Devil’s Trumpet, Endormeuse, Estramonio, Herbe du Diable, Herbe aux Magiciens, Herbe aux Sorciers, Herbe aux Taupes, Higuera del Diablo, Jamestown Weed, Locoweed, Mad-apple, Man Tao Luo, Nightshade, Peru-apple, Pomme Épineuse, Pomme Poison, Pommette Féroce, Stinkweed, Stinkwort, Stramoine, Stramoine Commune, Stramonium, Thorn-apple, Trompette des Anges, Trompette de la Mort, Yiang Jin Hua.

Jimson weed is UNSAFE when taken by mouth or inhaled. It is poisonous and can cause many toxic effects including dry mouth and extreme thirst, vision problems, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate, hallucinations, high temperature, seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness, breathing problems, and death. The deadly dose for adults is 15-100 grams of leaf or 15-25 grams of the seeds.

Velvet Leaf

This is not poisonous
What is Velvet Leaf?
This pesky plant is a member of the mallow family, which also includes desirable plants such as hibiscus, hollyhock and cotton. An upright annual weed that can reach heights of 7 feet, velvetleaf is named for the huge, heart-shaped leaves, which are covered with fine, velvety hair. The thick stems are also covered with hair. Clusters of small, five-petaled flowers appear in late summer. Controlling Velvetleaf Plants Velvetleaf weed control is a long-term project because one plant creates thousands of seeds, which remain viable in the soil for an incredible 50 to 60 years. Cultivation of the soil may seem like a good solution, but it only brings seeds to the surface where they are able to germinate readily. However, it’s a good idea to mow the plants while they’re small to prevent them from going to seed. Rapid response is key, and eventually, you’ll gain the upper hand.

Abundance of herbs and tea blending

Our tea fundraiser is starting to get under way, we have an abundance of herbs in the gardens and we thought it was a great idea to link the herbs we harvest and the love of herbal teas to create unique tea blends.

So far we have harvested and dried:

  • Spearmint
  • Chocolate mint
  • Sage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Raspberry leaves. 

Not only are we going to make regular tea bags, with a one portion application. We will also make our individual blends in small jars.  These blends will give you the opportunity to be creative and design your own tea blends in the comfort of your own home. Do you have a secret family recipe for a tea, which you wish to share?

 Herbal teas are not only used to sip and enjoy but to use as medicinal purposes also, for example: winter time blend of sage, oregano and ginger with a dash of honey is a wonderful immune booster, for colds and flu. Mint is very soothing for an upset stomach. We are in need of:Very small mason jars and lidsCraft paper, ribbon, twine for decoratingLabels

Volunteers Needed

To work on creative tea blends and to put together a guide to the medicinal herbs (and their properties) we have harvested. So we can educate others on their benefits.

  • Dry edible flowers for the teas.
  • Dry organic citrus fruit rinds
  • Harvest and dry more herbs.
  • Dry organic ginger pieces
  • We need dried lavender buds to mix into the tea blends
  • Olivier is drying some apples to add to the blends.
  • Ideas for creative labels.


Volunteers to promote and distribute the finished product.  

On Monday 14th September, we will start the tea blending & tea bag making process for our fundraiser in October, details to follow. Let me know if you wish to participate and in which way, I can arrange  a time and day for you to pickup the necessary herbs and jars/tea bags. 

We need volunteers to make this fundraiser a success.

Let Catherine, our garden coordinator know your ideas and recipes. Let’s have fun with this and expand our knowledge of herbal teas at the same time.  

 Some facts:In the United Kingdom around 165 million cups of tea are drank everyday!That’s 62 Billion cups a year. The total value of the worldwide tea market is around $20 Billion!