The Hamilton-Burlington area is part of the Carolinian Zone, which includes 2,200 plant, 70 tree and 400 bird species, more than any other part of Canada.
In fact, it contains one-third of Canada’s rare and endangered species, including 150 which are at risk of extermination.
Some plants date back as much as 10,000 years.
However, by 1800, 60 per cent of the forests were gone and since then, as a result of development, the zone’s natural areas have been reduced in size by more than 90 per cent.
“We’re trying to reverse that trend and give some of our wildlife a habitat in the city,” said Joanne Tunnicliffe, a well-known Dundas gardener.
Tunnicliffe, who has been gardening for 30 years and is known in the Hamilton area as ‘Mother Nature’, secured government grants to plant some species on the property of the First Unitarian Church on Dundurn St., because the Hamilton Conservation Authority wants them protected.
An outdoor education expert, who once operated a company called Nature’s Trails, Tunnicliffe has an all-Carolinian garden at her home in the Valley Town.
“We have to realize there’s a place in our garden for bedding plants, pollinator plants and Carolinians,” she said.
Carolinian, native and wild plants will be available for sale at the church, 170 Dundurn St., S., on Saturday, May 13 from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Among the Carolinian varieties available are Robert geraniums, milkweed, beebalm, golden seal and goldenrod.
There’ll also be plenty of perennials like hostas, phlox, chrysanthemums and echinacia, as well as periwinkle and pachasandra, used for ground cover and herbs like mint, parsley, chives and oregano.
Carolinian plants that are rare will be not be for sale, for obvious reasons.
Tunnicliffe said Carolinian plants are beneficial to the environment because they provide an important habitat for wildlife and they don’t have to be watered.
“We’re conserving water here at the church,” she said. “Once these plants are in the ground, they’re in.”
Red wigglers, the original North American worm, also will be featured at the sale.
Unlike earth worms, which were imported from Europe and eat too much plant life, red wigglers need a lot of nitrogen. They get it from the organic food scraps fed to them, making them perfect for a composting environment.
Proceeds from the sale will aid three initiatives of the church’s social justice program – the Sacajawea non-profit housing project, which provides and maintains housing units for low to moderate income native families and individuals; the Eva Rothwell Centre, a one-stop shop for community members in need of support and the necessary resources to lift themselves out of poverty; and the LGBTQ community.
Unitarian Universalism embraces seven principles which focus on the respect for the dignity of every person, justice equity and compassion in human relations and acceptance of one another, among other things.
Thursday is the regular gardening day at the church and city residents are welcome to drop by between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to view Carolinian plants growing in a triangular-shape piece of land behind the building.
“We really want people to come out and problem-solve about their own gardens,” Tunnicliffe said.
Tunnicliffe is very concerned about the eco-system in general.
For example, she urges homeowners not to harm dandelions since they are the last plant from which honey bees take nectar before going to sleep for the winter.
“I think all people want to be part of saving the environment,” she said.