Paul LaPorte - Building Biodiversity With Native Plants

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Living in the GTA’s Greenbelt, our April speaker Paul LaPorte has had the opportunity to steward and study numerous native plant communities. Being past president of The North American Native Plant Society he will bring tempting natives from his nursery, Ephemeral Ark, and tell us why and how to establish a native-plant garden.

PALEOECOLOGY FOR THE HOME GARDENER or Why It’s Good to Grow Native Plants

African violets are probably the species furthest from one’s mind when anticipating this month’s presentation. But it was in fact Paul LaPorte’s mother’s exotic house plants like Saintpaulia that first drew him into the vortex of the plant world. And, oh, how he’s been drawn in!

Initially plants were a welcome respite from his computer monitor. Paul is a graduate of the Sheridan computer animation program and has worked in that field and graphic arts for fifteen years. Although Paul had always been intrigued by plants in general, his first intense focus was on invasives, particularly dog-strangling-vine. Describing its winter form where it had completely colonized an area as a cobweb over the earth (a rightfully terrifying description), this plant “ignited a significant fire” in him.

Invasive species raised the dichotomy of desirable vs. undesirable plants, so Paul’s focus evolved in the direction of natives. In particular, his focus is on woodland native species of Southern Ontario. Through his nursery, Ephemeral Ark, he propagates the many plants that can be found in our untamed forests, from Hepatica to Bloodroot, Trillium to Wild Leek, providing plants that are not easily found in garden centres and can be very tricky to propagate through seeds.

Being an entrepreneur, and rather than abandon his animation career entirely for the nursery, he is slowly developing animations to bring his presentations to life. His study of plants continues to evolve, pulling him back out of the vortex of the plant world to explore paleoecology, the study of the interaction between organisms. Paul considers photos of plants without the insects that/which are such a crucial a part of their survival as somehow incomplete. He hopes this awareness of biodiversity will inspire us to garden with native plants.

Paul is more interested in disseminating what he’s learned than anything else. So come out to hear, see, and be infected with his passion for natives. And with your own passion sufficiently ignited, take home some of the plants Paul will have available for purchase.

Maria Nunes

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