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.

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.

Lilium

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

Hypertufa

Early Saxifrage, Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue and other small Penstemons in a newly planted hypertufa trough.

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.

Parnassus

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

Gaultheria

Wintergreen.

Other new species:

Liatris aspera

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

Penstemon grandiflorus

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.

nursery pots

Seeds and Gift Certificates

Looking for gift ideas for the gardeners on your list? Beaux Arbres will be bringing hand-made baskets and packets of wildflower seed to the West Carlton Arts Society $100 and Under Christmas Sale on December 1, 2, and 3. Okay, this is a small sale of mostly fine art, but it is right beside the large and popular Carp Christmas Market (in the Carp Fair Grounds, December 1 & 2). If you are planning your holiday shopping, looking for quality local crafts and foods, come to both events. This will be last fair at which Beaux Arbres will be a vendor this season.

I have packaged up a good selection of our wildflower and native grass seeds and we will have the 2017 version of our popular Wildflower Meadow Starter Kit available. Our 2016 version sold out last Christmas. I guess others shared our opinion that this is just the thing for a stocking stuffer: 5 seed packets and instructions. All the species are genuinely native to the Ottawa Valley with locally-sourced Little Bluestem Grass as the backbone of your meadow.

New this season: Beaux Arbres Gift Certificates. There is nothing a dedicated gardener wants more than actual garden plants. Our gift certificates are redeemable for plants, seeds, or our garden consultation services, at the farm or at the spring sales in Ottawa (Rare and Unusual in May, and Fletcher Wildlife Garden in June).

Michael’s rustic hand-made baskets feature local materials such as grapevine, red osier, and found wood. They make great gifts. Hint: Fill one with wildflower seed packets!

$100 and Under Christmas Arts/Crafts Sale

St. Paul’s United Church
3760 Carp Road, Carp

  • Friday, December 1st, 2 – 8 pm
  • Saturday, December, 2nd, 9 am – 3 pm
  • Sunday, December 3rd, noon – 3 pm

 

Native Plants for Rock Gardens

Charming and diminutive plants from Ottawa Valley’s natural rock gardens

Species from slide show, in order shown
Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis)
Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis)
Common Bluets (Houstonia carulia)
Long-leaved Bluets (Houstonia longifolia)
Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus)
Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue (P. hirsutus var. pygmaeus)
Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
Hooked-spur or Early Violet (Viola adunca)
Bird’sfoot Violet (Viola pedata)
Eastern Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum)
White Camas (Ziggy) (Zigadenus glauca or Anticlea elegans ssp. glaucus)
Upland White Aster (Solidago ptarmicoides)
Three-toothed Cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassus glauca)
Sticky False Asphodel (Tofieldia glutinosa)
Carnivorous Plants: Pitcher Plant, Sundew, Bladderwort
Dwarf Canadian Primrose (Primula mistassinica)
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Spring Ephemerals: Spring Beauty /Trout Lily /Toothwort
Hepaticas
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadensis)
Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)
Broad-leaved Sedge (Carex platyphylla)
Carex eburnea
Trailing Arbutus (Epigea repens)
Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
Creeping Snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula)
Common Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana)
Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)
Tall Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)

 

Why Use Native Plants

Resources:

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy
Doug Tallamy – Earth Optimism Summit 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky5e4lPmA0U

September is a good time to plant

September is a good time to plant native wildflowers in your garden. It is an especially good time to add spring-blooming natives such as pussy-toes, columbines, and violets, if you want to increase wild-life attractiveness and spring colour for next year. These early bloomers grow well in cool soil so even with cooling night temperatures, they have plenty of time to root in well and prepare for lots of bloom for next year.

Pussytoes, both the low, creeping field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) and the slightly larger plantain-leaved pussytoes (A. plantaginifolia) are host (food) plants for the caterpillars of American Lady butterflies. American Ladies are strong fliers and mama American Ladies are well able to find new patches of pussytoes, even in seemingly inhospitable city gardens.

Violets are also key butterfly food plants. The diverse native species of violets are the hosts for the caterpillars of the several species of Fritillary butterflies. We often see the small Meadow Fritillaries checking out the Canada violets which are growing in lower dampish bits of lawn at the bottom of our garden. And, yes, Canada violets are the aggressively spreading violets which will seed themselves in lawns. We have them in both purple and white form and we like the way they create a floral carpet in that part of the lawn. However, I can quite understand that not everyone wants this effect and why some people are wary of adding Canada violets to their gardens.

We also offer other species of violets, some of which are anything but aggressive spreaders. We have two species of violets for open, sunny, dry places: Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata) and Hooked-spur Violet (V. adunca). They may be especially attractive to the large and glamorous butterfly called the Great Spangled Fritillary, a creature which likes warm, sunny places. Hooked-spur Violet is also called Early Violet and it is a lovely low, early bloomer for rock gardens. Bird’s Foot Violet is a very special species from Carolinian Ontario which has relatively large flowers and which will rebloom in summer. It is an exceptionally nice flower for sunny rock gardens.

September is a good time to plant shrubs. Beaux Arbres carries some of the smaller, decorative native shrubs and this year we are well supplied with Pasture Rose (Rosa virginiana), Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina), Purple Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia), and Kalm’s St. John’swort (Hypericum kalmianum). The last one, Kalm’s St. John’swort, is a Great Lakes indigene which also occurs in the Ottawa Valley. We are proud to be able to say our Kalm’s St. John’swort is grown from seed collected here in Bristol Township, Quebec.

Beaux Arbres Native Plants has these and many other species of wildflower in stock. We are open until the end of September. Come and visit us soon.

Relentless rain a week before the Ottawa sale

The Rare and Unusual Plant Sale on Sunday, May 14th, at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa is less than a week away and I am past hoping for a spell of warm, sunny weather to bring on some flowers. At this point, I am reduced to hoping fervently that our local ferry service will be resumed so that we can get across the Ottawa River! The 7-day forecast for next Sunday predicts “Rain” — what a surprise! Today it is cold and actually snowing.

We do not have heated greenhouses so what we can bring to the sale is what the season brings and that means this year we will not have any warmth-loving plants. All the summer-flowering prairie species are still below ground. (We will be back in Ottawa for the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Sale, Saturday, June 3rd, so you will have another opportunity to pick up Swamp Milkweed, Compass Plant, Pale Purple Coneflower and many other summer flowers and native grasses.)

Tiarella cordifolia

Foamflower

Some of the native spring flowers, long adapted to the vagaries of Canadian springs, are looking surprisingly good. Diverse pussytoes (Antennaria spp.) and Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis) are sending up flower buds on schedule, despite the inclement weather. Boreal Jacob’s Ladder, from the far north, doesn’t mind this weather at all. The wanna-be evergreen Foamflower and heucheras are very slowly replacing their battered last year leaves with new growth; the new leaves are visible, if still small and curled.

Lovely Wood Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum), picture above, are looking good — maybe even a flower or two by Sunday. This is the first year I can offer this charming flower for shade. It is not locally native, being represented in Canada only by two small populations near London, Ontario. However, it is an easy, hardy plant for gardens in our area and will even rebloom in late summer if happy.

Also new this year will be Broad-leaved Sedge (Carex platyphylla), which I have grown from seed collected locally on the Eardly Escarpment. Now, sedges are never wildly flamboyant in flower, and this one is not even showy in flower by sedge standards. Broad-leaved sedge has broad (for a sedge), evergreen leaves that are distinctively blue-grey and banded. Think of it as a miniature evergreen hosta, and you may begin to appreciate its possibilities. Full disclosure: I like native evergreen woodland sedges, I just do.

Antennariapl

We will be bringing in a diversity of native wildflowers to the sale, even though some will be smaller and less developed than I had hoped: Cardinal Flower, Common Bluets, Wild Columbine, Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue, Golden Ragwort, Sweet Grass,Bottlebrush Grass, Purple Chokeberry, and CarolinaLupin, to name just a few.

See you there, umbrellas and all!

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Carolina Lupin (Thermopsis villosa)

Plant list: winter 2017

We have added a PDF list of species to our new website. Now, realize, folks, that I created this list from last year’s list and my, possibly flawed, memory of what new species I had added by last fall. I will not know what I actually have until the snow melts and I can get at the nursery stock and make an inventory. Some things just up and die over winter from time to time. However, I wanted to give interested folks at Seedy Saturday and Seedy Sunday some idea of what we carried in plants. So, please consider this list provisional.

Making a wildflower meadow

A talk by Trish Murphy of Beaux Arbres Native Plants

at

Nepean Horticultural Society

City View United Church

Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7:30 pm

All are welcome.

There is great interest in creating pollinator-friendly gardens. Creating a wildflower meadow – a sunny plant community of native grasses and wildflowers — is one of the easiest and fastest ways to create wildlife habitat and promote diversity. I’ll be outlining the methods we used to create three different meadow-like areas at our nursery and showcasing some of the lovely native grasses and wildflowers we planted.

Resources: PDF’s to download

Wildflower Establishment: Organic Site Preparation Methods. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. www.xerces.org
Delaney et al. 2000. Planting the Seed: A Guide to Establishing Prairie and Meadow Communities in Southern Ontario, www.csu.edu/cerc/researchreports/documents/PlantingTheSeedGuideEstablishingPrairieMeadowCommunities2004.pdf
A Landowner’s Guide to Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna Management in Ontario. Tallgrass Ontario. www.tallgrassontario.org