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.

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.

Great Plants for Shade

I love Spikenard (Aralia racemosa), a big shrub sized perennial. The flowers are not much, small and greenish white, but the bold leaves and dark purple stems are handsome enough throughout the summer. It is in the autumn that the plant shines. The little white flowers develop into red berries that turn black when fully ripe. The little fruits grow in large showy clusters.

We grow this shade-loving forest plant on the north side of our barn, where we need something large to be in scale with the wall but where any woody shrub would get crushed in the winter by snow and ice crashing off the barn roof. The herbaceous perennial Spikenard is safely underground for the winter.

Spikenard fruit is appreciated by birds. Spikenard is fast-growing for a shade plant, and it will bear fruit in its third year from seed. If you have a shady spot and want to provide for birds, a planting of Spikenard will reward you and the birds sooner than most shade-tolerant shrubs.

Very few wildflowers for shade have large showy flowers. Producing big flowers is just not in the energy budget for a plant that survives on the scraps of sunlight that the canopy trees miss. What they lack in size, forest wildflowers make up in charm. The bright pink flowers of Panicled Tick-trefoil (Desmodium paniculatum) are a fraction of the size of those of its meadow-growing relative, Showy Tick-trefoil (D. canadense). They are, however, held upright in dainty, airy sprays, which maximizes their effect. Both of these wildflowers from the Pea family are attractive to native bees. Both also have sticky seeds, the tick-trefoils, so its is wise to site the plants carefully, away from paths where the family pooch walks.

New to me this season is American Ipecac (Gillenia stipulata). This plant of oak savannahs and rocky glades does not occur in the wild in Canada; native to Michigan and New York State down to Texas, it is adapted to drier conditions than its close relative Bowman’s Root (G. trifoliata). It has more finely divided leaves and very similar starry white flowers. Not for deep shade, but it will likely prove to be a useful addition to the roster of plants for dry, dappled or part-day shade.

Plants To Buy In August

It is not only possible to add perennials to your garden in August, some great native plants are going to be available as potted plants only in late summer.

Case in point: Poke or American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). This tall purple-stemmed perennial is a warm-season plant that doesn’t get going until the soil warms. It is impossible to start it from seed and have it up to any size for sale in the spring. With an enormous fleshy root, it also hates overwintering in a pot. Now, Poke is not difficult from seed and it grows quickly. Because it is at the very northern edge of its range here, Poke may be fussy to site. It needs a relatively warm, well-drained site to survive the winter. You may need several tries to get it in a favourable site. So, it makes sense to get a packet of seeds from us at Seedy Saturday and raise your own, to have some spares to experiment with – if you are handy at raising perennials from seed. If you are not experienced with perennial seeds and you would like to acquire a Poke plant growing in a pot, August is your best, or, indeed, only time to do so.

Get your Poke plant into the ground while the soil is still warm. Once you have a well-grown specimen, birds will eat the fruits and spread the seeds about and you will see volunteers from time to time. This is a good thing because you may well lose your original Poke in a harsh winter. In the mid-Atlantic states, Poke is a prodigious seeder and it is considered a weed. This far north, the volunteers are nothing to be feared.

Wild Lupin (Lupinus perennis) is another native plant that is really best raised from seed, direct sown where you want it. Wild Lupins are deeply tap-rooted and I find I cannot hold them in pots for very long. If the plants do not get into the ground at a fairly young age, they wither and die. This species only thrives in very well-drained, sandy soil; it will not succeed in tight clays. I will be bringing some young Wild Lupins in pots to the Westboro Market this coming Saturday (August 10). They can be transferred to the garden with care – note the extraordinary length of the taproot as you remove the still small plants.

lupin vivace
Wild Lupin growing in the wild.

Returning to Westboro Farmers’ Market

Beaux Arbres will be back at Westboro Farmers’ Market on Saturday, August 10th, bringing some spectacular late-summer wildflowers.

Folks sometimes ask: Is it too late to add plants? If you can bring water to your new plants with a hose (or even a bucket from the lake, at the cottage), you can continue to plant potted nursery stock throughout the summer and early fall. The heat-loving prairie plants are in active growth right now and they are better able to make new roots than if you wait until the soil cools in the fall.

Native wildflowers are the key to having a garden than does not fade in the hot weather. All those lovely Bellflowers and Wallflowers and Paeonies of an English-style cottage garden are gorgeous in the spring, but gardens based on these non-natives struggle in the heat of summer in our continental climate.

For spectacular flower displays that thrive in heat, look to the deep-rooted flowers of the prairies: Blazing Stars, Ironweed, Culver’s Root, Prairie Mallow, Rattlesnake Master, Wild Bergamot, Showy Tick-trefoil, Cardinal Flower, and a huge diversity of tall yellow daisies. These natives also provide for native pollinators: bumblebees and other wild bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Later, many will also provide nutritious seeds for seed-eating birds like the vivid yellow and black Goldfinches.

Create a garden that is full of life and easy to care for by putting native plants at the centre of your garden planting.

Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
Culver’ Root and Cardinal Flower
Tall Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus) at Beaux Arbres