End of Season

Thanks to all the great customers who have supported us through some challenging time. I am always especially grateful to repeat customers – folks who took a chance on a prepaid order and then ordered again.

This summer I worked myself to a state of heat exhaustion three times and I am going to have to make some changes. I have decided that I must cut back on the list of species offered and I have decide that I will not offer as many Asters, Goldenrods, late yellow daisies and also drop a few others, species that are easy from seeds and that other growers can supply. Going into the winter, I have a supply (far too many really) of Goldenrods, etc, that I will be selling next season, but I will not be seeding them again. I will continue with a few Goldenrods and Asters that I think are especially valuable in gardens, which right now includes Ohio Goldenrod, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod, and Stout Goldenrod.

I hope that I will be able to make some structural changes to the nursery that makes it easier for me in in hot weather and also gives more space for shade plants. I simply do not have time to do this work if I am looking after too many plants. As well, I hope that if I am less exhausted I will be able to do things like answer your emails in a timely fashion, or, indeed, answer them at all.

Some of the challenging-to-grow plants that I hope to be able to devote more time to:

Disappointing Fringed Gentians, flowering in pots.
  • Bloodroot – easy in the garden but sulks in pots
  • Michigan Lily
  • Fringed Gentian – pictured right
  • Ferns from spores – especially Christmas and Evergreen Wood Fern
  • Diverse evergreen sedges

Fringed Gentian is one of the most beloved wild flowers but it is a beast to offer commercially. It is a short-lived monocarp, that is, it dies after flowering. I can germinate the seeds readily enough, which is a start, and three year old plants will put out one flower and then die. My best plant so far got to be about 8″ tall and had three flowers. This species is likely dependent upon mycorrhizal symbionts to make good growth and I need to spend some time experimenting.

Plants for shade are always in demand for urban gardens and I have never had enough.

To really understand why bringing on more plants for shade is a multi-year project, I need to give give you an idea of the relative growth rates of typical plants for sun and plants for shade. The feature photo above gives you some idea: Hoary Vervain – a typical plant for sunny meadows – on the right and Bunchberry on the left. The Bunchberry seeds are collected in August and iI never seem to get enough. I am collecting from wild patches and a never want to collect more than 10% of the seeds. I am also competing with birds, who, some years, are so hungry they strip the plants before the fruits are even fully ripe. The Hoary Vervain seeds are collected in October and a very few minutes in the garden among my stock plants yields far more seeds than I can use or sell. Both will germinate after one winter. By the end of the first summer the Hoary Vervain have outgrown their pots but the Bunchberry are an inch across or less. In the photo below, the larger green pot on the right has Bunchberry seedlings after their first summer, the small square pot at the front has a two year old Bunchberry, and the round pot in the middle has a Bunchberry that is three or more years old. It is now a good size to be added to the garden. (Doesn’t Bunchberry have a lovely purple colour in the fall?) Bunchberry is hardly the slowest to develop woodland plant. The small black pot on the left has seven Partridgeberry seedlings that are the same age as the Bunchberry seedlings. I am actually surprised they germinated at all after one winter, I expected them to require two periods of cold-moist stratification. Perhaps more seeds will germinate next summer. But, as of today, after a year, I have seven Partridgeberry plants that are each the size of a small bead.

I will not be carrying many shrubs except for a few very choice small ones. I intend to keep Lead Plant and the local genotype Kalm’s St. John’s Wort. I still love and want to offer Glaucous Honeysuckle and Purple Clematis but the more common (and easier to source) Virgin’s Bower Clematis will not be available, except perhaps as seeds. Vines are cumbersome to bring to market and easily broken so I do not bring them to sales. They can be ordered or purchased at the farm.

I will also be making changes to the website this winter. The WordPress format that I chose years ago has become increasingly creaky, and out-of-date with the current WordPress standards. I am going to select a new up-to-date WordPress formant, which may have a very different look. I will make some changes to the way the menus are organized at the same time. My hope that it will be easier for me to keep current, and for you to use, too. (Don’t worry, the URL won’t change, just the look of the site.)

I am back at the farm about the first week of April. Please do not e-mail enquiries about 2023 plant availability until April. (Chances are I will simply lose sight of it if sent before then.) The first Plant Availability List will be posted on the website about the first of May. Our first Ottawa Sale of the year has been, for some years now, the Friends of the Farm Annual Plant Sale, colloquially known as the Mothers’ Day Sale (although it is not always held on Mothers’ Day — some years it is held the Sunday after Mothers’ Day.). The nursery is open for visitors after the Friends of the Farm sale.

This month, as well as putting the plants to bed for the winter, I am collecting seeds. The first round of seeds should be packaged and available about the middle of November and the list will be posted here on the web site.

To receive email notices of new posts, please follow this blog using the Follow button. This is something you have to do for yourself as WordPress, very sensibly, does not give me the authority to make decisions about your email. I do not generally send out notices through any other mailing list other than the one WordPress generates via the Follow button.

By Trish Murphy

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

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