This ecologist was told she could keep her natural garden. Here’s why she’s fighting city hall anyway

An ecologist is challenging Toronto’s long grass and weed bylaw, even though the city exempted her from having to cut down her natural garden — which is home to tall shrubs and trees, as well as butterflies and chipmunks.

Nina-Marie Lister, an ecology and urban planning professor at Ryerson University, says she never asked for an exemption and she rejects it. Instead, she and her lawyer are arguing that the bylaw itself is unconstitutional and outdated, saying it goes against the city’s own pollinator protection and biodiversity strategies.

“[The current bylaw] really stands in the way of individual citizens on a small patch of yard trying to do the right thing at a time of biodiversity collapse and climate crisis,” said Lister, who was also a consultant on the city’s own biodiversity strategy.

The two are now drafting a replacement bylaw to present to the city this fall.

Lister and her family have been tending the garden at her home near Davenport Road and Christie Street for the past five years. It includes a front-yard meadow, a green roof and around 100 different species of plants, shrubs and trees, most of which are native to Ontario.

Nina-Marie Lister’s natural garden is home to about 100 different species of trees, plants and shrubs. (Lorraine Johnson)

“In the work that I do, it would be very odd for me not to have a garden that was full of life, rich in biodiversity and frankly, one that gives us enormous benefit as a community,” Lister said.

Lister, who is also and the director of Ryerson’s Ecological Design Lab, says the garden holds storm water, controls runoff and provides habitat for various birds and at-risk insects like monarch butterflies. It’s also been home to other creatures, including frogs, rabbits and chipmunks.

Plus, she says, it provides education and respite; passersby often stop and sit on logs that have been turned into makeshift seats, kids play in the flowers, and before the pandemic, school groups would come by.

‘The whole thing is ridiculous,’ lawyer says .

Lister says she hopes people get a sense of joy when they walk past the garden, but instead some have complained to the city.  A bylaw officer visited her home in August and said the garden violated the bylaw, which resulted in an order to mow it down.

The long grass and weed bylaw states grass, weeds and vegetation cannot be taller than 20 centimetres. A conviction can include forced mowing, at the landowner’s cost, and a fine of up to $5,000. That doesn’t include growth that’s part of a natural garden or planted to produce ground cover. Exemptions can be granted for natural gardens.

Some of Lister’s plants are between 90 and 120 centimetres. 

About 600 square metres of Nina-Marie Lister’s natural garden can be seen from the street. (John Lesavage/CBC)

Eventually, Lister was granted an exemption, but she says she didn’t apply for one and an inspection was never done to grant it.

Lister told the city

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10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Taking care of a plant is like taking care of a pet; both need food, water, sunshine (walk/stretch in a pet’s case), love and patience. Plants and succulents are a great way to add a touch of nature into your home. Here are some house plants that you can include into your little home nursery.

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Strings of pearl: This plant produces long thread-like stems of green, round, beaded foliage that spills over the side of the pot making a uniquely bohemian and wild display. It is perfect for those forgetful gardeners as it copes admirably with little water.

BUY HERE for Rs. 499/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Neon prayer plant: Also known as the Hardy Maranta plant, this one is perfect to crowd your windowsill with a dash of colour.

BUY HERE for Rs. 300/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Hoya wax plant: Hoya wax white fragrant healthy live plant you can give it as a wonderful special novelty gift can grow both indoor and outdoor also as a table topper room-office fix it near window side

BUY HERE for Rs. 499/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

String of bananas: You can identify this plant by its distinct banana-shaped leaves. As a succulent it is well adapted to live in a dry environment without much water.

BUY HERE for Rs. 500/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Golden pothos: Golden pothos are one most popular of all house plants. They are attractive, durable and easy to grow vines that have smooth, leathery, heart shaped leaves with distinctive marbling alternating along rope-like green stems.

BUY HERE for Rs. 299/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Jade plant: Also called as money tree, this plant is most popular Feng Shui and good luck charm, and is thought to activate financial energies. Feng Shui encourages to keep this plant in front of the office or in the home-office to invite good fortune and prosperity. 

BUY HERE for Rs. 399/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Peace Lily: This plant can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions, and needs only moderate watering. With big curvy leaves and white flowers, this plant can add a nice touch to your home.

BUY HERE for Rs. 549/-

10 indoor plants to infuse natural greens into your home decor

Spider plant: Chorophytum or spider plant is easiest to grow houseplant. With lots of rich foliage and tiny white flowers, the spider plant is one of the top most plant approved by NASA for air purification indoors. It battles pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. This plant is also considered a safe houseplant if you have pets in the house. 

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Natural Oak and Soft Daylight Define This Kitchen Renovation

<div class="caption"> A built-in oak banquette cleverly incorporates extra storage space. </div> <cite class="credit">FRENCH+TYE</cite>

A built-in oak banquette cleverly incorporates extra storage space.

FRENCH+TYE

In the United Kingdom, the term “mullet architecture” describes homes that appear traditional from the front and feature a modern extension in the back. This common occurrence is a result of strict conservation laws that aim to maintain the historical street view while allowing residents to renovate behind the facade. Local architects like George Bradley, director of London-based studio Bradley Van Der Straeten and host of Another Architecture Podcast, are all too familiar with these complicated rules. In order to update a typical Victorian terrace house, he and his team had to navigate an endless list of codes.

The objective was to produce a spacious, light-filled kitchen without raising the low ceiling or exceeding height constraints on the boundary with the neighbor. To accomplish this, George imagined a sloped glass roof to top the side extension. On the interior, a curved edge ramps up to the skylight to maximize volume and northern sun exposure, creating an airy room infused with soothing, soft daylight.

The clients also requested trendless finishes, so a classic, monochromatic wood look was the obvious choice. Custom cabinet fronts with recessed, half-moon-shaped handles were crafted from natural oak. The same species was sourced for the built-in banquette, wall paneling, and engineered floors. With a clear connection to the garden beyond, a serene, organic feel was achieved.

Location: “London is a city made up of a conglomeration of little villages, and Crouch End is one of the nicest ones,” George explains. “It’s further out of the city, but it’s on a hill, so it’s got good air and good views. Generally, the properties are generous there. It’s a nice, family-oriented neighborhood.”

<div class="caption"> The kitchen before lacked light and space. </div>

The kitchen before lacked light and space.

The before: With low ceilings and pale yellow, Shaker-style cabinets, the original kitchen was not intended for living. The tight, rectangular room was once a service quarter, so its layout was inefficient for modern use.

The inspiration: “The clients were very keen that it be quite timeless, quite minimal, but quite classic, as well,” George recalls. “They loved the idea of the natural earthiness of the timber, but they didn’t want something that felt like a fad or sort of funky, so a lot of the design is quite ageless.”

Square footage: 35 square meters (approximately 377 square feet)

Budget: “For a typical extension like this, you would be looking at approximately £3,000 per square meter excluding taxes,” George estimates. That’s about $359 per square foot.

<div class="caption"> A single, massive pivot door opens the kitchen up to the backyard. </div> <cite class="credit">FRENCH+TYE</cite>

A single, massive pivot door opens the kitchen up to the backyard.

FRENCH+TYE

Main ingredients: 

Cabinet Fronts, Wall Cladding, Shelving, and Benches: Custom Natural Oak by joiner Jai Brodie. “We wanted to keep the palette really simple,” says George. “Oak was the main material used for the kitchen. The key thing was we worked with a joiner that we knew, who is a friend of the company and that we’d worked with before. He’s a real craftsman and specialist.”

Flooring: Wood and

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New Houston Botanic Garden a dazzling, natural attraction

Deserts and rainforests and water walls, oh my.

The former Glenbrook Golf Course, a few minutes south of downtown, blossoms anew this month, transformed into the 132-acre Houston Botanic Garden. The city’s newest cultural institution opens with four staggered weekends of family-friendly activities, each featuring the plants, food and culture of a different region of the world to reflect the diversity of Houston and the gardens.

The festivities nod to Latin America Sept. 18-20, Asia Oct. 2-4, Africa Oct. 16-18 and the Mediterranean Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

Upon entering from Park Place Boulevard and crossing a new bridge over Sims Bayou, visitors will encounter a free-admission zone with a picnic grove and a wetlands garden. More dazzling enticements beckon beyond the coral limestone walls and scalloped portico of the modernist Welcome Pavilion, designed by Overland Partners.

In the centerpiece Global Collection Garden, whose zones provide a brief botanical trip around the world, an upland forest grows near a tropical rainforest, a drought-tolerant sanctuary, a semi-arid Mediterranean zone, a desert, a grassy savanna, a ridge of pines and a bamboo forest. Smaller sections of the global collection feature the discoveries of Texas botanists, pollinator plants and plants with colorful leaves. Curiosities of the plant world that have fascinating form and structure will fill one corner. All told, the global collection will contain more than 350 diverse varieties that can withstand Houston’s heat and humidity.

A couple of “curiosity cabinets” — elegant, Zen-like sheds in the spirit of European wunderkammer — around the global collection will hold small treasures visitors can examine up close. Near the savanna, there’s a dramatic water feature called the Dewdrop.

On the other side of the Welcome Pavilion, the Culinary Garden also will have plants grouped by regions and feature a dramatic water wall. Farther afoot are a woodland glade for weddings, a coastal prairie garden, a stormwater-wetlands garden and the Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden. Kids will want to make a beeline for the discovery garden’s boardwalk, wildlife-friendly lagoon and sandy pad of interactive pumps and other water play devices.

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily beginning Sept. 18; $8-$12.50 weekdays, $10-$15 weekends including the grand openings, kids younger than 3 free; memberships $50-$500; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day; 8210 Park Place Blvd.; 713-715-9675,

hbg.org

.

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How to Care for Your Natural Oak Bathroom Furniture

Solid oak furniture can be a great addition to any bathroom. Not only is it stylish and traditional, it can also prove incredibly durable and resistant when looked after properly. That being said, the natural wood has earned itself a reputation for being difficult to maintain – particularly in damp environments.

This concern over its upkeep is unfortunately causing many people to opt for melamine alternatives, which is considered a great shame by those who manufacture natural wood furniture.

Whilst oak admittedly requires more care and attention than other materials, it is far superior in appearance and quality. Plus, it is manufactured in a far more environmentally conscious way, reducing the amount of carbon emissions sent into the atmosphere.

So if you’re thinking of bringing wood into your bathroom – or you’re looking for ways to prolong the life of your existing cabinets – don’t be disheartened by the idea that you’ll have to spend hours treating and caring for it. Looking after natural wood is surprisingly simple.

When you know the right way to care for your oak furniture, you will no doubt reap the benefits of its beautiful structure and shine. All you need to get the best out of your bathroom cabinets are a few tips and tricks to ensure the wood remains in good condition, year after year.

First off, you need to make sure you’re looking after your new cabinet from the moment it arrives. You’ll want to make sure you don’t cut through the box’s packaging when you’re unpacking it, as this could inadvertently damage the wood.

The best way to unpack your cabinet is to remove all the surrounding protection whilst making sure it stays standing on its legs. Make sure you remove all the appropriate handles and shelf supports and put them to one side, so as not to lose them in the packaging.

You will need to clean the wood in order to remove any residue from transport or storage. It’s best to use a damp cloth, avoiding the use of any chemical cleaning products.

Some furniture items will be delivered with a light oil application applied in order to protect it. This also gives it a tough, waterproof finish that will protect it during installation.

Most manufacturers will recommend using an oil treatment every three to six months. This is normally Danish oil or something similar to bring out the grain. Bathroom cabinets are particularly prone to damp, so a water resistant oil is required to prolong the life of the cabinet and keep the natural grains visible.

Danish oil generally dries in 4-6 hours and gives a natural, low sheen finish. It also doesn’t give off much of an odor, which it why it is the most preferable wood treatment for many. Additionally, it does not flake, crack or peel. It is also resistant to even the toughest stains.

Another benefit of using Danish oil on your oak furniture is that, although it is water resistant, it is also …

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Attracting Natural Insect Predators to Control Garden Pests

In the world of animals, there are carnivores (predators) and herbivores. The carnivores are meat eating, and feed on the herbivores. The same happens in the insect world, and we can use this strategy to naturally control pests in our vegetable gardens. Insect predators eat other insects.

What are Beneficial Insect Predators?

Examples of beneficial insect predators that feed on crop pests include ladybugs, lacewing bugs, spiders, wasps, certain mites, damsel bugs and many others. There are ways of attracting these insect predators to our gardens.

One of these is to create an insectary by using a diverse range of predator attracting plants.The garden insectary is a type of “companion planting”. By planting a wide range of plants you can provide alternative food sources (such as nectar and pollen, required by many predators as part of their diet) as well as habitat and shelter. For example, you can control aphids by attracting an aphid-specific predator such as Aphidius by planting lupins or sunflowers. Your insectary only needs to be big enough to hold six to seven varieties of plants that attract insects. Once these plants have matured, your beneficial insects will efficiently take over the insect pest control in your vegetable and fruit garden for you.

Tips for Setting up Your Insectary

  1. Members of the carrot family (wild carrot, dill, coriander, fennel and angelica) are all excellent insectary plants. They all produce tiny flowers which are required by parasitoid wasps. Large nectar-filled flowers can drown these tiny parasitoid wasps.
  2. Grow plants of various heights in your insectary: lace wings lay their eggs in protected, shady areas. Ground beetles like the cover from low growing plants such as mint, thyme or rosemary
  3. Flowers such as daisies and mint-like plants such as peppermint, spearmint etc will attract robber flies, hover flies and predatory wasps.
  4. Plant insectary annuals between your vegetable beds. This will lure beneficial insects as well as adding a touch of decoration to your garden.
  5. Let some of your vegetables grow to flower (carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy etc).

Other Great Insectary Plants

Good insectary plants not already mentioned include the following:

  • Alyssum
  • Amaranthus
  • Convolvulus
  • Cosmos
  • Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)
  • Digitalis
  • Limonium (Statice)
  • Lemon balm
  • Parsley
  • Peonies
  • Verbascum thaspus

A garden insectary should be a permanent component of all gardens. The longer your insectary is in place, the more effective it will be as insects get to know a place that provides food, shelter and above all, a source of nearby food. Results are cumulative. As your plantings mature and resident populations of beneficial insects are established, the need for toxic chemical pesticides will diminish. Your garden will become a more natural and balanced environment for the production of healthy vegetables and flowers.…

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Tips for Making Use of Natural Lighting When Building a House

Natural light is bestowed by nature free of any charge. The more of it that enters your house, the more advantages you'll get from it. Imagine the cost you'll be able to save from your electricity bills. It also give a refreshing glance of your house because it imbibes positive energy. Here are some tips to let natural light help enlighten your house.

  1. Build house to where the sun is oriented. Most builders recommend to have most windows face the south direction. They will get the most sunlight than have it lost. According to experts, north light is more pleasing and free of glare.East and west-faced windows gets more sunlight but they can be difficult to manage and can trap more of the sun's energy and give a hotter feel. If you can't avoid having east and west-faced windows, be sure to have low E-coatings on those windows. Deciduous trees can also help give shade during the summer months, and let more sunlight enter during the winter months because they shed leaves.
  2. Have light control materials in your windows. Curtains and blinds are light control materials that will help natural light enter your house depending on the amount you want. During the first hours of the morning, it is good to get sunlight in because it gives a refreshing energy to move. As the day heightens, the curtains and blinds will help you control the amount of sunlight. They may seem low tech but they can help keep in or keep out the amount of sun's light you just need.
  3. Have daylight harvesting system installed. This is an automated system which through the help of sensors and detectors can control the light inside your house. It combines natural light and artificial light to illuminate the parts of the house. This system detects the natural light intensity and signals the artificial light to give off the right percentage of luminescence to give an atmosphere that will be conducive for movement and productivity.

Natural light is important in a house. Aside from illumination, it gives health benefits particularly to the skin which needs the natural vitamin E that it gives. However, maintaining the amount of natural light that enters the house is still within the control of the owner. Through the tips given above, it is hoped that you somehow grasped the general idea of ​​how to keep natural light inside your house just as you need it.

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Travertine Tiles – Best Option for Natural Home Decor

Are you thinking of giving your home a natural look? Have you thought about an innovative way of decorating or renovating your house? Travertine tiles may be the thing you have been looking for. Go through this article to learn more about these type of tiles and their usage.

Travertine tiles are a form of limestone that sediment around mineral spring deposits. They are usually porous and rough textured, which gives it a more natural look. When sanded and sealed, they become smooth which makes them appropriate for flooring your shower, kitchen, etc. They are available in different colors and finishes.

They are mostly of warmer shades like cream to brighter ones like red. They can be polished or kept naturally rough textured with the saw-cut finish or a tumbled look and more. These tiles are used for flooring and as pavers for ages because of their natural availability. This gives a dominant energy and prestigious feeling to your surroundings.

Travertine tiles draw attention to your floor or wall with its bright swirl design on a neutral colored surface. Their design is earth formed, which gives your home more of a natural effect and uniqueness. These are available in different shades of tan, white hues and gray and they avoid those dramatic colors from overwhelming your floor and surroundings.

Before sealing and polishing travertines, they offer a high friction surface which is capable of avoiding slips and trips. This feature allows their installation along pavers and pools where slipping is often a problem. But if not sealed, they absorb more debris which penetrates the tiles and causes damage. Also, they may be too rough to bare feet without a small amount of sealant.

Once they are sealed and honed, they are too easy to clean and wipe. They are naturally durable to scratches, wear and tear to an extent. Highly polished and honed tiles are more risky to damages and initial cracks and scratches are often considered an added attraction.

Travertine tiles are strong enough to last for a decade without high damages and blemishes. They are long-lasting if maintained regularly with periodic sealing and polishing with the stone sealing agent. If one of them is broken, it can be replaced easily as they are in the tile form. There won't be a need of removing and replacing the entire floor.

Travertine tiles are porous which makes them absorbent to liquids and stains, which makes them difficult to clean at certain times. This can be avoided by using the best penetrating sealant while installing these tiles. Their natural availability does not make them less expensive and their installation also costs more than the average amount.

Installation of these tiles need an extra effort, as they are heavy, and the floor structure should be capable of holding this load. They may feel uncomfortably cold on chilly mornings too. They are mostly used in bathrooms and for wall decors, but their rough texture makes them suitable for outdoors as well.

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