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Meet Our Community: Janet Davis, pollinator gardener and freelance writer/photographer

Let’s get to know each other!

Since we’re not able to meet up in person this year, let’s meet online. Every week we’re introducing a member* of our Fling community here and on Instagram, in their own words. We’re excited to see what everyone’s talking about and sharing with their followers!

(*Any garden blogger, vlogger, podcaster, or Instagrammer who follows our Instagram or is a member of our Facebook group. If you’d like to be considered or recommend someone for a Meet Our Community profile, email us.)

Janet Davis

Colour in plant design is a special interest of mine, which is why my blog is called The Paintbox Garden. Sometimes I use my blog as a travel journal, featuring public or private gardens I’ve toured or far-off places that inspire me, including African safaris and visits to geological wonders such as Yellowstone or Oregon’s Painted Hills. Last winter, I even did a series connecting my favourite songs – by Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, James Taylor — with plants, gardens, or my personal history.

I garden in Toronto, at the house we’ve lived in for 38 years, with a front yard devoted completely to pollinator plants. I also have meadows and naturalistic beds at a cottage we built 20 years ago on Lake Muskoka north of Toronto. Orange-flowered butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and light-pink wild beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) — two beautiful, native, prairie perennials — are champion pollinator plants in my meadows, and I never tire of watching them bring insect life into the garden.

I’ve been a freelance garden writer for 33 years, including 8 years writing weekly gardening columns for two of Canada’s biggest newspapers. I’m also a photographer with a stock photo library on SmugMug devoted to plants of all kinds as well as bees, butterflies, and birds. Early in my career, I focused principally on the ‘how-to’ of gardening: how to grow tomatoes, use focal points, make a pond (I even wrote a book on water gardening), deal with drought, etc. But gradually I absorbed enough ecology to realize that gardening shouldn’t just be about aesthetics and what we gardeners need. It should also be about how we can give back to nature by planting in a way that benefits other creatures.

I’ve visited so many gardens it’s difficult to cite a favourite. I’ve spent the most time chronicling Toronto Botanical Garden, our local 4-acre jewel. In fact, the seasonal photo galleries on their website are my own images. But for sheer creativity, I love Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

During this long Covid winter, I’m posting a pollination photo story each day from November 1 to April 1 on Facebook and Instagram under the hashtag #janetsdailypollinator. Check it out!


Thanks for sharing your work and your gardening passions with us, Janet! You can follow Janet on her blog The Paintbox Garden and on Instagram, YouTube, and SmugMug.

Photographs courtesy of Janet Davis.


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