We Recycle Pots

We recycle our nursery plastic. If you have a potting shed full of pots looking for a good re-use, consider bringing some when you visit Beaux Arbres.

We do not use or want: Compostable pots (speckled brown), cell packs or flimsy pots, pots in vivid colours, or rigid round green pots. We use a few round green and vividly coloured pots in seeding but we have enough, thanks. What we really like are:

  • 2 1/2 ” tall square in black
  • 4 1/2″ tall square in black
  • 1 gal and 2 gal nursery cans (mostly they just come in black or sometimes grey)

Why can we recycle pots while most growers do not? Growers of annuals start their plants in heated greenhouses in February or March, which are difficult conditions, and they are quite rightly very afraid of introducing diseases of any sort via inadequately cleaned pots. I like being able to go to the garden centre and select a few colourful annuals already in bloom for my hanging baskets, and possibly you do too. So let’s not be too critical of the growers who enable us to do this. (And let’s shop at local producers.)

At Beaux Arbres, we are growing wild plants, mostly perennial, and we start nothing ahead of its season. The plants we bring to the spring sales were started May or June of the previous year. As seedlings, they would be starting in ordinary soils in nature, and if they don’t have defences, they aren’t going to make it with us. We also grow a large variety of plant in small quantities — diversity gives resilience. We are not growing named cultivars but species, with genetic diversity. We do not attempt to grow orchids or others very fussy plants.

We e do clean, very carefully, our pots for re-use. Its is labour intensive and not economically justifiable. We re-use out of our environmental commitment.

Wild Senna Beats the Heat

This tall yellow wildflower loves the heat and seems to laugh at drought. Five or six feet tall on sturdy stems, Wild Senna (Senna hebecarpa) has typical pinnate Pea Family foliage but the individual flowers are more open than typical in the family. Wild Senna belongs to an early-evolved branch of the Pea family tree. The open flowers are very appealing to large bumble bees. fullsizeoutput_3f0

We have also seen hummingbirds visiting the Wild Senna flowers this year. Our hummers are foraging hard this season because so many of our cardinal flowers, the hummingbird favourite, died in the drought, and the wild Spotted Jewelweed along the seasonal stream is a fraction of its usual self.

Wild Senna does not occur in the wild in the Ottawa Valley — it hails from a little further south and occurs in southern Ontario south of Brantford. A lovely yellow butterfly whose caterpillars rely on Wild Senna — the Cloudless Sulphur — also occurs south of here. Wild Senna is an acceptable host plant for some other butterflies, including the Silver Spotted Skipper, that eat a diversity of native plants in the Pea Family, We have an abundance of Silver Spotted Skippers because we have a lot of their main host plant, Black Locust. I would never recommend planting Black Locust, which is an extremely aggressive suckering tree and thorny as all out. We are trying to beat back our Black Locusts. It is nice to know that if we ever succeed in eradicating the Black Locust (not too likely) we can still provide for the Silver Spotter Skippers with a handsome and well-behaved herbaceous flower, the Wild Senna.

Plant Wild Senna at the back of a sunny border. After the flowers finish. thin black pods remain decorative through the autumn. This plant does not need staking, fertilizing, or dividing. It consorts beautifully with tall ornamental grasses.

 

Miniature Crevice Garden

This hypertufa trough, planted only weeks ago, is doing remarkably well. I used a technique I read about in the North American Rock Garden Society quarterly, and sandwiched  a thick clay mud between vertical slabs. One would think that the little Erigeron pinnatisectus or Feather-leaf Fleabane, perched at the top, would not have had a hope of surviving, but this is a plant of steep slopes and high ledges, and it seems to be thriving. Let’s see how this little garden survives the winter.

Upland White Aster

All the hot weather in July has brought on the bloom of Upland White Aster and very pretty it is, a neat, relatively low-growing aster, with shining white flowers. I thought I had better label my pots of young Upland White Aster, just in case anyone, inspired by the blooming plants in the garden, wanted to buy a few. So, just to be sure of the spelling of ‘ptarmicoides‘, I googled the species. And found out that ‘ptarmicoides‘ is spelled a-l-b-u-m. As in Oligoneuron album.

Yes, Upland White Aster, which long misled us by insisting on actually being a goldenrod, has been renamed from Solidago ptarmicoides to Oligoneuron album. Sigh heavily. It is still a very pretty white aster.

Talinum: a pretty, hardy succulent

The long, blistering-hot dry period we just went through proved the garden value of a pretty, hardy succulent from the American mid-west. Rock Pink (Talinum calycinum) is a member of a genus which includes some summer-rain-intolerant species from the Rockies, collectively called Fame Flowers.

We are growing Rock Pink for the first time this year. It produces lovely vivid purple pink flowers on long wiry stalks, above the succulent green foliage. The flowers do not open until noon, last only one day, but are continuously replaced by new blooms.

Rock Pink’s home range is Texas to Illinois. William Cullina of the New England Wildflower Society, who is usually a pretty reliable authority, says the plant is hardy in Zone 4 if given excellent winter drainage. A south-facing rock garden would be an ideal home for this plant, in the north. We have recently planted several in groups of five and seven or more in our newly expanded rock garden. With the flowers a bit on the wispy side, they seem to call out for planting in groups. We need some vivid colour and we can certainly use a plant which loves heat in our summer garden. It is visited by bees. fullsizeoutput_3e4

Beaux Arbres has this plant for sale in the nursery, if you would like to give it a try. I cannot absolutely guarantee it will be winter-hardy but it is both charming and easy to raise from seed. It might even spread a bit by volunteer seedlings.

Small Summer-flowering Shrubs

Leadplant

Amorpha canescens A very slow-growing, deep-rooted shrub from the Canadian Prairies, with delightful finely dissected pinnate foliage and spikes of purple blooms in July.  It is truly small-scaled, seldom over 18″ high, and thus suitable for rock gardens. Extremely drought-resistant once established. Because of its very slow growth, it is seldom available in the nursery trade.

Beaux Arbres has a few five-year old plants for sale. It is a species we love, and will continue to propagate, but after these older plants sell, it will be five more years before equally large specimens of Leadplant are available again.

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil.

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New Jersey Tea

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Kalm’s St. John’s Wort

Hypericum kalmianum

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Kalm’s St. John’s Wort

A really lovely, small, summer-flowering shrub that I am sure many people would want in their gardens, if only they knew it. With fine-textured foliage, a hardy and adaptable disposition, and conical orange seed pods which continue the show through August, Kalm’s St. John’s Wort hardly needs more appeal, but I can add that it is a real draw for native bumblebees.

Kalm’s St. John’s Wort (Hypericum kalmianum) is named for Pehr Kalm, a disciple of Carl Linnaeus, who botanized along the shores of the Great lakes in the 1740’s. The shrub is almost a Great Lakes endemic – a plant found along the shores of the Great Lakes only — but unlike a strict Great Lakes endemic (Hill’s Thistle, Lake Iris and others), Kalm’s St. John’s Wort is native to in a few other places in the Great Lakes region, including the limestone shores of the Ottawa River. Our seed is as locally sourced as can be, collected from the Ottawa River shoreline in Bristol Township, Quebec.

In the rocky places where it grows in the wild, this shrub is often no more than a foot high. In gardens, it grows to about three feet, as tall as it is wide. It has a preference for calcareous (sweet) soils. Not that it is fussy, but it is not pleased by the acidic soils wanted by azaleas and blueberries. It likes lots of sun.