Dunnville Horticulture Society

Get growing: The robber fly – a beneficial insect for your garden

As much as I like working the soil and watching our garden grow, I’m not entirely fond of the insects I run into. However, it’s important to know which insects I should toss to Rosie, our chicken and garden ‘helper’, and which ones should be allowed to run free. A few weeks ago, I was standing among our tomatoes and spotted a nasty looking bug. My first instinct was to squash it, but then I thought I should see what bug it was. So I pull out my phone, went to the Seek app, and snapped a photo … Efferia aestuans, also known as a robber fly.

Now this is not a pretty bug and I’m glad I looked it up because I would have thought it to be a bad garden bug, but it turns out to be a beneficial bug. Robber flies should be a welcome sight in your garden, but their bee-like appearance and aggressive nature can leave gardeners wondering, “Are robber flies dangerous?”

Robber flies are distant relatives of the common housefly and their appearance can be somewhat frightening as they are a big, hairy, humped flying insect. Robber fly insects are a mixed blessing to gardeners; if they’re seriously perturbed, they can inflict a painful bite and they do prey on beneficial insects too. But most gardeners tolerate this visitor, even if they do munch a few butterflies or bees, as the extensive pest control they will provide in your garden and landscape far outweighs the damage they do to a few other individual beneficial insects. They help rid the garden of harmful pests like grasshoppers, other flies, wasps, leafhoppers, white grubs, and pupating beetles.

So, when you spot one in your garden just be kind and don’t upset it.

Read more about robber flies at Gardening Know How online at gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/beneficial/robber-fly-information.htm.

Dunnville Horticultural Society hosting annual plant sale

Are you looking to add a bit more green to your garden?

The Dunnville Horticultural Society is holding its annual plant sale this Saturday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to noon, at 210 Main St., in the bridge parking lot.

This is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.

The evening prior, the group will be accepting donations for the sale from 5 to 7 p.m. Donations needed are plants, garden tools, garden art, pots and seeds.

For more information about the club and its upcoming meetings, visit http://www.dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org/.

Dunnville Horticultural Society: Volcano phlox bring an explosion of colour to the garden

As with most plants, there are always new varieties coming down the pike; volcano phlox is one such plant.

It is a strong, shorter, denser and floriferous example that is exceptionally mildew resistant, although not entirely impervious. For this reason, you should plant them 12 to 16 inches apart to boost air circulation.

Best of all, volcano phlox is very fragrant.

In addition, if you cut back old stems by one-quarter of the growth, they will bloom again.

This plant comes in a variety of colours, even bicolours, and they bloom from early summer to fall.

It is best grown in full sun and fertile, well-worked soil. It will tolerate moderately dry soil. You should water this plant at the base and not from overhead to prevent the risk of mildew.

Phlox are great for filling in large areas or just for adding pops of colour. They are great for cottage-style gardens, native plantings and meadows; phlox are also popular with butterflies and birds.

Some varieties can provide form, colour and fragrance to mixed planters for summer arrangements. Give yourself a gift and get some for the serenity of flowers and nature.

The Dunnville Horticultural Society has resumed meeting on the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall.

For more information, check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or our Facebook page under Dunnville Horticultural Society. Club president Deb Zynomirski can be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

Marlene Link is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.

Program Night Minutes: April 2022


PROGRAM NIGHT: APRIL 21, 2022 Minutes



6:30pm.    Doors Open. Memberships available for 2022.


7:00pm.    Everyone is welcomed by Deb Zynomirski, DHS President

                 Treasurer’s Report is Posted on the back wall. Questions can 

                 be directed to our new Treasurer Ellen Guenther.


7:05pm.    Business at Hand presented by Petra Kruis Daly, Secretary

  • Email list has been based on information from as far back as 2019. If your information has changed, please let us know so that going forward we will have correct info. The phone/email list will be taken from the 2022 membership list from June 2022 on.
  • 2022 DHS memberships on sale tonight at break, see Ellen and Sharon for your membership.
  •  DHS Early Bird draw will take place tonight, prizes will be drawn for those who have already purchased their memberships. Draw prizes are ‘Pollinator Houses’
  •  Thank you to Marlene Link for her continued articles in the Sachem, and also to Susan and Brad Emery for their Get Growing column in the Haldimand Press
  •   Ways and Means Table has returned! Get your tickets before the Program begins tonight, or at the break. Betty B and Gwen V will be happy to sell you tickets. Money earned goes right back into our club to pay for hall rental, speakers, food and more.
  • Start thinking ahead to spring.  We will need volunteers to assist with cleaning up gardens, and with weeding and maintenance.  If you can help out with this, please see Nelly E and sign up on the sheets at the entrance of the room.
  • DHS Bursary for graduating student of DSS that is going to post secondary school in agriculture or horticulture. The Bursary winner must volunteer 10 hours to DHS.
  • Downtown Dunnville Tree Planting Plan by Haldimand County will be happening this spring. Look for a variety of new trees in the downtown core soon.
  • District 9 AGM taking place April 23 via Zoom, 9:30am-1:00pm (see Deb Z for details)
  • 2022 Year of the Garden “A Splash of Red”. Special Activities include:
    • Red feature garden by bridge (Lighthouse garden)
    • Consider planting red annuals this year
    • Haldimand County photo contest later this year.
    • Sign Up Sheets available:
      • Weeding/Clean Up of Gardens
      • Planters for Planting Days!
      • Plant Sale
    • Dates to Remember:
      • May 7 DHS Plant Sale (see Petra)
      • May 24/25/26 DHS Annual Planting Days
      • May 19 next Program Night

7:20m.    Break for Refreshments


7:35 pm.   Presentation by Deb Zynomirski:  Pollination 101.

         Deb presented an entertaining and educational talk on the ‘Birds and Bees’ of how plants pollinate. She used lots of great visuals to get her interesting points across.


8:15pm.    Wrap Up and Closing Remarks

  • Draws for Early Bird membership: Jan Loots, Marline Link, Anne Wilde
  • Special Door prize donated by Don Davies. (2 Peace lilies, one Bromillia ) Margaret Meyer-Smith, Steve Elgersma, Bruce Burton.
  •  Ways and Means draws (Betty Ballenger and Gwen Van Natter)
  •  Meeting Adjourns



46 Members/Guests present this evening

$53.00 taken in by Ways and Means

$ 27.00 taken in by Kitchen Donation

$ 90.00 in memberships: ___3 single, __4 couple

Thanks to all our Board Members and volunteers who made tonight’s evening possible!  Together we all work together to make our Society a success!

Dunnville Horticultural Society: Let the kids get dirty

Kids love to get dirty, so why not introduce them to gardening, no matter what age? Just enjoying some quality time together will benefit both kids and adults. There are many benefits to learning from the garden, and the big one is getting outside and away from screen time. If you are not an outside person, there are numerous indoor plants that you can explore, too.

Engaging all of your child’s senses like feeling, smelling, tasting and observing, is a great way to explore the garden. Gardening can also teach responsibility; giving your child the task of watering will show them that if they neglect their job, the plants will wither and die.

Gardening helps children develop their motor skills by using gardening tools, bending and balancing to avoid walking on plants.

Gardening also teaches patience, whereby children must wait for the seeds to start growing. Lots of herbs or sunflowers are easy to grow and show children that good things are worth the wait.

Gardening teaches children where their food comes from and it encourages them to eat healthy foods. Start kids off with easy-to-grow plants like herbs, or flowers like sunflowers and marigolds. Vegetables such as carrots, beans and pumpkins are also great options. Kids love to explore, feeling unique textures like fuzzy, rubbery, prickly and smooth as they feel the plants, making it a fun time. Grow some plants that you would use when making a pizza, like onions, peppers or cherry tomatoes.

You can start with a raised bed or simply use containers for a small garden. Gardening tools come in child-friendly sizes, too. Now is a great time to start growing seeds indoors with your children. When the weather gets warm enough, it will be an exciting project to transplant their seedlings to the garden outdoors.

So, when the weather permits, let’s get dirty!


The Dunnville Horticultural Society normally meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. With many provincial COVID-19 mandates coming to an end on March 1, we are hoping to resume in-person meetings in March. For more information, check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or our Facebook page. Dunnville Horticultural Society president Deb Zynomirski can be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

Letter to the editor—Invasive Phragmites threatens municipal budgets in 2022

To the Editors,

Municipal budgets can expect to take a hit in 2022 from an unexpected direction. The cost to control the rapidly expanding and fast growing tall invasive species called Phragmites can be expected to add red ink to many municipal budgets.

As Phragmites (Phrag) spreads rapidly along rural roadsides, it has become a significant safety hazard at intersections by obstructing driver sightlines. The dense roots impact municipal infrastructure by clogging drains, ditches, and culverts, causing road flooding and related damage.

Already there are over 1,000 kilometres of roadside with Phrag in Ontario. The current cost to treat and eradicate a single kilometre of roadside infested with “Phrag” is estimated at $6,000. When municipalities work closely with local partners and budget proactively for Phrag control they can limit the spread, protect biodiversity, and manage their liability.  

Phrag also impacts recreational opportunities such as swimming, boating, fishing, birdwatching, and hunting, which is costing local economies an estimated $42.7M annually. Waterfront landowners take a double hit; in addition to recreation impacts, a recent study indicates these property values have been reduced by $357M due to Phrag encroachment.

In partnership with the local municipality and other organizations, the Dunnville Horticultural Society has been actively reducing Phragmites. To be Phrag-free and eliminate this economic and environmental burden, it’s time for a substantial investment by government in Phrag control that supports municipalities and their partners’ efforts.  


Deb Zynomirski, 

President, Dunnville Horticultural Society

Ontario Phragmites Working Group

Ontario Invasive Plant Council

Dunnville Horticultural Society: Indoor plants can be beneficial to your health

My columns are usually about outdoor plants, but many of us enjoy having houseplants — especially during the cold winter months, and they can be beneficial to your health.

Sansevieria plant is also known as snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue plant.

The sansevieria plant releases oxygen especially well and can improve indoor air quality by removing 87 per cent of airborne toxins in a small or medium area at night. It also reduces the level of nitrate ions. Sansevieria can help people with breathing problems from airborne allergies.

Overwatering is the main reason sansevieria plants die. They prefer to be root-bound in small pots and allowed to dry out between watering.

Fertilize only when they are actively growing. They will grow in any light settings, but will grow faster in more light and may even flower every few years.

They seem to have few pest issues.

One drawback of sansevieria plants is they are poisonous to pets, children and even adults, so be aware of this when selecting plants for your home and deciding where you will place them.

The Dunnville Horticultural Society normally meets the third Thursday of the month at the Optimist Hall. However, due to the current provincial COVID-19 restrictions, please note that our January program has been cancelled.

For more information, check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org or our Facebook page under Dunnville Horticultural Society. Club president, Deb Zynomirski can be reached by email at debzyn@gmail.com or by phone at 416-566-9337.

Keep thinking green thoughts!

Marlene Link is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.

Search for hidden gems in Haldimand

Marlene Link encourages gardeners to seek out new sources of plants this year

A few years ago, I discovered an amazing place on Highway 3 near Simcoe. Having driven by several times, my curiosity finally got the best of me when I saw the “plant sale” sign, so I stopped in.

My stop was rewarded with a wonderful tour of a garden trials location. There were rows upon rows of beautiful, robust plants overflowing their containers. Most annuals and some perennials grown here are tested for their durability and performance in our southern Ontario summer.

This particular plant trials location started with 300 plants the first year and expanded to 3,000 in 2020. They supply several large big box stores.

When was the last time you searched out a new local garden centre?

Haldimand, Norfolk, Hamilton and even Niagara have many diverse plant suppliers to quench our thirst for something new in our gardens.

You will often be able to find unique and native plants that may have your neighbours green with envy. Watch for the signs, ask fellow gardeners about their “secret” places, and scour the internet for out-of-the-ordinary suppliers.

Make 2021 your year to explore new garden options. You may just stumble onto a gold mine of exciting new plants. As the saying goes, “seek and ye shall find.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Dunnville Horticultural Society has suspended member meetings.

If you have questions or comments, please contact our president Deb Zynomirski at debzyn@gmail.com, or check out our website at www.dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org.

Remembering Lester C. Fretz

By Co-publisher Jillian Zynomirski

On December 23, 2020, former Press columnist Lester C. Fretz passed away in his 89th year. Lester, a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society, wrote for The Press’ ‘Get Growing, tips from a local gardener’ column from 2017 to 2020. In October 2020, he passed the torch to new Get Growing columnists Brad and Susan Emery.

“I’m indebted to you folk at Haldimand Press for introducing me to the enjoyable opportunity of writing for you,” Lester wrote to us in October 2020. “I’m pleased to see the Emerys carry on with the column for which I give you the credit for creating.”

Lester inspired readers with his many gardening ideas and thoughtful tips.

Lester’s final column for The Press was on seeds and their sense of direction. We can’t help but think that Lester has planted many seeds in his lifetime, developing strong roots, which will live on in his memory.

Lester was so encouraging and never missed an opportunity to let us know what a great job we were doing at The Press. He was one of the most kind-hearted people, and we will never forget him.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.


It’s my turn now to be planted

Put out to seed again

While the fruits of my earthly labours

Flourish in the sun and rain


It’s a wonderful day to be planted

In rich, deep loamy soil

A natural bed, for a tired gardener’s head

With green fingered hands of toil


Please plant a tree or bush for me

To celebrate a gardener’s life ways

I strove to enrich the world with beauty

Over many, many gardening days

Not your granny’s peonies

Marlene Link has tips to help your peonies thrive
There are a wide variety of peonies to enjoy in the garden. - Torstar file photo

Peonies are better than ever, with more varieties to choose from than the ones your grandmother had in her garden.

Peonies have been grown for over 4,000 years. The most common herbaceous ones will bloom for seven to 10 days and die back in winter.

The woody tree peonies from China have been around for over 2,000 years and were grown as a medicinal plant. They need protection from hot afternoon sun but are hardy and don’t need cutting back.

Itoh intersectional peonies are a cross between an herbaceous and a tree peony, and they also die back in the winter. They flower for three to four weeks and are more tolerant of heat and humidity.

While most of today’s peonies are fairly easy to grow, sometimes they might not perform and bloom as expected. What are some of the reasons why your peonies are not blooming?

• They may be planted too deep

• They may have insufficient sunlight

• They have been moved too often or divided too much

• They are cut back too early in the growing season

• You are killing them with kindness. Peonies thrive on scant fertilizer.

If you plan to divide your peonies, the fall is the best time to do so. Keep in mind, it can take a year or two for your peonies to flower again.

If you love gardening, or are interested in developing your green thumb, the Dunnville Horticultural Society is always welcoming new members. Check out our website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org, our Facebook page or contact president Deb Zynomirski at debzyn@gmail.com or 416-566-9337.

Marlene Link is a member of the Dunnville Horticultural Society.