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Bearbells – Gardening

Bearbells – Gardening

Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

July 30, 2023 – This week’s hike is the most unusual I have ever done.  The distance was a short 5 km, the terrain was a mixture of hills and golf courses, and the path consisted of mud; mud and….foam, lots and lots of foam.  That’s right, my friend Linda had signed us up for the Foam Fest at Horseshoe valley, and what an adventure that was!!  Never tell two ladies over fifty that they can’t foam it out with the best of them!

We started out on one of the early heats, just after 0800.  The day could not have been more perfect for a foamy hike, with clear skies and no humidity.  The excitement of the crowd, even at this early hour, was pumped, helped along by the most exuberant and outgoing emcee you could imagine.  His energy was contagious, and we were all cheering and dancing with excitement.  Ahead of us was the start line, which consisted of a wall of suds.  Our emcee emphasised that this was a fun run, and that you could run, walk or even crawl, as long as you enjoyed your day.  Thank god, as there was no way this chubby bunny could run anymore, hike yes, but no running unless a bear was chasing me and I needed to outrun my partner.  Sorry Linda.

The horn sounded and off we went, at a somewhat sedate pace, through the twelve foot wall of foam.  We were told not to eat or inhale the foam, and I had to wonder what had previously happened that they needed to put out this warning.  I admit, I pictured groups of people sitting in the foam pit and gulping down handfuls of sudsy delights like toddlers in a bubble bath.  Hmm, who am I to judge.  Thankfully, today everyone was in adult mode and made it out of the first foam pit without incident and headed up the hills. I loved that there were no expectations, and that there were people of all ages, from kids to seniors, and of every body type and ability.  The best part was that there was no judgement, and I have never experienced such a supportive and happy group of individuals.  At one part we all had to wend our way through a spider web of cables, and the competitive runners were patient and understanding of those of us less athletic people.  Throughout this course every person was smiling and joking with the strangers surrounding us.

The course itself is not too difficult, and you can always walk around any obstacle that you think is too difficult.  I have been having some knee issues, and when it came to the barriers that you are supposed to do a military style crawl under, I was concerned that I might not be able to stand up again.  So I decided to change things up.  If I could not crawl, I could still roll, and there I went through the wet grass rolling under the obstacles.  It was hilarious to look back and see several others following my lead and taking the route less traveled.  There was one obstacle that I did not even attempt.  It was a large rope challenge that was tent shaped, though about 25 feet tall.  I detest heights, and added to that was my knee issues, and I knew I had to bow out.  Shout out to my friend Linda, who I cheered on and who did a great job on this obstacle.

Throughout the morning we walked through forests, across golf courses, through various foam pits, and over and under several obstacles, laughing all the time.  However, I was becoming nervous, as my friend kept mentioning her excitement over the fifty-foot water slide.  Did I not just mention that I hate heights?  We came out of the bush to a large clearing, and there it is, an inflatable fifty-foot slide.  Oh my.  I kept a smile on my face and pretended that I was thrilled to be doing this.  Nope, not at all, I wanted to vomit, or pee, or maybe both.  And then it is our turn, and we must clamber up a slick and wet rubber vertical ladder, where I am already having serious doubts about my ability to do this, up and up to the top where I look down an impossible incline of wet rubber to a pit of murky water.  Nope, nope, nope. Then there is my friend Linda, cleaning her glasses, adjusting her hat, wondering where she should put her things, until I reach over, shove her down and follow with my eyes closed, as I knew that if I don’t go now, I will never go.  Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and admit you are terrified and let go.  The best part is the exhilaration at the end when you realize you are still alive and did something that terrifies you.

Eventually we made our way back to the last foam wall at the end of the course.  People are cheering and clapping.  What an amazing day with an amazing friend.


Revive Those Tired Old Baskets!

By Stephanie Brash, Master Gardener

March 29, 2023 -Are your flowering containers and baskets feeling the heat? Are annuals that were once glorious starting to look straggly and tired? All is not lost, you can return them to their former glory in a few simple steps.

1.)      Cut leggy plants back by half. Although it may seem daunting to remove so much of your prized plants, most annuals actually love a haircut. Removing spent flowers and leggy branches signals to the plant that it needs to make more. Make your cuts just above where leaves come from the stem, which is where new growth will occur. Improvement will begin quickly, likely within a few days, and within in a week or two there will be new flowers budding.

2.)      Fertilize. A lack of adequate nutrition can be part of the reason for waning pots later in the season as the roots will have expanded to fill the soil and mined what is available. Even timed-release fertilizer will be past its prime by now, plants will have used most of it up, and some of it will have naturally washed out of the soil over multiple waterings. Use a water-soluble fertilizer at this point in the season to easily give the plants a boost of energy during a regular watering.

3.)      Thin Out. If you (perhaps intentionally) overcrowded your containers early in the season for instant gratification (I am guilty of this) then the plants may be choking each other out as they fight for room to grow further. Feel free to remove one or two and replace the spaces they leave with fresh soil to revive your remaining potted plants.

4.)      Replace any individual plants that do not start to quickly improve by swapping out the summer annuals for a new plant with more fall-like colours available in greenhouses this time of year. Consider adding a little houseplant for some leaf colour and shape variation such a croton or spider plant. Or, add a small pumpkin or funky gourd to fill in any bare spots.


Do you have a bare spot in one of your garden beds from spring or early summer-blooming perennials’ dying foliage? Replant one of your pots in the garden!

If your hanging baskets are rootbound and water seeps right through, they can be planted in their entirety in a garden bed. The new space and soil will completely rejuvenate your worn-out plants, and provide a splash of colour to your perennial bed for the rest of the growing season. Dig a hole about 50% larger than the existing root ball. Carefully remove the plant from the basket, lightly breaking apart the rootbound edges. Soak the plant, fill the bottom and the edges of the hole with compost, fertilize after planting with a water-soluble fertilizer. The plant’s roots will quickly reach out to absorb the new nutrients and bounce back to life with a beautiful display of colour well into the fall.

Here’s to getting a second life out of those worn-out baskets and planters this summer! Happy Gardening!

This series of gardening articles brought to you by the Simcoe County Master Gardeners, members of the Master Gardeners of Ontario. For more information, visit www.simcoecountymg.ca.


Get Your Shovel out for Dog Strangling Vine

By Cathy Krar, Master Gardener

March 29, 2023 – Dog Strangling Vine, (DSV), tops my list for most “unwanted invasive species”.  Having spent hours and hours this past year cutting seed pods, digging out root systems and mowing DSV plants on private properties and hiking trails, I am convinced that this invader is big trouble.   It is not particular about habitat. DSV can be found in fields, shrub thickets, on lake coastlines, stream banks, from tall bluffs to deep ravines, from deep shade forest to open prairie.

What is the fuss all about you may ask?  Well, perhaps the most well known threat that DSV poses is to our at risk Monarch butterfly population.  DSV mimics native milkweed and confuses our Monarchs so that that they mistakenly lay they eggs on DSV.  The butterfly larvae starve to death because DSV does not provide the nourishment they need. And if that wasn’t enough to be concerned about, DSV outcompetes our native plants for sunlight, space, water and nutrients.  The third weapon in the arsenal is that this invasive, releases chemicals through its roots which inhibit the growth of plants around it.  Dense growth of DSV suppresses our native tree seedlings and woodland groundcover plants so heavily that it adversely affects forest regeneration.

If you find DSV growing on your property, rapid removal is the best course of action.  If you come upon a large area affected by DSV make a joint effort with your neighbours to control the spread of this invasive.  And report your finding to www. ontarioinvasiveplants.ca or by calling the hotline at 1-800-563-7711

The best way to tackle a patch of DSV is by digging out the roots and then disposing of in black plastic bags to cook for up to 3 weeks in direct sunlight.  Do not compost or mulch this plant!  Even the smallest root fragments can regrow so it is a good idea to keep the site under surveillance for as long as three years to ensure eradication efforts are successful.  If the site is too big to dig out entirely then mowing after the flowers have bloomed and before the plant produces seed will reduce the spread of the noxious plant.   If you find large areas of DSV in open fields then tarping the area with dark material to block sunlight will cook the root system. Leave the tarp for the entire growing season for highest success.  At the very least, a concentrated effort of seed pod removal in mid August- September will also stop further spread of DSV.  Whatever you do, do not try tilling the plants in as this will just encourage new root growth.


Next time you’re out on a hike, keep an eye out for this aggressive bully and Monarch butterfly enemy and do what you can to eliminate it from our public trail systems.

This series of gardening articles brought to you by the Simcoe County Master Gardeners, members of the Master Gardeners of Ontario. For more information, visit www.simcoecountymg.ca.


Proceeds to Hospice Huronia

The Georgian Bay Garden Tour,  on Sat. August 12, 2023, is an annual tour that is held in the second week in August, and encompasses properties in Midland, Penetanguishene, and the Townships of Tay and Tiny.

Tickets In Person

You can purchase tickets for $25 in person (cash only) at the following locations:

Norman’s Garden Gallery

830 Yonge St, Midland, ON L4R 2E7

Ritchie’s Feed N Needs & Garden Center

1548 County Rd 92, Elmvale, ON L0L 1P0

Wyevale Jug City

870 County Rd 6 S, Tiny, ON L0L 2T0

Wendy B’s Fine Foods

336 Lafontaine Rd W, Tiny, ON L9M 0H1

or Online


Join fellow plant enthusiasts on Saturday August 12th 2023 for the annual Georgian bay garden Tour. Your $25 ticket provides entry to 12 wonderful gardens located in Tiny, Penetanguishene, Midland and Tay. Some of the gardens are host to the work of  6 local artisans. Explore lovingly tended gardens in a variety of styles, delight in local art and craft and learn from local gardening hosts. At the same time your money will go to support a core community resource Hospice Huronia.

Visit our website for further details about tickets, garden and the artisans. ww.gardenbaygardentour.com

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