Seeds Available Fall 2022

The new list of Beaux Arbres seeds is posted below. Most species on the list have hotlinks to their Species Profile page, for more information and, usually, pictures.

Packets are $4 each. Minimum mail order: 5 packets, plus $5 for handling and postage. Same as last year. Email your requests to naturalgarden.

Seeds will also be for sale at the Pine Ridge Studio Christmas Sale., December 10 &11. This will be our only in-person retail event this fall.

The six dozen species on the list are fairly easy to germinate, as native plants go. The only one that needs to be in cold-stratification soon is White Turtlehead, which has an unusually long cold requirement. Some seeds are challenging only because they are so tiny: Cardinal Flower, Alumroot, and others.

If you are unfamiliar with cold-moist stratification, it is giving the seeds a period of moist chilling, at about 0 to 3C, Many native plant seeds have anti-germination chemicals in them, probably to prevent the seed from germinating on a warm afternoon in December. The anti-germination chemicals break down slowly at temperatures just above freezing. This cold-moist period can be achieved by burying your seeded pots deep in a snow-bank or by using your refrigerator. Some species germinate much more reliably after experiencing a natural winter, than they do after a faux winter in the fridge. This may be due to repeated freeze-thaw cycles breaking hard seed coats, or seeds responding better to a slow natural progression to warmth, or to snowmelt and spring rains washing away anti-germination chemicals. In truth, for many species, there are no definitive answers and result vary from person to person and from year to year.

Folks with shady gardens will notice that there are almost no forest species on this list. Many native woodland species have complicated germination requirements and the seeds may be intolerant of dry storage. The easiest way to get a whole bunch of, say, Bloodroot from seed is to plant a few nursery-grown plants of Bloodroot in your garden and eventually ants will distribute Bloodroot seeds around your garden.

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 left 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.

Clearance Sale of Goldenrods

I am dropping some goldenrod species from my list – more on this later. This Saturday at Westboro Farmers’ market I will have 2 1/2″ pots of Stiff Goldenrod at a sale price of 6 for $20 (reg. $6 each) and 4 12″ pots of Grey Goldenrod for $6 each (reg. $10). Once supplies of these are gone, that will be it for potted nursery stock for these two species. These are both nice goldenrods in their way, but I cannot grow everything and I am prioritizing some other goldenrods.

Westboro Farmers’ Market, Saturday, September 17th.

Beaux Arbres will be a vendor at the Westboro Farmers’ Market in Ottawa on Saturday, September 17th. This will be our last venture in to Ottawa for the season. We will have a selection of wildflowers at the table — bottle gentians (featured photo), perennial sunflowers, asters, and goldenrods, plus some early spring bloomers such as Early Saxifrage, to plant now for spring bloom. You can also pre-order from the Availability List for pick-up at the market. Please email your orders by Thursday, September 15, 6 pm to naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

The Milkweeds are all rapidly going into dormancy, so they are now off the list, plus I have none left of Blue Lobelia and Cardinal Flower. However, most of the species on the August 31st Availability list are still available. (I have reloaded the list, because there was some technical glitch with it last week.)

The nursery will be open until the end of September and you are welcome to come out to select your plants. There are often oddities and one-offs at the farm that do not make it onto the list.

Farm Sale of Shrubby Cinquefoil

I am going to drop Shrubby Cinquefoil from my stock. I am clearing them out at the low, low price of 6 for $100, farm sale only. These are local genotype wild-type plants, several years old, not as floriferous as the nursery varieties but tough and hardy as granite rocks. I have totally neglected them for at least 2 years and haven’t been able to kill them. So I gave them a bit of fertilizer this summer and actually watered them from time to time and they perked up nicely. I honestly think the fancy-coloured nursery varieties are a more colourful choice for most urban gardens but if you have a cottage or country property which has a spot for some smallish tough summer-flowering native shrubs, these are a good deal.

potentille frutescente
Flowers of Shrubby Cinquefoil.

New Plant Availability List

Beaux Arbres will again be bringing prepaid orders to Ottawa for pick-up at our Britannia area condo on the evening of Tuesday, September 6th, from 5 pm to 7 pm. (Note slightly earlier time slot.) Please order from the most recent Availability List, below.

There are some new species on the list. Because so many asked for it, i am now carrying Meadow Blazing Star, Liatris ligulistylis. I have a lovely little aster for the edge of a pond, Bog Aster (Oclemena nemoralis). When I have had Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) before, they were from road grader rescues. I now have Marsh Marigolds from seed and a few have reached salable size for this fall. I should have a good supply of seed-grown Marsh Marigolds for next spring. Almost everybody loves this bright and very early flower and its adaptable nature makes it a good species for the edge of a pond or a rain garden. Small Wild Columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) are back in stock. The Mix-and-Match flat special for $160 is still in effect, with a few changes in species available, notably the addition of Carolina Lupin.

Please send your selections to me via email: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

For the Britannia pick-up on Tuesday, September 6th, please have your selection to me by Sunday, September 4th. For pick-up at Westboro Market on Saturday, September 17th, please email your selections by Thursday, September 15. I will email you with details about payment, etc.

<object class="wp-block-file__embed" data="https://beauxarbresca.files.wordpress.com/2022/08/plant-availability-august-31-2022-1-1.pdf&quot; type="application/pdf" style="width:100%;height:600px" aria-label="Embed of Plant Availability August 31 2022<br>
Plant Availability August 31 2022


orpin rose

New Plant Availability list for July 26

Beaux Arbres will be bringing pre-paid plant orders to Ottawa (Britannia area) on the evening of Tuesday, July 26th. I have a new Plant Availability List to download. It is very much like the last list with a few species, such as Boreal Jacob’s Ladder, no longer available. The special offer of Mix-and-Match flats is still very much in effect and all the species on its list are still available, although I am getting low in a few off them. Please do continue to order from the list posted on July 15th for the special offer – I will get in touch with you about substitutions only if I have to.

I have decided to include some Rock Garden species in the Mix-and-Match special. Not that I think you should put tiny rock garden flowers in with the Ironweed and Panic Grass, nor do I think that rock gardens are generally planted up in mass — a showcase for tiny gems is more the rule for rock gardens — but in case you are having difficulty reaching the 32 plants for the special, you can include plants from the list below:

Arctic Roseroot (feature photoabove) is back in stock again – it hasn’t been on earlier list this year.

Please email your selections to me by Sunday, July 24th, 6 pm: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

Woven Polyfilm for Greenhouses – a good product

I have just received in the mail some channel lock for fastening greenhouse coverings, from a supplier, Northern Greenhouse, in Manitoba. The package included a little personal note from the proprietor, saying he is experiencing some serious health issues.

Northern Greenhouse was our source for the woven polyfilm currently on our hoop house. We put up the hoop house October, 2017. We put on the covering very badly, in a hurry, and it has still lasted 5 years. The better one puts up a greenhouse film, tightly and with even tension, the less wear and tear on it in the wind. Eventually, sunlight makes any plastic brittle, even UV resistant plastic. Our plastic is still sound except where it has worn out due to flapping and abrasion from the wind.

We are due to replace the film this summer and I will be ordering from Northern Greenhouse again. They are a small business and very pleasant to deal with. I have never made a product endorsement before and I may never do so again, but this woven poly is an excellent Canadian developed product that, given the proprietor’s health issues, may not always be available in the future. If you are looking for a strong covering for a green house or hoop house or even an outdoor dining area or hot tub, do check out:

Northern Greenhouse: www.northerngreenhouse.com

Special Offer: Mixed Flats – Your Choice

Beaux Arbres has a special summer price on mixed flats of 32 2 1/2″ pots — your choice (from the list below) of flowers and grasses — at $160 per flat. That’s $5 per pot. (Regular price: $6 or more.) If you are looking for native plants for a meadow, community pollinator garden, or other largish project, this is a chance to save.

There are 32 pots per flat so you must order in multiples of 32. For each flat, no more than 10 of any one species – we want you to mix and match. And no more than 6 pots of Butterfly Milkweed per flat. (You won’t see Eastern Ontario genotype Butterfly Milkweed offered at this price again!). Except where indicated, these are perennial plants for mostly sunny locations.

While I was potting up other species, my seedling Tall Sunflowers grew too big to keep in 2 1/2″ pots. I had to move them into larger pots but If you are buying one or more mix-and-match flats you can add Tall Sunflowers to your order for $10 each*. (Regular price: $12 each.)

Species for Mixed Flats at Special Price*

*While supplies last.

Send your selections to me at email: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

We will be bringing plant orders into Ottawa again – another evening distribution from our Britannia area condo. (Date yet to be determined – possibly July 26th). Even better, plan a visit to the nursery.

Tall Sunflower at Beaux Arbres

Bringing Plants to Ottawa, Wednesday, July 13th

Beaux Arbres will be bringing plant orders to Ottawa on the evening of Wednesday, July 13th to distribute them from our Britannia area condo’s Visitor Parking Lot. I know some folks were not able to make the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market and others did not want to pick up a large order with Westboro’s potentially congested parking situation. So we are reverting to the parking lot distribution point we used during the pandemic and bringing the plants in mid-week. We will be back at Westboro in September.

I have a new Plant Availability List to download (below). This year’s seedings are maturing so there are lots of species now available in the economical $6 size. Noteworthy are Butterfly Milkweed, at the $6 price, and Downy Wood-mint, which I cannot overwinter in pots and so it is only ever available in the summer. (I have potted up a few Poke, which is another plant that I only ever have available mid to late summer, as it almost never overwinters in pots.)

As I mentioned earlier, this spring I completely sold out of some of the choice woodland plants such as Bunchberry and Twinflower. They will not be available again until next year. However, shade-loving stalwarts, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod and White Snakeroot are back in the $6 size. I have American Spikenard again in gallon pots. (I love Spikenard — the Spikenards behind our barn have benefited from the wet spring and are going to top 7 feet!) I have three new and interesting plants for the Shade Garden: an eastern North American Monkshood, and two delicate Tick-trefoils. Another hard-woking ground cover native for shady spots is Large-leaved Aster. I have a few now with lots more to come soon.

Although one of the common names of the Monkshood is Southern Blue Monkshood, as opposed to the vanishingly rare Northern Blue Monkshood, it’s native range comes up to central New York State and the plants in my garden came easily through last winter’s rather brutal cold temperatures. It is just as toxic as the European monkshoods — so definitely NOT a plant for a daycare garden — but if you are looking for truly deer-resistant species, this one might be for you. The blue flowers in late summer are gorgeous (featured photo above). It gets about a meter tall in my garden and twines in among other plants in a vine-like manner. Moist soil and light or dappled shade are what it wants.

Email me with your selections by Monday, July 11th, 6 pm and I will get back to you with payment details, etc. Email: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

Notes on Plant ID

I had an email this morning from someone whose plant ID app was telling her that plants she had bought from me as Anise-hyssop were Stinging Nettle or possible Catnip. Now, I have never used a plant ID app but, for plants whose most easily distinguishing features are non-visual — familiar scents for Anise-hyssop and Catnip, and irritating stinging sensation for Stinging Nettle — using a purely visual method of IDing seems inadequate. Although I haven’t used an app, I see many posts and comments from people who encounter errors in their app’s IDs.

So, what do I recommend for IDing plants? Honestly, I think the best place to start is good ol’ Peterson’s Field Guide. Yes, it has errors and, yes, it hasn’t been updated since it was first published a zillion years ago, but for the beginner, it is easy to use and it covers many of the basics. When I started growing Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) I realized I would need to be able to tell it apart from Spike Blazing Star (L. spicata). I knew Prairie was taller and a bit later in bloom than Spike, but when one is growing them in pots, that’s not very helpful. I thought I would need to sit down with some pretty heavy-duty dichotomous keys and actually do some botany. But, hey, both are in Peterson’s and Prairie Blazing Star’s field mark was clearly indicated by an arrow on its line drawing. Excellent!

For less common species and more up-to-date botany, I look on-line for resources such as the University of Michigan Herbarium. I found a dichotomous key there when I was puzzling over the differences between Long-leaved Bluets and Canada Bluets. However, even though I knew exactly where on the Bruce Peninsula I had collected the seed of what I thought was Canada Bluets, I am still puzzled, because published authorities do not agree on the ranges for the two. Oh, well, they are both very pretty.

That’s the thing with keys, They are only definitive for the geographic range they are intended for. Still, you can often get good descriptive information when you get down to species using a key. Lets’s take a Goldenrod I have recently started carrying as an example.

Last year, Berit Erikson of the Corner Pollinator Garden, gave me some seedlings of something she called Ontario Goldenrod (Solidago ontarioensis), which is now on my list. Let’s see if Berit and I were right about its name.

I know that Ontario Goldenrod is considered Rare in Ontario, so the first place I am going to look is a booklet called “The Asters, Goldenrods and Fleabanes of Grey and Bruce Counties” published by the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Yes, Ontario Goldenrod is one of the species described in this book. Because I already think I know what my plant is, I am going to skip the dichotomous key and go straight to the description.

The first thing I notice is that this booklet, published some years ago, calls the plant Solidago simplex var. ontarioensis. Is that the correct botanical name for Ontario Goldenrod? A quick check of VASCAN (Database of Vascular Plants of Canada) and I learn that the currently accepted botanical name IS Solidago ontarioenis. Yay, Berit. (Technically, it is Solidago ontarioensis (G.S. Ringius) Semple & Peirson, but let’s not get into that today.) The Flora of North America website says that Solidago simplex, or Sticky Goldenrod, splits into seven varieties. Likewise, the Grey-Bruce booklet says “Solidago simplex splits into a number of varieties with specific geographic distribution.” This underlines the importance of knowing where your seed came from. If I really needed to know exactly what I have got, I would have to quiz Berit more closely than I did on the origin of her seed — maybe down to which county in Ontario.

However, Ontario Goldenrod is considered distinctive enough to now rate as a species, and its distinguishing characteristics are clearly described: “rather sticky stem and flower head bracts”.

Comparing one of my plants of putative Ontario Goldenrod to the description, it agrees: early bloom time, downy stems on flower heads, tapering, slightly arched panicle, leaves narrowly oblanceolate, not sheathing the stem… Check, check, check. Now for the final test: Are the stems and bracts sticky? (Drumroll, please.) And …. I dunno. A bit gummy. Not as sticky as Sticky False Asphodel, certainly. A close reading of the description advises me that the stems are “slightly sticky”. Are these stems slightly sticky? I guess. Sort of. Thus concludes another great adventure in plant identification.

As a check, I went back to the key to Goldenrods and carefully read both choices at each level and got to, er, not Ontario Goldenrod. I go astray at a point where I have to chose “racemes in axils of leaves which are much shorter than the racemes.” Nope. But then, I am not in Grey-Bruce County looking at a wild plant, either.

Flora of North America, which is calling the plant Solidago simplex var. ontarioensis, gives one of the distinguishing characteristics as “peduncle bracteoles 1-3”. This is really getting into the weeds, if I may use that phrase. But, yes, my plant checks out. It has 3 peduncle bracteoles on the lower peduncles and 1 on the upper peduncles. Spellcheck is objecting to the word “bracteoles” and I am getting fed up with the very sight of the silly green thing in front of me.

Oh, dear. We are all trying to make our gardens livelier and more supportive of wildlife, not doing a doctorate on goldenrods or naturalizing a sensitive area on the Bruce. I think I can still call my plants Ontario Goldenrod. The flowers are not yet open, so perhaps the racemes will elongate as they mature. Also, I cannot get a good look at the bracts until the flowers get a bit larger. I will revisit this when the plants are in full flower.

This gives you an idea of the problems and puzzlements of doing plant identification. Sometimes one needs to revisit the plant at more than one season. Getting a key that pertains to your exact area in not always easy, or even possible. A plant growing in a garden out, even slightly, of its native range, has already lost defining information about range and habitat. Also, naturally occurring hybrids between species are relatively common. If a specimen of, say, Aster, or Goldenrod (two of the more troublesome groups) is giving you a hard time, it may be a hybrid. At some point, we can just leave the questions to be chewed over by professional botanists and note that the plant is doing its job of attracting pollinators and providing food for caterpillars in our gardens. For the most part, ecological connections are similar for plants within a genus, so we can leave geographic variants to the experts.

The featured photo above shows specimen of Ontario Goldenrod I was puzzling over. Please note the coffee cup, the single most important tool for investigations of this kind.