Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Well, this is a record for me.  The farthest I have ever travelled to hike.  A whopping 1900 km’s.  A car ride that started off at home and took me halfway across a country, and here we are in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  OK, I admit I am not here just to hike, but to touch the cold Atlantic waters, to taste the food filled with east coast flavour and of course to hear some of that fabulous Arcadian music.  Just to make things more interesting, I have an anaphylactic allergy to shellfish, which makes dining out an experience and a thrill akin to being chased by bears.

The trip by car was long, but so worth it.  We drove east from Midland and took the northern route to avoid the Toronto congestion and smog.  The terrain was uneventful until the surprisingly very large hills/mountains around the Bancroft area that led us up and over several large round humps of earth that seemed to grow ever larger.  Eventually we navigated down and around Ottawa and then up through Montreal until stopping for the night in Quebe city.  There were so many places I wanted to stop to hike, especially around Trois Rivieres, but just not enough time.  Leaving the beautiful old city of Quebec, we continued east and north along the trans Canada highway.  My favourite area was just north along the St. Lawerence River, looking across this great river to the Ile d’Orleans.  These huge mountains rise like behemoths, shrugging off the earth beyond the blue expanse of the massive river.  Eventually we leave the river behind, but the mountains continue, and often it feels like we are travelling upwards for hundreds of kilometres.  Perhaps we were.  A word to the wise, get gas when you can, as the stops are few and far between.

This country of ours is beautiful.  Quebec is heavy with evergreens, and I feel it would be easy to be lost forever if you entered its depths without being properly prepared.  New Brunswick had more mixed forests though the number of warnings about moose had me disappointed when I failed see a single one.  I suspect all those warning are to just to slow the Ontario drivers down.  Let me bust a myth here about Quebec drivers: they were the best drivers I have come across and wished more Ontario drivers would emulate their skills.  Everyone knew where their signal lights were and used them.  Drivers stayed to the right except when passing, except for the Ontario drivers who sat in the left lanes even when there was no reason to be there, and the Quebec drivers rarely sped.  I could get used to this.  Now here we are in Nova Scotia.

Tonight’s hike is an urban hike, as we leave the hotel and scout out around the downtown waterfront for a place to eat.  The hills are steep, and my footwear consists of fancy schmancy heels, not great for cobblestones or hills. However, it was all worth it, as we stumbled across an Irish pub, a perfect way to end our night.  We ate traditional Irish fair at the Old Triangle Irish Ale House and had a few pints while listening to the great singer Theo McIntosh.  A perfect way to end our long trip, and the perfect way to start the real hikes.  I will be heading out to Peggy’s lighthouse, then south to several hikes along the Annapolis Valley and then over to Maine and a stop in the Adirondacks.  I promise to have a real hike for my next article, though sometimes those urban hikes are needed.  Cheers from Nova Scotia.


Fall Wildlife Attractants Checklist

Aug.29, 2023- Black bears and other wildlife are looking for easy meals as summer turns to fall, so it is important that residents take a few minutes to do a check of their property for attractants.

Attractants are simply items – often food or food waste – that will draw the attention of wildlife, who may learn to continue returning to that site. While many animal lovers rejoice at the idea of visitors, attracting wildlife to one property means they’ll also commonly visit others and be at increased risk of being killed by government agencies. Animals like bears, coyotes, raccoons and others will also take greater risks to access food – such as crossing busy roads or getting closer to people and pets.

Fortunately, attractant checklists like the one below can help individuals identify possible attractants and manage them before they become an issue that affects wildlife and the community. Do you have any recommendations for attractants not on the list below? Let us know at info@TheFurBearers.com or in the comments on our social media pages!

Waste. Garbage cans, recycling bins, and organic waste should all be stored securely, as per local and provincial regulations. Often this means keeping waste in a secure location, like a shed with metal or heavy resin-based walls, or in the home, until the morning of pickup or delivery to a waste transfer station.

Bird feeders. High calorie, high fat bird seed will attract bears from a distance – as well as rodents, foxes, coyotes, birds of prey, and various other animals looking for a quick snack. It is recommended that bird feeders are removed from early spring to late fall, and should be monitored frequently for spillage. Some communities advise removing bird feeders entirely due to these issues.


Dividing is Multiplying

Written by Susie Cosack, Master Gardener

March 29, 2023 – Dividing perennials is an easy way to have beautiful blooms year after year while at the same time creating more plants for your garden. It is a task I do every 2-3 years or when my plants have outgrown their given space and need more room. The entire plant is weakened by having a large number of roots and leaves competing for water, food and light. Division of these overgrown, leggy plants is actually very good for them and essential for many perennials to stay vibrant and healthy. It is also a great way to spread plants around the garden, allowing me to create symmetry, repetition with colours and patterns, as well as change designs or placements that just don’t look right.

Dividing means to dig up overgrown plants and split them into smaller pieces to replant. The same traits, colours and characteristics of the original plant will exist in in each divided section. I generally divide spring and summer blooming plants in the fall, and fall blooming plants in the spring. There are always some plants, such as Sedums or Hostas, that are exceptions to the rule. With the proper care they can be divided anytime during the growing season.

I usually wait to divide my perennials until the frost is out of the ground early in the season or 4-6 weeks before a killing frost in the fall. Having tender roots, plants need time to regrow and should not be subjected to harsh wavering temperatures during this process.  When dividing, I dig out the entire plant I want to split, including as many roots as possible. I carefully separate the plant into sections. A good piece size should be about one-quarter of the original plant, each one having stems and roots. Since there are many different root types, using the right tool to separate is important. Plants with clumping root systems like Hostas need a sharp clean spade, or hatchet. Thin rhizomes or stolons (runners) like Bee balm has, can be divided with clean sharp knives, pruners, spades, or garden forks. Tightly woody crowned plants like my Peonies divide with a clean sharp handsaw or spade. And finally, when dividing thick rhizomed Bearded Iris I will again use clean sharp knives or pruners. Generally, think carefully before you cut, and use the tool that works the easiest for you.  I always know in advance where the sections will be replanted. I do this as soon as possible in a hole dug twice as wide as the roots and a little deeper than they are long. I make sure the plants are reset at the same depth they were growing in before being dug out. Sometimes I pot them as gifts, or make donations to local plant sales. I water all the divisions well to let the soil fill in around the roots and reduce any air bubbles. I top up with more soil if needed. To the plant, dividing is stressful so I give them extra attention in the coming days. Once the roots establish they will grow again. When the work is done, my one plant has been divided into many. Dividing is multiplying.


Dividing your perennials will reward you with healthier plants and provide you with plants to share with friends or to expand your own garden.

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.

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