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Interview with Cardiff Naturescaping

Updated: Mar 1

Logo with butterfly and flowers
Cardiff Naturescaping

We had the pleasure of talking to Megs, co-founder of Cardiff Naturescaping. She is actively

involved in converting boulevards, parks and other natural areas from invasive species or grass

to pollinator havens!

How did you start your business?

The business started organically, with community members coming to us with questions or

asking for help. The pathway towards it started when my family and I moved into our new home

in 20I7. I discovered that I had a garden full of things ... I had so many flowers but hardly any

pollinators. I started experiencing increasing eco-anxiety and depression in the following years. I

became involved in many local groups related to climate activism. I felt terrible about the state of

the planet and didn’t know where to help. In 2020 when the world slowed down because of the

global pandemic I couldn’t meet in person with the local groups that had become my outlet. I

decided to put my energy into what I could achieve in my own backyard, for the earth, the

pollinators and subsequently for my own mental health. My friend and neighbour Nicole (now

business partner) started doing the same and learning with me. After a few years of doing this,

beginning to grow native plants and meeting others with similar interests, neighbours and other

local gardeners met through social media began approaching us for our help in their yards and

Cardiff Naturescaping was born.

A collage of pollinator plants native to Ontario
Cardiff Naturescaping

After focusing on your garden, did you discover why there were no pollinators?

Yes, I began learning by joining Master Gardeners and the Ontario Native Plants Facebook

groups. I quickly learned that though my garden was FULL of plants, NONE of them were native

and thus weren’t attracting the birds, bees and other pollinators I was looking for. I learned the

importance of planting for food sources and sustainable habitats. I switched my lens from

gardening only for aesthetics, to gardening for habitat restoration. That’s where I found my

passion. I quickly learned that my garden was FULL of invasive species! Goutweed, periwinkle,

daylilies, yellow archangel, norway maple, korean lilac, etc. It was overwhelming at first, but

working on removal in small areas at a time I learned that it is doable, and have learned

effective removal methods for each different invasive plant.

How did you decide to combat the invasive species in your garden?

I was getting no joy out of spending time in my yard, the lack of insects and birds was

depressing. I was anxious and overwhelmed at learning more about the converging climate and

biodiversIty crises. I confided in my friends about it often, and Nicole and I found that working

outside and the progress we were seeing in our spaces was therapeutic. We decided to go on a

self learning journey, unlearning some of the traditional gardening ideas we had and increasing

our knowledge through attending courses like the Young Farmers training program through

EFAO, webinars and books by Dr Doug Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s

Best Hope) and Lorraine Johnson (author of 31 books inclm, joining invasive species networks

and educating ourselves through their online courses. I am also taking a master naturalist

program through Lakehead university and am affiliated with other local groups throughout the

area. Whenever we talk about invasives and the loss of native species, the response is

overwhelmingly positive. People WANT to help. They just don’t always know where to start. I

can see the mindset change to adding native plants and trees to their yards and evolving away

from the idea of a “perfect lawn”. Ten years ago, I’d go into the nursery and buy something that

looked pretty or that advertised that it was a bee and butterfly friendly plant. For example,

buddleia/ butterfly bush is advertised that way but I’ve learned that though butterflies enjoy it’s

nectar, it isn’t a native plant thus it isn’t host plant to any of our butterflies. It is also becoming

invasive in parts of North America. There are much better options for us in Ontario, like

asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), common milkweed, swamp milkweed among other

native host plants.

How are you changing how people garden to include more native species?

I believe that society is making some progress in the lens we view our gardens through. As

individuals and as a business, Nicole and I promote viewing “gardening” as an act of

stewardship and small act of reconciliation to the Indigenous people who’s land we reside on.

We make posts on our Instagram and Facebook pages that share resources on the small steps

individuals can make that add up to big impacts.

We consult with clients at their space to determine their goals. We educate on the benefits of

native plants and determine which ones would be best suited in their individual environment.

Most of the folks who approach us are interested in sustainable gardening and ecological

practices, they come to us for identification and advice or invasive plant removal and what the

best suited native plants would be to replace them with. The friend who I started Cardiff

Naturescaping with happens to also be my neighbour, a former environmental safety engineer.

We met through our children and love of the environment. She has the business skills and

experience, and I have the networking skills and love talking to everyone. She does a lot of the

behind-the-scenes work, and I do most of the consulting. We grow the native plants together,

and do the garden installations together, which is a ton of fun.

Where do you source your plants or seeds for the business?

We propagate plants and sow plants from seed on a fairly small scale, as sustainably as

possible, on our properties in Guelph. We have a small greenhouse and use our yards, plant

compost we make and rainwater. Seeds come primarily from plants in our gardens that were

purchased through local native plant nurseries.

What type of garden concerns can your business help with?

Increasingly, people want to know where to source native plants, which plants will help with

flooding, soil retention, and which plants are resilient to drought and our increasing climate

extremes. Because we are a two-person team, we take on one new installation at a time, from

start to finish. But we can also help folks with advice through consultations and with manual land maintenance. We often assist with invasive plant remediation on a small scale. We use only

manual hand tools and some electric tools when needed.

We look at soil health, especially when converting turfgrass into native groundcover. It varies

case to case but we often use the lasagna method - organic compost and soil over a cardboard

barrier. This method rids the area of turfgrass and non native weeds to kickstart a healthy

ecosystem and increased biodiversity. We are soft landscapers; we don’t do any landscaping

with heavy equipment or heavy tilling which disrupts the health of the soil. No digging with gas

powered machines, and we avoid using imported peat moss or other amendments that release

carbon when harvested. We do use river rocks for rain gardens and when appropriate. It’s

preferable to use what is already in your yard when possible.

We love installing new boulevard gardens! It’s a great spot to plant natives; you can naturalize it

and provide an entire healthy habitat in a largely unused space.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Our Facebook page is the best way to reach us. As well as

Thank you, Megs, for all you do for the environment and for sharing your passion with us.

Interested in joining the growing voices to prevent nurseries from selling invasive plants in

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