Plants on the Beaux Arbres website

The Beaux Arbres website has undergone some major additions this past couple of weeks. I have created description pages for many of the species we are propagating. This is a work in progress and will always be a work in progress, as I intend to keep adding new species to my gardening palette, and yours.

I hope that our on-line information on species will be helpful to, for example, folks at sales, who – well-versed in using their phones to find information – might want to see a photo of a plant in bloom or get some other information about one of our plants. Please visit our site and check the listings  from the Plants menu — I would appreciate feedback. Thanks.

Seed List for 2018 Seedy Saturdays

Getting excited about spring? Looking forward to all the wonderful seeds at Seedy Saturday?

Beaux Arbres will be bringing more than 70 species of seeds to two local Seedy Days. To really whet your appetite for wildflower seeds, we have now posted a PDF of our seeds for you to browse in advance. Download Beaux Arbres Seeds

This list reflects what we will be bringing to Ottawa Seedy Saturday on March 3rd. Some of our seed varieties are in very limited supply. We may run out of some varieties quickly.

We also have Gift Certificates available, which can be redeemed for plants at the spring sales in Ottawa or at our nursery. The Rare and Unusual Plant Sale at the Central Experimental Farm is on Mothers’ Day. Just sayin’.

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New seeds for Seedy Saturday, 2018

Beaux Arbres will be bringing native plant seeds to two Ottawa area Seedy Saturdays: the Ottawa Seedy Saturday on Saturday, March 3rd, at the Ron Kolbus Centre in Britannia Park, and the Pembroke (Ottawa Valley) Seedy Sunday, March 4th. These are always great occasions to stock up on your heirloom vegetable seeds and garlic bulbs, as well as a great diversity of flower seeds.

Beaux Arbres will be offering some new species in seed for 2018. One to look out for is Large-flowered Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus).

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Large-flowerd Beardtongue in the garden at Beaux Arbres

The showiest of the eastern North American Penstemons, this two-foot high beauty is native to the American mid-west, where it is considered rare or endangered throughout much of its range.

It has large (for a Penstemon) pink to purple-pink bells and distinctive smooth blue-green leaves. It is often short-lived in gardens, even in its native range, but it is  easy to renew from seeds. Give it full all-day sun and sharp drainage.

Some other new in 2018 at Beaux Arbres: Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue, Smooth Aster, Golden Ragwort, and Downy Skullcap (in limited supply).

Wood Lilies Seeds

We are pleased to again offer, after a few years’ absence, wild-collected Wood Lily seeds These seeds were collected in Bristol Township, Quebec. Wood lilies are unlike our other native lilies in that they are relatively short, grow in rocky places which can be dry in summer, and have up-facing flowers. Wood Lilies are the easiest of the native lilies to germinate but they are slow (4 years) to get up to flowering size and they have to be protected from voles and chipmunks, who love to feast on the bulbs.

Our original seeding of Wood Lilies in the Beaux Arbres rock garden came into bloom last June and they were stunning and certainly worth the wait. Last summer’s wetness seemed to be favourable to seed production in the wild stand from which we had collected those seeds, so we are again able to offer seeds of this exceptional species.

Lilium

Seedy Saturday, Ottawa

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, 10 am to 3 pm

Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre in Britannia Park, 102 Greenview Ave, Ottawa, ON K2B 5Z6

Ottawa Valley Seedy Sunday

Sunday, March 4, 2018  10 am to 3  pm    

Rankin Rec Centre,  20 Rankin Rink Road off Highway 41
Renfrew County, ON

Summer Visits and Visitors, 2017

We started the season with plans to take many breaks from the nursery for day trips to nearby natural areas. Shaw Woods beckoned. I have never been to Mer Bleu, an important wetland south of Ottawa. I want to get back to the Burnt Lands Alvar at different seasons. Instead, we spent much of the summer feverishly getting on with our potting and seeding between the rainstorms, repairing flood damage, or staying inside watching the downpours through the windows.

The one day trip we did manage was a glorious exploration of Purdun Conservation Area, timed to see the renowned display of Showy Lady Slipper Orchids. Purdun has the largest colony of these orchids in Canada and they are easily viewed from an accessible boardwalk. This conservation area is a treasure.

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The summer saw a modest uptick in adult monarchs and monarch caterpillars.  We had seen no monarch caterpillars in the garden for a couple of years. It was so nice to have them back.

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Monarch caterpillars were not the only inhabitants of the swamp milkweed. A very tiny green grey tree frog spent some time among the milkweeds.

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Another grey tree frog (or possibly the same individual) on the patio stones.

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In 2016’s dry summer, our tiny formed pool in the rock garden hosted three green frogs. This past summer, there were so many pools and puddles everywhere, the green frogs made other choices. It was a good summer for spotting leopard frogs among the mosses, though.

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Not too early to be planning for wildlife-enhancing gardens

In January, the gardener’s thoughts turn to seeds: browsing seed catalogues, preparing seed orders, and receiving parcels of seeds in the mail. When we are not obsessing about seed, we are reading nurseries’s lists. It gets us through the winter – dreams and plans  and anticipation that next season will be the best yet.  With a little attention, we can make choices which enhance our gardens’s ability to attract and sustain beautiful wildlife. Let’s look at three ways to increase wildlife benefits: planting for pollinators, butterfly gardens, and planting to feed wild birds.

Pollinator gardens: As the plight of pollinating insects becomes more known, pollinator gardens have become very popular projects with horticultural societies and clubs and private gardeners. The first stage in a pollinator garden usually focusses, for good reasons, on easy native mid- to late summer flowers for sunny sites: Anise-hyssop, Virginia Mountain Mint, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susans, diverse Asters and Goldenrods. These plants have easy-to-access flowers with abundant nectar or pollen, and are able to feed many species of pollinators.

Share your garden with more wildlife and make  your pollinator garden even more interesting by continuing to increase the diversity of native plants. Consider adding some flowers with distinctive flower shapes to provide food sources for specialized pollinators. For example, add Bottle Gentian (for a damp spot), Prairie Smoke, and flowers in the pea family, such as Purple Prairie Clover and Wild Lupin.

Another great way to make a pollinator planting even more useful is to include flowers for very early and very late. Many of the earliest blooms are on shrubs: willows, American fly honeysuckle, serviceberries, among others.  If you can find room for native shrubs (or, ideally, more native shrubs), they offer many wildlife benefits. Even the smallest gardens can find room for some ground-hugging early perennials. The spring ephemerals of deciduous forest make use of early spring sunshine reaching the forest floor. For open sunny places we like Early Saxifrage and Hooked-spur (or Early) Violet to start the season.

The last native flower to bloom in our garden is Silky Aster, which is still blooming at the end of October.

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Butterfly bliss: Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) with Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) in the back. and seeds and leaves of Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa) in the foreground.

Butterfly Gardens: Adult butterflies are among the pollinators we are aiming to provide for with our flower-filled pollinator garden. To truly be a butterfly gardener, however, we need to provide the native plants, often highly specific, upon which the young of butterflies, the caterpillars, live and dine. Caterpillar host plants will draw adult butterflies to our gardens, because mama butterflies are seeking good places to lay eggs.

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American Painted Lady caterpillar on Plantain-leaved Pussytoes.

Caterpillar host plants are a diverse lot and include big canopy trees like Hackberries. At Beaux Arbres, we concentrate on Pussytoes and Pearly Everlasting for American Ladies, Golden Alexanders for Black Swallowtails, Showy Tick-trefoil for Eastern Tailed Blues, Bird’s Foot and Hooked Spur Violets for Great Spangled Fritillaries, Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Milkweed for Monarchs, and Turtlehead for Baltimore Checkerspots. We also offer a number of native grasses, which are hosts for tiny green caterpillars which will become diverse Skippers. New for Spring 2018, we will have some young Hop-trees, for caterpillars of Giant Swallowtails which have been moving north into the Ottawa area in the past decade.

Wild Bird Gardens. Songbirds of all kinds raise their nestlings on a diet of caterpillars and sawfly larvae. Very few of the many thousands of caterpillars needed will be the monarchs and swallowtails you and I are eager to help – most will be caterpillars of moths. Now, moths can be lovely creatures, too, but predation is key to keeping them in balance. You may never see, let alone identify, the many kinds of caterpillars that are feeding the baby sparrows and warblers in your neighbourhood, but it is NATIVE vegetation which is feeding the caterpillars. The more we incorporate natives of all kinds, the more our yards will provide food for nestlings.

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Pokeweed

Planting shrubs and perennials with berries to attract adult birds is also rewarding. There are many lovely herbaceous plants for woods and woodland edges which have berries in early autumn. We especially like the shrub-sized Pokeweed and American Spikenard, and the more moderately proportioned Blue Cohosh, False Solomon’s Seal, and Starry False Solomon’s Seal. Last fall, we had a flock of grey catbirds descend on our ripening Pokeweed fruit. Other fruit disappeared more quietly but disappear it did, as migrating birds fuelled themselves for their journey.

Using native vines on existing fences and trellises is way to bring more bird-attracting native fruit to a backyard: American Bittersweet (NOT the invasive look-alike Oriental Bittersweet), Glaucous Honeysuckle, and Canada Moon Vine are some to consider.

Nannyberry, Grey Dogwood, and Alternate-leaved Dogwood are large shrubs that can be used in the urban landscape as small trees. We love these handsome native shrubs and have made sure to add them to our garden. In our nursery, we concentrate on smaller shrubs. Our favourite mid-sized shrub, for spring flowers and late season fruits and flaming fall foliage, is Purple Chokecherry, a splendid and under-utilized landscaping choice.

Wild roses are in bloom relatively briefly (compared to garden roses) but offer wonderful fall colour and small red hips (fruit) which last into the winter to feed hungry birds. Last fall, I started a shrub and native grasses border featuring grey dogwood, Virginia pasture rose, switch grass, and little bluestem grass. I am hoping that there will be spectacular fall colour and abundant food for wild birds where there used to be a problem too-dry and hard-to-mow bit of lawn. Now my winter garden planning needs to focus on how I can make this shrubby beginning into an even more diverse and bountiful space for me to enjoy and to share with birds and bees. I need to add some early season flowers and maybe some fruiting ground-covers and …

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Autumn leaf colour of Purple Chokeberry.

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Shining Rose (Rosa nitida)

What did well in the garden this year

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) loves sogginess in the spring, so it’s no surprise that this was a great year for the tall, red, hummingbird favourite.

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More surprisingly, Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata) was another species that did well this year, This is a violet for sun and infertile, sandy soil. That is what it gets in our rock garden and it generally does well. The extra moisture in the sandy soil this year seemed to help seedlings of this lovely violet get started.

Boreal Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium boreale), from north of the tree-line, did very well this year. This species had had a hard time with us during the dry summer of 2016. I thought the plants were just going to be short-lived so far south of their native range. This year, they flourished in the cool, moist conditions and flowered all summer.

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What did not do well this year: Purple Prairie Clover and Wild Lupin – both flowers in the Pea family which favour warmth and well-drained conditions.

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Wild Lupins in the Rock Garden in 2016.

2017: A Year in Native Plant Gardening

It was wet. We expect the swale garden and the lawn below it to be wet in April and well into May, from snow melt running down from the hills which surround us. This year it was continuously and unrelentingly wet until late July. The swale was continuously full of water, which would be lovely if that is what we had planned, or if that is what we could count on. Some of our wildflowers, selected to be able to cope with a few weeks of standing water in the spring, drowned when subjected to several months of standing water. Even the rock garden (featured photo), planned as a summer-dry garden, was under water for several hours after some of the heaviest downpours.

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We had hoped to burn part of our tall-grass prairie bank in early spring but it was too continuously rainy. Even without the benefits of a spring burn, the bank was showing a nice amount of colour by the beginning of August, in time for the Pontiac Gardens and Gifts Tour.

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Tall-grass Prairie Bank: Wild Bergamot, Spike Blazing Star, Wingstem, Big Bluestem.

Some of the swale plants flourished:

 

With all the rain, the tall yellow daisies of late summer were HUGE.

My proudest moment was when the seed-grown Wood Lilies in the rock garden flowered for the first time. They were grown from seed collected in Bristol Township.

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New endeavour: hypertufa troughs to show off tiny alvar and arctic gems.

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I have started propagating some fen and alvar species such as this lovely Grass-of-Parnassus. Their seedlings are tiny – it may be a few seasons before i can offer them for sale.

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New in the nursery for 2018: forest floor plants, started from cuttings. I know city gardeners want more native options for shade.

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Wintergreen.

Other new species:

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Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

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Large-flowered Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus).

We added a hoop house, so we can have more plants in bud for the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale in May. This isn’t intended to be an all-season nor a heated green house. We just want to be about 7 – 10 days ahead of the season for Mothers’ Day.

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I potted up well over than two thousand plants during the summer and tucked them all in for the winter, so we are in good shape to bring lots of native diversity to the spring sales.

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