Easiest Volunteer Gig Going

As I sweat through Edmonton’s spring, it’s hard to remember a time when the city was a barren landscape of snow and ice. It seems only days ago…

The frosts are a distant memory except for the seedlings I overwintered for the Edmonton Native Plant Group. These first year plants wouldn’t have made it sitting out, bare to the elements. So I pulled up my socks for the determined folks over at ENPG. Judith Golub brought me over two trays with tiny bits of Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster.

Now here’s the hard part: I put them in my garden and covered them with dirt.
Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster, barely a year old.

Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster, barely a year old.

By September, my veggies had all been harvested and I had just enough room to fit these dainties in my garden. I dug a few inches down, placed the trays, and backfilled the dirt just over the edges and between each pot.


When I prepared my garden for vegetables, I brought the trays up as well.

As I shivered through the winter, these hardy beauties bided their time, snug in their beds. Just before May long weekend, when I was almost brave enough to plant my veggies back in, I dug up the trays. I made sure the plants had water and sun. And we both kinda hung out together.

Then I emailed Judith. I said “that was pretty hard work. What’s the point in all this, anyways?”

“For years, the City of Edmonton allowed ENPG to use a part of the land at their Old Man Creek Nursery for a native plant nursery to raise plants for seed and to grow for those communities and schools wishing to put in native plant beds, as well as for restoration purposes at Nisku and Fort Saskatchewan Prairies. ENPG also sells native plants at various events around the city. Due to the Anthony Henday expansion OMCN has to move to another location, and we have to also move our plants.”

The ENPG sells these seedlings each spring at local sales as well as Arch Greenhouses.

Judith was pretty jazzed over rising sales of their seedlings. “The desire for native plants has increasingly (and encouragingly!) grown over the years, by gardeners realizing the benefits of growing natives, as well as wanting to help preserve our local species. Each year, volunteers grow more and more from seed, but second-year plants are more robust and take to transplanting better, so we need space to allow the potted up seedlings to over-winter.”

And then she asked if I wanted to keep my seedlings. “Over-wintered plants may be used by the ‘foster parents’ in their own gardens, with the understanding that ENPG may wish to collect seed and seedlings from them for our own use, thus giving ENPG a much larger seed and plant bank.”

Judith said

Judith said “Don’t give up on the ones that “didn’t make it” – blue grama grass, for instance, is called a ‘warm weather’ grass as it often doesn’t show up until mid-June!”

I notched off an hour of my Master Naturalist volunteer time, and the ENPG is slowly taking over the city.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Judith meant when she wrote: “having the plants spread around the city ensures that if one particular species should succumb to disease or pests in one location, there will be other surviving populations elsewhere.”

One thought on “Easiest Volunteer Gig Going

  1. Neat. I have put the trays of seedlings or small potted plants bought on sale right up against the north side of my home with a piece of plywood in front, then covered them with leaves and some pink insulation material . When it snows I pile on snow so that they have a thick layer of snow, insulation and leaves over them. Almost 100% survival when spring comes. For people with minimal garden space, e.g. living in a bungalow condo complex as I do, this works well

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