BIBLE HILL, N.S.
What plants do well in shade? What ornamentals are the most toxic? What flowers draw bees and butterflies?
People with questions like these might want to take in a presentation being offered at Dal AC, as gardening guru Todd Boland visits. Boland will also be signing copies of his new book, Favourite Perennials for Atlantic Canada.
“This is based on 40 years of gardening experience,” said Boland, who taught horticulture and now works at Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden. “We have an online gardening question site for the botanical gardens, and I thought it would be nice to put the information people wanted in a book.”
Boland, who grew up in St. John’s, N.L., remembers his earliest gardening experience, when his parents, who used most of the lot for growing vegetables, gave him a shady area under a maple tree to grow flowers.
“It was a challenge because of the shade, but I finally got things that would work there,” he said.
While in university, studying plant ecology, he became a plant collector and joined horticultural societies. His interest in plants continued to grow, and he ended up with a garden full of plants at his own home.
“I still go home and garden,” he said. “I consider myself fortunate that I managed to get a career that’s also my hobby. Not many people get up and look forward to work.”
The subjects of his first six books were wildflowers, trees and shrubs, and he felt it was time to focus on perennials.
Because photography is a hobby he enjoys, he had many photos of plants. The hardest part was choosing the ones he wanted to include in the book.
Boland is a fan of all ornamental plants, but orchids are a special favourite.
Hostas are favoured with many people, as well as being an edible treat for some animals.
“We don’t have deer in Newfoundland, but moose will eat the hostas,” said Boland. “Moose have eaten a lot of them at the gardens.”
Many people try to grow flowers that will attract bees and butterflies. Boland said bees find any blue flowers attractive, but they also like any type of daisy, along with many other plants. Early in the season, pussy willows and dandelions play an important role for them.
Boland is currently working on a book, which he will co-author with another gardener, about gardening in acidic soil.
Boland’s presentation and book signing in Bible Hill will take place at Dal AC, Cox Institute, room 24, Friday, May 18, 7-9 p.m.