Thursday Nights at the Bandstand in Unionville Offers Free Summer Concerts Every Thursday Night

bandsThe fifth year of the free music series “Thursday Nights at the Bandstand” launched this past June at Unionville’s Millennium Bandstand at the corner of Main Street Unionville and Fred Varley Drive.
Organized by community-based Unionville Presents and funded by dedicated community sponsors, the series has attracted talented international and local performers to the outdoor Millennium Bandstand.
These free performances run Thursday evenings throughout June, July and August from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
From blues to jazz to funk to soul to vintage hits and classical guitar, award-winning musicians bring their unique sounds to life on the Millennium stage. Acts that have already graced the stage include the Blackboard Blues Band, the Community Soul Project, Burton Cummings, the Carpet Frogs, multiple Juno award winners Fathead, world music chart-topper and Juno nominee Johannes Linstead, Pretzel Logic, Markham’s popular King of Nothing, and Hotel California.
August starts with Markham’s North of 7 providing a mix of rock and R&B from the 60s and 70s on Aug. 2.
Well-known R&B recording artist Jeanine Mackie and her band perform on Aug. 9.
Markham’s popular The Tonedogs return to the stage with an appealing mix of Texas rock and blues and some vintage favourites on Aug. 16.
On Aug. 23, Fleetwood Mac classics come alive with Rikki Nix.
The 2013 series winds up on Aug. 29 with a return visit by the hugely popular Chicago tribute band Brass Transit.
For a full schedule of upcoming performances visit www.unionvillepresents.com.

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Attracting Bees and Butterflies to your Garden

Butterfly on pink flowerThe loss of millions of bees and butterflies in Ontario has many people concerned about these critical pollinators and the impact it’s having on our environment. Fortunately, we do our part to attract bees and butterflies by creating beautiful habitats in our own backyards. And in exchange for just a little work, you’ll have a more fruitful vegetable garden with a higher yield and better quality.
All animals need food, water and shelter and bees and butterflies are no exceptions. Unlike birds, insects can’t manage the deep water of birdbaths. If you already have a birdbath, just add a few stones so these smaller creatures can also have a drink. A small saucer of water is just as effective. Just make sure it’s kept clean and topped up.
Both bees and butterflies love colour, so indulge in the brightest most colourful plants for your garden. Native species are best and will produce exactly what these insects need. Your local garden centre can advise you on which plants to choose. Purple coneflower is a favourite of both species. Asters, sedums and sunflowers are also popular. Flowering herbs are also a wonderful choice. The added bonus is that these flower varieties will also attract beautiful hummingbirds.
Some butterflies prefer fruit to flowers, so you may wish to offer some overripe melon rinds and other bits of fruit. A plate of fruit in a sunny sheltered location will be very appreciated by these lovely creatures. You may wish to research what species of butterflies are common to your area to tailor your offerings more specifically.
Bee and butterfly “houses” are available at many garden centres and hardware stores. These small habitats will help these animals weather storms and hide from predators.
Of course, the largest killer of bees and butterflies is pesticides and even chemical fertilizers. Forego the chemicals to protect your visitors and use organic garden methods instead – it’s safer for you and your family, including your pets, too.
With these few easy steps, you will soon have a garden buzzing with life and vitality and full of colour.

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Backyard Composting – a Great Way to Save Money and the Planet

Unrecognizable person pouring kitchen waste into compost bin, close-up of handsWith Ontario’s growing trend toward municipal user fees for waste removal, it makes sense to think of ways to offset these costs, while also helping to protect our planet. Backyard composting is a great way to reduce your use of landfills while also making fantastic fertilizer for your garden. And it’s so easy.
Many municipalities offer inexpensive composters or you can pick up composting units in plastic or wood from your local hardware store. If you have the space, you can make your own – even a simple pile will work as long as you follow these simple and easy steps:
1. Locate your composter on loosened soil in an accessible, shady location. Remember that you’ll be adding material even throughout the winter.
2. Add your compost material in layers of greens and browns. Greens are kitchen scraps, such as vegetables, fruit, tea bags, coffee grounds and crushed eggshells, grass clippings and weeds. Browns are leaves, cut-up twigs, sawdust and shredded paper products.
3. Add water. Your compost should be damp, but not wet.
4. Occasionally, add some soil. This will add the microorganisms that will help break down the material and will deter insects.
5. Add air. Every month or so, turn the compost well.
For a backyard composter, avoid adding fish, meat, dairy products, fats or oils. These materials may attract pests. Keep pet waste or any painted wood out of your compost – you don’t want these in your garden.
If pests are a concern, planting mint or other aromatic plants around your composter will discourage critters. However, as long as you keep your compost layered, damp and turned, it should not smell and it won’t attract unwanted attention from wildlife.
In a few short months, your compost will be ready for your garden. Its nutrient-rich qualities will keep your plants healthy and happy and keep those user fees where they belong –  in your pocket.

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