Dropping some species

Brown-eyed Susans and fruit of Gray Dogwood

Anyone who has visited the nursery knows how little bench space I have. To make room for the new species, some less popular species are going to be dropped from the nursery.

Thimbleweed is certainly locally native but it is not that showy. I tried to keep two very similar species going, Thimbleweed and Long-headed Thimbleweed, but neither was very popular. I will still have Thimbleweed available in seed as it is a good choice for naturalizing.

I am dropping both Bluestars (Amsonia spp.), Common and Hubricht’s. Neither is locally native and they are often available in garden centres. I have cooled on Hubricht’s Bluestar – it was trendy for a bit – although I still like Common Bluestar as a garden plant and will keep a couple of plants of it in the garden.

Wild Blue Indigo is also not locally native and usually available in garden centres. It is a BIG perennial and very slow to mature and I just don’t have the patience for it. I am going to continue to stock Lesser Wild Blue Indigo. The original seed for this plant came to me from Gardens North; it is seldom available commercially. About half the size of its larger cousin, it is also quicker to mature – just a nice blue for the flower border with interesting black seed pods.

I am also dropping Prairie Cinquefoil – almost the only ones I have sold in two years were ones I put into garden designs. I am not sure why this plant doesn’t sell. I like it, but it is not very emphatic. It is very easy from seed and I will continue to grow it in my garden and offer it in seed form.

American Ipecac (Gillenia stipulata) is also going to go. I was happy to be able to try it out and see how it differed from Bowman’s Root (G. trifoliata). Bowman’s Root is clearly the prettier plant. If you happen to specifically want some American Ipecac, say for herbal purposes, I still have some plants in the garden I could collect seeds from.

I am giving up on Prairie Cord Grass (Spartina pectinata). I never did figure out a good way to offer this big, coarse grass with amazingly tough spreading roots. It has a certain usefulness in the landscape for erosion control and because it is salt-tolerant, but…

I am also dropping Riverbank Wild Rye (Elymus riparius). It just cannot compete with its much showier relative, Bottlebrush Grass (E. hystrix).

The larger shrubs I have sometimes had available in small quantities were surplus from some I had grown for our own landscaping. I sold most of the surplus this past summer. Beaux Arbres will concentrate on smaller decorative shrubs, such as Kalm’s St. John’s Wort, and a few very special shrubs that are hard to source. I will leave it to other nurseries to carry the more tree-like shrubs.

I have been telling folks that I was not going to continue with Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa). However, my stand of Gray Dogwoods has started to produce volunteers among the adjacent prairie grasses. Not too surprising, since Gray Dogwood is one of the woody species whose spread in prairies may need to be controlled by managed burns. It is also the most drought tolerant of our native dogwoods. All dogwood fruit (pictured above, with Brown-eyed Susans) is very nutritious for birds so I feel Gray Dogwood is useful in our gardens and it is not that available. I may pot up a few of the volunteers.

One plant that will be back in stock next year is Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I had thought that I needn’t carry this species as I believed it to be readily available in garden centres. However, quite a number of customers asked about my Purple Coneflower clump, saying that all they could find in the garden centres were highly modified oddities, that the straight species was hard to come by. Purple Coneflower is NOT native to Canada — the only Echinacea that has any claim to be native to Ontario is Pale Purple Coneflower, based on two tiny populations southwest of London. However, this past summer I watched the Great Spangled Fritillaries fly past the Pale Purple Coneflower to zoom in on the Purple Coneflower. Obviously, Purple Coneflower earns its place in Butterfly Gardens. It is also much more tolerant of partial shade than Pale Purple Coneflower, a plant of open prairies that flops sideways and flowers sparingly in even a little shade.

Purple Coneflower

By Trish Murphy

Artist: botanical, still life, and natural history illustration. Garden designer: native plants and naturalistic gardens

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