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Garden Buzz — A look at events, hive rental, wearable wings & Birds Inc.

Spring / Summer Must-Do List

Wannabe beekeepers might do well to call up Algonquin College, which runs a four-week 16-hour course entitled The Urban Beekeeper. Participants study everything from honeybee biology to beekeeping equipment and from bee feeding to Ontario beekeeping regulations. Courses are currently scheduled for April and October.

The annual Native Plant Sale at Fletcher Wildlife Garden is a must-visit event for anyone looking to attract pollinators to their gardens. Experts are on hand to answer gardening questions, explain what plants attract what birds and insects, and consult on which species do well in specific growing conditions. June 3

Garden Days is a countrywide celebration of the importance of gardens and gardening. Last year, Ottawa gardeners hosted dozens of activities, including plant exchanges and educational tours and talks. Check the website for nearby events. June 9 to 18

Art in the Garden is an annual Father’s Day weekend mainstay for lovers of greenery — and garden art. Stroll through the extensive display plots at Kiwi Gardens, where some 40 artists and artisans show off a range of wares, including feeders, baths, nesting boxes, and sculptures. June 17 and 18

Queen Bee Party launched last year as an annual family-friendly event at the Canadian Agriculture Museum to coincide with World Honey Bee Day. A bee-themed exhibit, lots of honey-themed goods for sale and, most important for gardeners, experts offering advice on setting up your own backyard beehive.
August 19

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Local author Richard Hinchcliff pays tribute to both the successes of ornamental horticulture and the beauty of the gardens within Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm in Blooms. It is illustrated with historic photos of the gardens and the unique flowers that were bred at the Farm and includes stunning photos that capture the splendour of the present-day gardens and plants. Available here.

photography: Heather Gurney-Burgess (gees bees)
Photography: Heather Gurney-Burgess (gees bees)

Hive Talking

What better way to help the honeybee than to host a hive? It’s all the rage these days, and Gees Bees Honey Company has created a buzz with a hive rental service that’s bringing beehives to big backyards (you need about two acres) and rooftops across the capital. In 2016, owners Matt and Marianne Gee installed 75 hives in local backyards, and they have already received orders for 70 more for the 2017 season. You pay a beehive rental fee (starting at $57 per month for a year). Gees Bees then installs your hive in late May or early June, stops by every few weeks to check on the colony, and hands you 24 jars of honey in September. How cool is that? As a bonus, think how impressed visiting friends will be when you serve up your own small-batch artisanal honey on their breakfast toast.

Take Flight

Part of the Wing collection, these branched wing earrings are by Ana Catalina Montoya
Part of the Wing collection, these branched wing earrings are by Ana Catalina Montoya

Known simply as Wing, this pretty collection by Montreal-based jewellery artist Ana Catalina Montoya includes silver bracelets, necklaces, rings, brooches, and earrings. The dramatic hand-cast Long Wings earrings (right) see an elongated wing attached to a silver twig. Each of the two elements is available in a polished or oxidized finish. Montoya, who produces her work under the name Ka Joaillerie, sells through LA Pai Gallery (13 Murray St.). $145.

Bob Volks and Louise Beckinsale, owners, Gilligallou Bird Inc.
Bob Volks and Louise Beckinsale, owners, Gilligallou Bird Inc.

Bird Inc.

Bob Volks and Louise Beckinsale, owners, Gilligallou Bird Inc., speak about their passion:

We opened the first store in Almonte in 2011, then the second on Preston Street last year. If I was crazy enough to open the first store in my 50s, I thought, why not a second store in my 60s!

  I’m a bird, rocks, and trees kind of guy — I’ve always been interested in birds and nature in general. We are part of the natural process, which is why we have to educate ourselves and others.

  We test our bird feeders and nesting boxes in our yard. If you go on our website, you’ll see that I post regularly on YouTube and write a blog with all kinds of information — from how to keep squirrels away from your feeders to how to install bird boxes.

  If you stock fresh, good-quality seed, the birds will come. Once they find your food source, they’ll keep returning and your yard will become an oasis.

  Last summer, I planted 1,000 square feet of my garden with a mix of native flowers and shrubs. It was amazing how quickly the wildlife moved in! I want to encourage urban gardeners to do this on a smaller scale in their backyards.

  One of the lesser-known products we sell is bird-friendly coffee. It’s shade-grown in South America, so the forests aren’t being destroyed to support coffee production. The birds eat the bugs on the plants, so the growers don’t need to use pesticides.

  We have a responsibility to make our gardens more bird- and bee-friendly. We have done so much to alter their environment that it’s time for us to give back and help.

The Gilligallou Bird stores are located at 14 Mill St. in Almonte and at 160 Preston St. in Little Italy