February 17, 2016

Spring is in the air at Erin Garden Club

As published in The Erin Advocate

In the middle of winter, when the great outdoors is looking a bit dreary, a meeting of the Erin Garden Club is just the thing to stir up hopes of springtime.

The group normally meets in the Wellington Room at Centre 2000, providing an opportunity each month for education and inspiration on all aspects of gardening.

“We are a service group and we need new volunteers to help in planting and maintaining gardens in the village of Erin,” said President Jenny Frankland, at the January meeting.

Birdhouse Building was the topic for speaker JoAnne Howes, but not the traditional style of construction. She took on the creative challenge of making birdhouses out of natural material such as gourds, or household objects just waiting to be re-used.

“We went to Wastewise and got all kinds of junk,” said Howes, showing off a series of unique creations. “We had fun making these, and I think we spent $10.”

Howes showed off several bird shelters made from unlikely items, such as a teapot, a jelly mould, an olive oil can and children’s rubber boots. You can even make a birdhouse out of a 2-litre plastic pop bottle, painted to suit your garden d├ęcor. Step-by-step instructions for various projects are readily available on-line.

Nest-friendly enclosures will normally have a hole of 1 to 1.5 inches, and an interior area of 4 to 5 inches square, depending on the type of bird you want to attract. An outside perch is needed, and some ventilation and drainage holes inside are a good idea.

Instead of creating complete birdhouses, some gardeners simply like to create sheltered nooks for birds that are willing to build more open nests. Just make sure that cats can’t get at them.

Birds will use a wide variety of materials for nests, including sticks, moss, grasses, leaves, feathers, dog hair, dryer lint, pine needles, bits of string and cedar chips. Providing a nearby supply could encourage a building project.

The Garden Club has a series of flower shows with different themes, where members can compete with entries that they have grown or designed.

There are various guest speakers throughout the year, with Garden Ergonomics featured at the February 24 meeting. Other topics include the growing of cacti and other succulents, plant spirit medicine and home landscape principles.

Some sessions provide hands-on workshops, such as Fairy Garden Planting, Garden Hedgehogs and Seasonal Decorations.

Other events are field trips to special gardens, and there’s the Garden House Tour on July 16, which is open to the public. On September 9-10, the club will have their Plant Sale at McMillan Park in Erin village. The Annual Meeting in October features a Photography Show.

Members are entitled to discounts at Country Crops, Country Garden Concrete, the Dufferin Garden Centre, Greenscape Nursery and Meadowville Garden Centre.

More information about the club, also known as the Erin Horticultural Society, is available at eringardenclub.ca.