The Propagation of plants from seed, cuttings, layering and grafting and division is the responsibility of the Head Gardener, Propagation with cooperation and assistance from all other gardeners. As part of our goal to conserve biodiversity, plants are propagated in order to replace poor quality plants, secure back up for rare plants, add new plants to the collections or to share plant material with other institutions. The current focus of this area is the conservation of rare cultivars in the Syringa (lilac) collection and plants in the Synoptic Shrub Collection.
In order to provide a colourful display in peak season, the propagation team grows over 100,000 annual plants for the Rock Garden, Laking Garden, Hendrie Park and RBG Centre. Growing our own plants allows the gardeners to showcase, trial and evaluate new introductions as well as stalwarts in horticulture that are not currently available in the trade. RBG also forces thousands of spring flowering bulbs for late winter display in the Bulb Room and elsewhere in RBG Centre.
Royal Botanical Garden’s has been a leader in Pest Management since the 1980’s when it first adopted an integrated pest management approach for the control of pests and diseases. Now formally termed IPM, this management approach is used widely in the industry and has become critically important in Ontario with the introduction of the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban in 2009.
The first rule of the IPM approach is monitoring plants on a regular basis and growing good, healthy plants. Biological control of pests is a keystone, and we rely on ‘good bugs’ to control ‘bad’ bugs. Anoles and geckos are used in our Mediterranean greenhouse to augment the work of the other biological controls.
The Synchronous Phenological Indicator Garden was developed to include indicator plants to help determine the best time to deal with insect pests and further supports our IPM program
Although prevention is the first objective, we rely on natural sprays such as dormant oil, soap and sulfur to control pests and diseases in our historic collections were prevention is not possible. Royal Botanical Gardens is proud to be in complete compliance with the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban, however the restrictions of the ban mean that some areas will show weed growth and pest and disease damage. As we move in to the future all gardeners and visitors will have to adjust expectations and accept a slightly blurred vision of perfection.