Pics from the Hoop House

We do not have a heated greenhouse. The hoop house gives a little advance on the season and a nice working environment on sunny days, but nights are still pretty cold. We are grateful for small indications of spring. Last year, spring was so dismal through April, even tiny Arctic flowers such as the little yellow Drabas seem impressive to us now.

Draba aizoides (L) and Draba paysonii (R)

I saw this lovely little alpine Jacob’s Ladder from the Rocky Mountains in the Alpine Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden and was happy to acquire some seed from the Ontario Rock Garden Society Seed Exchange. I now have three in our Rock Garden – they seem to have come through the winter – and three in the hoop house. They are not that easy to keep in pots through the summer as they don’t want to be too wet but you mustn’t let them get too dry either. I lost a few last August. They seem sturdier once they are planted into a well-drained site in the rock garden. I am going to build up stock of this little charmer and will probably be able to offer it for sale August of 2021.

Showy Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrima)
Showy Joacob’s ladder in the Alpine Garden, MBG.
Dwarf Canadian Primrose starting to extend flower stalks.
Eastern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

Our Shooting Stars are looking great this year. I’ll post lots more pictures when they are in full glorious bloom. This species goes dormant by August. I hope you won’t forget about them ’cause we may not be able to deliver to Ottawa until some time in the summer.

Good News

Horticultural business are going to be allowed to re-open in Quebec as of April 15th. Whoop! We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to deliver pre-orders to customers in Ontario and to Chelsea and Aylmer.

I had been frantically trying to scale up the web site and create a pre-order pick-up system when the provincial border shut down drew an abrupt halt to all that. Then the inter-regional travel restriction disallowed even folks in Chelsea or Breckenridge from coming to the farm to pick-up an order in our drive-way. So this decision by the Quebec government is welcome news indeed!

We still are not quite open as much of our stock is still emerging but (fingers crossed) you can start planning your orders now. Our plants are looking great this year — early spring flowers are already budding nicely — and I will keep on posting pictures and availability lists. We are looking at the first week in May for our first run into Ontario for your pre-order/pick-ups.

Working on ways to pre-order plants

We are currently working on ways to offer pre-ordering and pick-up services to our customers. We are beta-testing the pre-order page among a few of our customers right now. When we are happy that our instructions are clear and we have incorporated our beta-testers suggestions, we will have our Ordering Plants Page up and accessible. The password protection will disappear. Please be patient. Thanks!

Ordering Plants

We think gardening and nature appreciation are going to be big this year. Perhaps this is the right year to add lots of native plants to your garden. So, until we can help you in person at our ususal venues, we are exploring ways to to help you get nursery-propagated native plants, while respecting guidelines for physical distancing. 
You can pre-order plants for pick up at a west-end Ottawa location . We hope to have our first-of-the-season plant orders available to pick up at a west-end location in the second week of May, by appointment.

It looks like Ottawa Farmers Markets will be happening this summer, with appropriate rules. This is still being worked out, but if we can be at the Westboro Market, we will be there for at least some Saturdays. Stay tuned. We may also do a delivery / pick-up in a driveway in Gatineau, if there is sufficient interest.

You may phone us at the farm (Contact) for help selecting your plants but please be patient. We do not have cell phone service at the farm so I cannot take your calls while I at work in the nursery. If you would like a return phone call, please include some good times to call you back.

Use our species profiles (under the Plants menu) to develop lists of plants suitable to your garden conditions. We also have Slide Shows to quickly view a variety of plants. You can then check our current plant availability and price list (download on the button below).

How to order plants?   

To place an order, download our most current Plant Availability list below (Excel format). Enter the numbers you want in the Quantity column and email your order to naturalgarden@xplornet.ca. (Alternatively, print out the PDF, fill it in with pen or pencil, scan, and attach scanned file to an email.)

  • include contact information
  • would you prefer an afternoon or an evening pick-up time?
  • indicate where you’ll be picking up your plants — at Westboro Market (if available) or our west-end parking lot

We will email you a finalized quote that includes instructions for sending us an e-transfer.

How to pick up plants?  

We will email you to schedule a pick-up appointment. We will have your order ready and clearly labeled at the minimal contact pick-up area.

Notes on Reusing Pots: In usual times, Beaux Arbres re-uses our plastic nursery pots. Until the Covid-19 issue is resolved, please do not return pots to us.

From left to right: 2 1/2″, 4″, 4 1/2″, 4 1/2″ tall.

First signs of Spring

There are signs of green in the hoop house. Prairie Smoke is one of the most cheerful in early spring. The flowering stalks will be visible very soon.

Some of the little Arctic plants I grow for use in troughs look very happy at these temperatures — little Drabas and Saxifrages. Young leaves of Heuchera americana remained evergreen this winter.

Last year, we had such a late spring, everything was so late emerging and I had a lot of losses over winter, I got rather discouraged. This year, the winter has been relatively mild and things look so promising now, and the spring sale are either cancelled or dubious. We are going to be looking for ways to make it easier for our customers to pre-order and pick-up. I hope you are looking forward to working in your gardens and looking for ways to adapt your plant buying habits to the new circumstances.

Seeds through the Mail

With the rescheduled Ottawa Seedy Saturday now cancelled, and diverse Horticultural Society events in question, Canada Post is the most reliable way to get your wildflower seeds. Beaux Arbres has nearly all the species we prepared for Ottawa Seedy Saturday (March 6th) still in stock. We sold out of a couple at a very busy Ottawa Valley Seedy Sunday on March 7th.

Download the species list and then send me a message via the Location and Contact page. You can send us a cheque or we can set up an email transfer. The minimum order is 4 packets (for $15). If you order 8 or more packets, we will add two bonus packets, your choice. (There will be a $5 shipping charge for any order that fits in the small bubble mailer).

Seed list for Seedy Saturday, March, 2020

Update March 17: We have run out of White Turtlehead, Fringed Gentian, Compass Plant, Prairie Smoke, and Nodding Prairie Onion.

To whet your appetite for wildflowers, I have posted the list of seed species Beaux Arbres will be bringing to Seedy Saturday in March. This year we have over 80 species available in seeds. New species include: Lead Plant, Compass Plant, Purple Clematis, White Camas, Dwarf Mountain Fleabane, and Bottle Gentian (featured image).

Print off the list (PDF) to help plan your Seedy Saturday shopping.

Some of the seeds I have in very small quantities, perhaps because that was all I was able to harvest, or sometimes because I think the plant is a bit specialized and will be attractive to only a few gardeners. Tall Coreopsis (Coreopsis triptera) is one such. It is a nice, easy, tall yellow daisy, but the number of gardeners who need a 7 foot plant which runs is limited. However, if you have an expanse of Big Bluestem Grass (Andropogon gerardii) and want to add colour and diversity to your fledgling tall-grass prairie, Tall Coreopsis would be just the thing. If you want a tall yellow daisy which very much stays put, I have seeds, new this year, of Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum), tap-rooted, with elegant leaves.

Another species I have only a couple of seed packs for is Fen Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia glauca). Everybody loves this little charmer when they see it in bloom, but I have to warn you it is both fussy to site and very, very slow from seed – a species only patient and experienced gardeners should attempt from seed.

Fen Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia glauca)

Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens) is a lovely summer-blooming little shrub in the Pea family. It is slow to mature but otherwise not difficult to grow in a dry, sunny spot. Each pod has only one seed, and the hard, tightly-wrapped pods must be removed for the seeds to germinate. I suspect that folks who have had difficulty germinating this species were not using hulled seeds. I go at a small heap of the pods with a heavy marble rolling pin and some elbow grease. Some of the seeds get crushed in the process but I do manage to release many seeds. I have had great germination success with seeds I have prepared this way and now offer for sale. Lead Plant is so slow and tap-rooted, it almost never appears in the nursery trade, which is a shame.

Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens)

Dwarf Mountain Fleabane (Erigeron compositus) is a charming species, easy to geminate and easy to grow. I think anyone with a rock garden might like to have this little mat-forming daisy in quantity. It grows in the Canadian Rockies and also across the north to the Atlantic. It seems to be tolerant of the hot, humid summers of the Ottawa Valley.

vergerette à feuilles segmentées
Dwarf Mountain Fleabane in the Alpine Garden, Montreal Botanical Garden
Dwarf Mountain Fleabane in the Rock Garden at Beaux Arbres.
zigadène glauque
  • White Camas in front of orange Butterfly Milkweed.

A few species want such a long period of cold-moist stratification I have put them in little bags with moist vermiculite and they are already (December) in my fridge: White Turtlehead, Dwarf Arctic Iris, and Beach-head Iris. If you take any of these home from Seedy Saturday in March, you can place them back in the fridge until you are ready to sow them, probably when it starts getting warm about the beginning of May. Alternatively, you can sow them and place their pot outdoors to experience natural winter temperature fluctuations.

Dwarf Arctic Iris with Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue in the Rock Garden at Beaux Arbres.

New Seeds in time for Christmas

Beaux Arbres’ wildflower seeds will be on sale at the $100 and Under Christmas Sale in Carp this weekend — a chance to pick up some little gifts for the gardeners on your list, and an advance look at some special species new for 2020.

For the first time we are have seeds of the lovely native vining Clematis called Purple Clematis (C. occidentalis). This pretty plant with relatively large nodding mauve flowers grows in woods in the Ottawa Valley but it much less well-known than the white-flowered Virgin’s Bower (C. virginiana). Purple Clematis is rather a wispy thing in the wild, and it is in bloom for only a short period in the spring. In your garden, give it a bit more sun, with much less competition than it struggles with in the woods, feature it on an attractive tuteur or trellis, and it wii reward you with an abundance of bloom. You cannot expect Purple Clematis, a wild species, to rebloom throughout the season, the way fancy modern hybrid clematis do, but lovely swirly seed heads will follow the spring blooms.

The seeds of Purple Clematis need a period of warm-moist stratification, to complete their ripening, before they get their cold-moist stratification. If you want grow this species from seed, get seeds now, before Christmas, to allow you the time to condition your seeds for germination next spring.

We are offering seeds of another very special species clematis: Sugar Bowls (Clematis hirsutissima var. scottii) (featured image). This little gem from the American Rocky Mountains, has no claim to be native to eastern Canada, it’s just super cute. Sugar Bowls is a small, non-vining herbaceous clematis with deep blue urn-shaped flowers, perfect for a sunny rock garden. It too needs a period of warm-moist prior to a period of cold-moist to germinate. Sugar Bowls is so slow to mature — mine took five years to get to blooming size — you won’t find it at the local garden centre.

Three very choice species for which we now offer seeds:

  • Canada Milk-vetch (Astragalus canadensis)
  • Clustered Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe triangulata)
  • Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifoliata)

Clustered Poppy Mallow is another slow-to-mature species that you won’t find at the garden centre. It’s bright purple-pink flowers are a delight in the late summer garden but it you want it in your garden, patience is required. Like many of the choicest prairie flowers, it spends its energies in its early years making a deep, very drought-resistant root system. Once the plants are well-established, they bloom and bloom for weeks in mid- to late summer.

Clustered Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe triangulata)

Some new seeds I haven’t yet packaged will be available at Ottawa Seedy Saturday in March. Look out for:

  • White Camas (Anticlea elegans, formerly Zigadenus glauca)
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
White Camas (Anticlea elegans) in front of Butterfly Milkweed.

West Carleton Arts Society’s 5th annual $100 and Under Show and Sale

St. Paul’s United Church, 3760 Carp Rd., Carp, Ontario

Friday December 6: 2:00-8:00 pm
Saturday December 7: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday December 8: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Plant Now for Spring Flowers

In addition to some lovely fall bloomers — Smooth Aster, Tall Sunflower, Obedient Plant, among others –Beaux Arbres will be bringing some spring -bloomers to the Ottawa Westboro Farmers’ Market this Saturday, September 14th. Experienced gardeners know they can get a much better show next spring by planting now, rather than by waiting until next spring to plant.

Wild Columbine, Prairie Smoke, Foxglove Beardtongue are great additions to your flower garden. For the early spring rock garden, add some tiny Common Bluets, Arctic Roseroot, or Early Saxifrage. An especially lovely little plant for rock gardens is the diminutive Dwarf Arctic Iris, a wild iris very much like the Quebec floral emblem Blue Flag Iris, but only about 8″ tall.

Common Bluets or Quaker Ladies
Prairie Smoke in the garden at Beaux Arbres.