Roses are Considered to be Picky

By Sandra Venton Master Gardener

Roses are considered to be picky, fussy, finicky, and a host of other pejorative adjectives denigrating them, but they strike a chord in the hearts of many gardeners, including myself. I planted by first rose in 1957 when I was ten years old – it was ‘Virgo’, a hybrid tea, and of course it lasted for one year, and promptly passed away during the next winter. Regroup and replant. Next came the hybrid tea ‘The Doctor’ in 1959, and it managed to last for 2 years, and then it also gave up the ghost.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Garden Plastic

By Jane Zoutman, Master Gardener

Spring has sprung and Manitoba gardener’s thoughts have turned to planting. We should also be thinking of what products we are using and how we dispose of them. Gardeners use a lot of plastic, from plant pots to the Velcro used to tie up plants. The plastic is often not recyclable so it ends up in the landfill and eventually in our water as pieces of plastic or micro plastics.

My Childhood Dream to Create an Indigenous Garden – Part 1

By Elizabeth Sellors, Master Gardener

An indigenous garden is one that respects the flora that evolved over millennia and that established itself prior to the introduction of European settlements. An indigenous garden is one that cares for wildlife through synergistic relationships. An indigenous garden is one in harmony with nature, put together as nature would, without geometry and controlling structure and with minimal interference from a gardener.

Gardening Question of the Month

Last year I had flea beetles in one of my vegetable garden boxes (thankfully only one) and I couldn’t get rid of them. I tried diatomaceous earth, neem oil, and planting some trap plants to lure them away (radishes). Nothing worked very well, but maybe there were too many by the time I tried to combat them.
I guess I have 2 questions:
1. what is the best way to get rid of them?
2. is the garden box where they lived last year going to be a bastion for them again? or does the winter erase that? Last year, that garden box had kale, lettuce, and arugula, and then the radishes (which turned out quite nice!)

CANCELLED Garden Tour 2020

Tropical Foliage Plants

By Colleen Zacharias, Master Gardener

As gardeners, we have a deep interest in plants – even those we may not personally grow in our gardens or homes. As Master Gardeners, we have a deep interest in sustainable solutions and growing practices. I can’t explain where my deep curiosity about the intricacies of a nursery or greenhouse operation comes from. I have never worked in the horticulture industry but that is where my fascination lies. The chance to pull back the curtain on the inner workings of a greenhouse operation and the opportunity to listen to a grower or nursery owner describe her or his specific challenges is a window to understanding the consolidated efforts that go into bringing plants to the marketplace.

Sweet Potatoes Sweet Research

By Dr. Sajjad A. Rao

In recent years, the importance of growing sweet potato has increased considerably in Canada. About 1,700 acres are currently grown in Canada on a commercial scale, with southern Ontario’s Norfolk County hosting the majority of this acreage. These operations mostly grow long-season varieties, common in the southern United States. Canada’s growers supply less than one quarter of the sweet potatoes consumed in this country. In 2018, imports of fresh sweet potatoes amounted to approximately 72,390 metric tons in Canada; an increase of around 28,040 metric tons as compared to 2008. Due to market and industry demand, sweet potato became a crop of interest for Canadian growers, and is now making in-roads in Manitoba farms and gardens as a potential crop for Manitoba vegetable growers and gardeners.

Manitoba’s Provincial Flower – The Prairie Crocus

By Meera Sinha, Master Gardener in Training (MGIT)

The prairie crocus, unlike its common name suggests, is not a crocus (Iris family) but an anemone, Anemone patens, syn. Pulsatilla patens, and belongs to the buttercup or crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae). Cut-leaved anemone (Anemone multifida), long-fruited anemone (Anemone cylindrica), and Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) all native to Manitoba, are closely related to it.

Anemos = wind (Greek), patent = lying open (Latin), pulsare = to beat (Latin)

It has many different common names throughout North America: Pasque flower, wind flower, prairie smoke, blue tulip, ears of the earth, gosling flower.

It is a long-lived (several decades) flowering perennial herb occurring throughout the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It can be found on the sunny, wind-swept, dry, uncultivated native prairie and in open woods.

In early spring, the hairy flower emerges from a single hairy stem. The flower is one to two inches across with blue-violet sepals that are pointed at the tips. The sepals are usually 6 in number and arranged like a saucer. They reflect the sunlight towards the center, warming it by as much as 10º C above the surrounding temperature. Numerous yellow stamens and a tuft of greyish pistils in the warm center act as a food source and a warm-up shelter for pollinators in early spring. The flower is open during the day and closes at night. The narrowly segmented leaves emerge after flowering and the risk of frost is over. They stay green throughout the summer.

As the flower fades, the numerous pistils develop into a hairy seed head (reminiscent of clematis and three flowered avens, Geum triflorum) while the hairy stalk elongates. The spear-shaped seeds (achenes), with their distinct characteristics of backward pointing hairs on a water absorbing tail, ensure successful self-planting.
The root is a woody taproot. Early on the root system develops a symbiotic partnership with mycorrhizae which assists in the establishment of the seedling by exchange of nutrients. In the first two years, the plant develops an extensive and deep root system that adapts well to the drought prone prairie environment.

American Goldfinches and black birds eat the seeds of the prairie crocus in the summer. While the hairy prairie crocus is unattractive to the grazing livestock, the ground squirrels, deer and elk are undeterred by its defense strategies. The plant contains a poisonous alkaloid, protoanemonin that can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms when ingested.

The First Nations Peoples were aware of the plant’s properties and used it to treat rheumatism and muscle pain with the application of poultices. They were aware of the danger of ingestion.

The massive loss of prairie habitat has resulted in a decline of the prairie crocus and as a result its conservation status is under review in North America. It is not yet on the Endangered Species Act list, although it is at risk in Nunavut and Ontario. In the United States it is critically endangered in Utah and possibly extirpated in Kansas. In Europe it is on the list of endangered species of vascular plants (Red List).

If you wish to grow prairie crocus in your garden, please note that it is unethical to dig up wild native plants. According to Ethical Gardener’s Guidelines (Johnson, Lorraine; 100 Easy to Grow Native Plants, Whitecap Book, 2005) one should obtain native plants from seed, garden, or nursery and buy only wildflowers and ferns certified by the vendors as “Nursery Propagated.”

Prairie crocus plants can be purchased from native plant nurseries and it can be successfully grown from seed with a little care. The prairie crocus likes a well-drained sandy or gravelly soil in full sun to light shade.

Find further instructions on how to grow prairie crocus in your garden in this Fact Sheet from Shirley Froehlich, former owner of Prairie Originals Native Plant Nursery .

Hometown Habitat-Stories of Bringing Nature Home (Film)

Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home
Saturday, February 1, 2020
12 noon (doors open 11:30am)

Cinematheque Theatre
100 Arthur St., Winnipeg, MB
Cost: Non-member: $15.00 Member: $10.00
All are Welcome!

The Meadow Project’s mission is to educate and raise awareness about sustainable, native, healthy, easy and affordable land care practices that support wildlife and human life.

This documentary features renowned entomologist Douglas Tallamy, whose research, books and lectures about the use of non-native plants in landscaping sound the alarm about habitat and species loss. Producer/director Catherine Zimmerman of the Meadow Project spent two years visiting and filming seven Hometown Habitat heroes. Their inspiring stories of community commitment to conservation landscaping illustrate Tallamy’s vision by showing how humans and nature can co-exist with mutual benefits.
The 90-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion led by Linda Dietrick, editor of The 2020 Prairie Garden “Inspired by Nature.” The panelists are:
Carla Zelmer, biology instructor and manager of the Buller Greenhouse at the University of Manitoba;  Chris Penner, restoration ecologist with the landscape firm Scatliffe Miller Murray; and Aimee McDonald, owner of the native plant nursery Prairie Flora in Teulon, Manitoba.

Gardening Garage & Bake Sale

Let’s celebrate the start of Spring!
Are you cleaning up your garage – or downsizing your house?

Donate your gently-used garden-related items to the MMGA Garden Garage Sale! We will accept tools, equipment, books, magazines, garden ornaments, planters, etc

And what is a Garage Sale without a Bake Sale? Do you like to bake? Why not donate some of your specialities (well wrapped and labelled, of course).

Or do you have a plant specialty, that you want to share, either through demonstration or for sale?

There will also be a limited number of tables available for members and garden vendors. Tables for MMGA members are free, tables for non-members, groups -$15.

Any questions, or to reserve a table, contact Shelley at 257-1327 or