Joan is turning 65! Jim, wanting to make the event special, had the wonderful idea of an ecological centrepiece for each table... hence, Pocket Forest pots!

Pocket Forests are mini-ecosystems  – songs, poems, love letters to the land  – which help revitalize the urban landscape. They bring the magic of the natural world right to your doorstep, attracting birds, pollinators, insects and other wildlife, along with a riot of colour, sound and smells. 

And because everyone (even trees!) needs friends, each Pocket Forest pot has three species, three layers (tree, understory, shrub) and a pocket meadow.

Pocket forests support birds, bees and butterflies

painting pocket forest potsEach Pocket Forest pot is uniquely themed, illustrating the many different ways to think about the design of a Pocket Forest. We hand painted each pot to reflect the theme (here are Jim & Joanne handpainting a pot!) Here are the themes we came up:

  • Keystone: Just 14 percent of our native plant species support 90 percent of the caterpillars... the basis of the food web! Keystone species: Basswood (Tilia americana), Speckled Alder (Alnus incana), Wild Plum (Prunus Americana).
  • Wingbeat Woods: Did you know Hummmingbirds rely on trees and shrubs for nectar and insects? Catalpa (Catalpa), Sweet Crabapple (Malus coronaria) , New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus).
  • Buzz Worthy: Bees need trees for pollen and nectar, especially in spring. Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), Kalm's St. John’s Wort (Hypericum kalmianum).
  • For the Birds: Attract birds with trees that have high food value. Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), Wild Raisin (Viburnum nudum), Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa).
  • Living Fence: Rather than a monoculture hedge or a fence that offers no value to wildlife, why not plant “a snaking berm of exuberance that draws you into the symphony of the living world?" Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa).
  • Invasive Replacer: Replace invasive species with little value for birds or pollinators (Norway Maple, Burning Bush, Multiflora Rose) with native keystone species. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), Carolina Rose (Rosa Carolina).
  • Butterfly Banquet: Many butterfly species rely on specific trees as host plants for their larvae. Tulip Tree (Lirodendron tulipifera) hosts the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) hosts the Zebra Swallowtail, Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata) hosts the Giant Swallowtail.
  • Wet Feet: Have a wet spot? Turn your soil into a sponge with trees that are happy with wet feet. Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea).
  • Awesome Autumnal: Love a kaleidoscope of fall reds, oranges and yellows? Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Aronia (Aronia).
  • Rocky Roots: Some trees and shrubs thrive in shallow, rocky soil. White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis), Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Carolina Rose (Rosa Carolina).
  • Small but Mighty: You don't need a large space to make a big impact. Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera).
  • The Originals: Iconic species of the Great Lakes mixed forest. Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Witherrod Viburnum (Viburnum nudum), Wild Plum (Prunus americana).
  • Walking Forest: With climate change, we need to help species from the Carolinian forest migrate. Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata).
  • Food Forest: Enjoy the harvest from nut and fruit trees. Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), Sweet Crabapple (Malus coronia), Pawpaw (Asimina triloba).
  • Green Guardians: Sadly we have trees at risk in Ontario due to habitat loss, insects and disease. Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata).
  • Peaceful Pines: Provide nesting habitat, shelter and food for numerous insects and birds with this iconic tree. Plant 3 to 5 a metre apart for a beautiful evergreen grove. White Pine (Pinus strobus).

For those at the party who choose to adopt and care for a Pocket Forest, here are the planting instructions.

      Pocket meadows offer soft landings

      packaging wild seeds

      Because every Pocket Forest needs a soft landing, we also lovingly hand collected and packaged 100 pocket meadows.

      "Planting native keystone plants helps build complex and functional food webs by forming the essential foundation — native plants and insects — that subsequently provides food for other organisms, directly and indirectly... Safe undisturbed native plantings under keystone trees — Soft Landings — will enable these butterflies, moths, and many other beneficial insects to complete their life cycles."

      Soft Landings Illustration by Elsa CousinsIllustration: Elsa Cousins

      Pocket Meadows are collections of regionally adapted native plants, each containing:

      • a mix of early, mid and late flowering native perennials to ensure nectar & pollen supply throughout the season
      • keystone native perennials (including an Aster & Goldenrod for fall because they look so fabulous together)
      • low growing native ornamental bunch grasses

      Each Pocket Meadow covers around 2 square metres. To plant the Pocket Meadow:

      • sprinkle the seeds on bare soil in December or January (some of the seeds need cold stratification)
      • sprinkle the seeds on a prepared area in the spring (some perennials and the grasses will grow and flower, others will stay dormant until the following spring)
      • winter sow the seeds in a container (we'll be holding a workshop in January)

      Happy 65th birthday Joan!!!