How to - Gardening Basics

Helpful gardening websites

Every month's online consultant, Lorraine Flanigan, selects an outstanding website that is useful to fellow gardeners. Click the links below to see Lorraine's recommendations.

SUMMER 2008 -
There's plenty of buzz about the Great Sunflower Project, which aims to record the number of bees visiting patches of sunflowers around the world in an effort to understand where and how these essential pollinators may need help. Join now. Plant your sunflower seeds and submit (online or mail) counts of bees visiting your backyard this summer.

JUNE 2008 -
After browsing, you could be tossing out your paper-based gardening journal to join the growing web-based community of gardeners—from Australia to Sweden—who are sharing their experiences online. The site features a personal tabbed journal to track your garden's progress, a Q&A forum and a collaborative plant encyclopedia. is the Facebook for gardeners.

MAY 2008 - Grow 'Em's Plant Propagation Database
Start growing your garden with this online encyclopedia that explains how to propagate from seeds, cuttings and more. From annuals, bulbs and perennials to trees, shrubs and houseplants, Grow 'Em's plant propagation database reveals all. Host and curator Paul Postuma offers advice on general propagation techniques and provides instructions for growing more than 1,000 specific plants, from garden-variety types to exotic plants such as Venus flytraps, prickly pear cacti and eulalia grass. Log on and learn how to grow 'em!

Here's a website that will chase away the winter blues. is full of ideas for a host of gardening projects, from recycled barbecue planters to boot racks and grapevine obelisks. If that doesn't keep you busy, browse the gallery of seeds, which includes photos of plant specimens in flower and their seeds and pods, complete with germination instructions and full-colour labels for seed packets and plant tags. Maintained by a Zone 5b gardener, this homespun website is a delight to explore.

WINTER 2008 -
Billing itself as “gardening: from a West Coast, urban, organic perspective,” is a gardening blog that's fun to read from any point of view. Written by Vancouverite Andrea Bellamy, this personal online journal is a delightful stream of horticultural consciousness. Andrea riffs on topics as diverse as critters and wildlife, green gardening and retail therapy. The site is organized for easy navigation by topic or date, and readers can easily post their comments.

OCTOBER 2007 - Gardenline
Created at the University of Saskatchewan, Gardenline is an authoritative online resource for all Canadian gardeners. Fact sheets provide information on everything from houseplants and fruits and vegetables to trees and shrubs, pests and diseases. Canadian Gardening's TransCanada columnist Sara Williams is one of the site's contributors, providing practical information about fertilizers, improving soil drainage and starting seeds.

SEPTEMBER 2007 - Bugbios
The Bugbios website introduces an entire world of creepy crawlers. Organized into 14 groups, the site includes descriptions and photos (these could have been labeled to make browsing easier). Most helpful to backyard observers is the butterfly wing pattern identification panel, which makes recognizing a monarch or fritillary a cinch. To further explore the world of bugs, just click on “Entolinks” for a list of other insect-related websites.

SUMMER 2007 - BBC Gardening with Children
Kids the world over dig dirt. And one of the most creative, educational and fun websites for them is BBC Gardening with Children. This website has plenty of online projects as well as ideas for outdoor activities to get youngsters involved and excited about gardening. Each hands-on project, such as caterpillar magic, bug study and daisy chain gang, is presented in an easy-to-follow format. There's also a pestwatch game, pictures to print out and colour, and a fun facts section.

MAY 2007 -
Fertile ground for exploring the gardening world, Dave's Garden offers a “tool shed” of some of the best and unique gardening resources available online. Its PlantFiles database provides a wealth of information about 145,835 specimens (most with accompanying images), enriched with visitors' comments. Also included is a Top 10 list of the best plants (and, equally valuable, a mug's gallery of Top 10 thugs). PlantScout is much like the Royal Horticultural Society's plant-finder tool, but teamed with a member-based review of nurseries called Garden Watchdog, it's a helpful resource for finding reliable plant sources. Dave's Garden fosters a community of members that regularly log their gardening comments on the site's journals and blogs, and even provides a “Botanary” dictionary of botanical names as well as a glossary of gardening terms.

MARCH 2007 -
Part blog, part information resource, is an eclectic source of gardening tidbits. The electronic homebase of Jim Hole of Hole's Greenhouses and Nurseries in Alberta, the site is rich with Jim's musings on diverse horticultural topics, from growing gargantuan cannas to leafhoppers on Virginia creeper. Its garden videos are short and clear, and run the gamut from selecting plants for shade to watering container gardens. An extensive selection of downloadable Pocket Guides-by the late Lois Hole-offers handy plant lists and how-tos on a variety of subjects!

FEBRUARY 2007 - Grow 'Em Plant Propagation Database
Before setting seed to potting soil, explore the Grow 'Em Plant Propagation Database. The creation of passionate hobbiest Paul Postuma, this website is a comprehensive resource for advice on making new plants, including sowing, dividing, grafting and taking cuttings. Search by plant name (Abelia to Zinnia) for detailed instructions on the best propagation methods, and click on the handy techniques fact sheets for general information as well as tips on growing media, watering and lighting. Get sprouting with the help of the Grow 'Em website!

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