By Emily Stonehouse
During these long, gray days of winter, it’s welcoming to think about getting your hands dirty in the garden in just a few short months. The Friends of Ecological and Environment Learning (FEEL) are once again rolling up their sleeves to prepare for their annual plant sale. The sale focuses on native plants to the region, and offers participants the opportunity to become an ecologically conscious gardener.
“FEEL’s Native Plant Sale is a longstanding fundraiser; it has and will continue to be one of the main ways our charity raises funds for our primary educational project, the Haliburton-Muskoka-Kawartha Children’s Water Festival,” said FEEL chair, Stephanie Field, “The water and climate change-themed educational programming children access through our festival is free; it is crucial it remains inclusive in this way, your support in our sale helps to ensure this.”
The Native Plant sale administrator & coordinator, Cara Steele, noted that native plants can be used to beautify your property, start a garden, shade a patio, start a trellis, create wildlife habitat, naturalize a shoreline, reforest an open area, control erosion and support pollinators. She also noted that through the plant sale, they have offered new services this year to include property consultation and planting services. Steele said that this service would offer the opportunity to have FEEL ecologists plant trees, shrubs, and wildflowers right on your property, and would assist you in determining the best locations to plant, so you can make the most of your native plants.
Field and Steele said that they primarily sell bare-root plant species, with the exception of a few potted perennial flowers. They reiterated that native plants are the way to go in the region. On top of being better adapted to the climate and soils found here, they are also instrumental in supporting ecological relationships, and offering extensive root systems to control erosion alongside shorelines and steep banks.
This year, pick-up for plants will be held at Abbey Gardens in May. “I am very enthusiastic and grateful for our partnership with Abbey Gardens,” said Field, “Our missions are complimentary, and I am very optimistic about this added exposure to our fundraiser sale.”
Field noted that while the plant sale has identified itself as a successful fundraiser in the past, she believes that it can continue to grow. “We have a very dedicated customer base of local landowners that rely on our annual sale to continually increase their property’s biodiversity,” she said, “We are certainly motivated to continue to support them but would love to see more interest from our lake associations.” She noted that native plants would assist in supporting lake health and biodiversity.
The plant sale is opening soon for online shopping at www.ecoenvirolearn.org, and will remain open until April 1.