-by Bill Moses

There is a small band of people who are working hard to increase the awareness of that special set of plants that do not receive enough attention or respect. I am talking, of course, about our native plants. Our dedicated group of volunteers operates the Inglis Falls Native Tree Nursery. As part of an arboretum we deal with the woody natives (trees, shrubs and vines). To achieve native status in our operation, the plant must be indigenous to Grey or Bruce County.
We rely on the slim publication A Checklist of Vascular Plants for Bruce and Grey Counties as the final arbiter for determining our list of native woody plants. (This checklist is maintained by the Bruce-Grey Plant Committee of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists.) A plant's woody status (other than the obvious – trees) is determined by its inclusion in Shrubs of Ontario (James H. Soper and Margaret L. Heimburger). Our native plant list includes approximately 120 shrubs, 50 trees and 10 vines. Planting at the Inglis Falls Arboretum began in the mid-'60s. Despite the original concept – to plant only indigenous species – exotic plants were included because it was thought that the public might find them more appealing. Once the arboretum expanded (assisted by the purchase of more land), this older section became known as Trees of the World.
In 2000, several enthusiasts formed the Arboretum Alliance to oversee the expansion of the arboretum. A design was prepared by a landscape architectural firm which included a propagation area. The decision was again made to use only the native woody plants of Grey and Bruce Counties.
The propagation area is entirely a volunteer operation coordinated by the Arboretum Alliance which in turn operates under the auspices of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. The basic components of the propagation area are a greenhouse, a shade house and a cold frame for stratification of the seeds that we collect. Rain from a nearby barn roof provides us with our water supply.
Our current activities revolve around collecting seed, processing the seed, planting it and then storing it in our pest-proof cold frame for the winter. As the seedlings develop in the spring we set them out in our shade house.
Plants from the shade house can be planted directly in the arboretum or planted into an outside garden to grow some more. To assist in our goal of popularizing native plantings, we do offer plants to the public by donation and provide plants free to non-profit groups. Members of the public may bring plants for identification. We are at the greenhouse every Saturday morning from early spring to late fall, 237897 Inglis Falls Road. We are also available at other times by appointment. Our ideal client is one who is interested in growing a variety of native plants as a learning experience. We also have a 1 km path at the arboretum along which we are working at establishing labelled examples of each of our local native woody plants. This path alone is well worth a visit!

Bill Moses is the contact person for Inglis Falls Native Plant Nursery volunteer team. Contact him at [email protected] or click on the ad at the right to reach us on Facebook.