Plant Availability for June 18th market

To pre-order for pick-up at the Saturday, June 18th Westboro Farmers’ Market, please download and make your selection from the latest Plant Availability List. We will be coming into Ottawa Friday late afternoon. If you cannot make the Saturday market, perhaps picking up your order Friday evening from our Britannia area parking lot is possible. Please let us know if you would like to meet us in the Visitor Parking lot of our Britannia condo on Friday evening instead of at the Westboro market.

I am very low on plants for shady areas. It is always difficult to keep up with demand for native plants for shade. White Snakeroot seedlings are now available. I will have gallon pots of American Spikenard again this summer, but I am completely out of things like Wild Ginger and Bunchberry until next year.

This year’s seedlings are starting to become available. Anise-hyssop, Swamp Milkweed, Tall Sunflower, Purple Coneflower, and Hoary Vervain are now big and sturdy enough to plant out. At $6 each, these are an economical way to develop a meadow or large pollinator garden. More species will become available in the next weeks. And the lovely native biennial thistle, Field Thistle, is still available for $5 each.

I have added hot links to the Common Names of many of the species on the list. For pictures and info on growing conditions, please use the hot links to the species profiles.

To order, please send your selections, by 6 pm on Wednesday, to email address: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca and I will send you details about how to make payment.

The featured photo above is: Tall Sunflower

Native Thistles

As a kid I loved the big Bull Thistles that sometimes appeared in our garden. True, the first year basal rosettes could be painful to a child who, like me, went barefoot as much as she could, but i loved them. I loved their enormous, prickly stature and their gorgeous purple flowers. Thistles have been valued by other gardeners: the silvery biennial Scotch Thistle called Miss Wilmott’s Ghost is a component of the most esteemed British gardens, and some northern gardeners struggle to grow cardoons, a Mediterranean artichoke relative, for their statuesque thistleyness.

Far too few Ontario gardeners know that there are lovely native thistles. The native Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor) has just as lovely a flower as as the non-native Bull Thistle, the plant is almost as large, but it is never an aggressive self-seeder in gardens. Field Thistle is well-armed with prickles, but, unlike the Bull Thistle, the prickles occur only on the leaves and in the axils of the leaves, they do not extend down the stems. This is the easy distinguishing field mark between the native and the non-native: the non-native Bull Thistle has thorns on the stems, the native Field Thistle does not. Field Thistle is found in the wild almost exclusively in very high quality natural sites. It is uncommon in Ontario and I believe it is officially considered Rare in Quebec.

The native thistles are such important nectar sources for native bees and other pollinators that the Xerces Society has devoted a publication just to promoting native thistles and their ecological connections. After the flowers, the high fat, high calorie seeds are very desirable for small birds such as goldfinches. I think you might want to grow a Field Thistle or two in your native plant garden.

I shall be bringing Field Thistle seedlings to the Wesboro Farmers Market’ this Saturday, June 4th. Like so many Thistles, they are biennials. They will flower in their second year and then die, although sometimes they leave small offsets at the base to keep the plant going. They get 5 or 6 feet tall, depending on the soil. They are plants of prairies and sunny meadows, so provide them with lots of sun and well-drained soil. Do be sure to wear serviceable gardening gloves when clearing away the spent flowering stems – the plants are thistles, after all. I think you will be pleased with all the bees and butterflies they attract, and the goldfinches will love you.

A Giant Swallowtail on a wild Field Thistle.
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and a bee on a wild Field Thistle.
Field Thistle in the garden at Beaux Arbres.

Plant Availability List for the June 4th market

I have a new Plant Availability List for pre-ordering for pick-up at the June 4th Westboro Farmers’ Market. Many of the summer-flowering sunny meadow are now available, some in very limited quantities. I have been potting up seedlings like crazy all week – this year’s seedlings of things like Anise-hyssop, Swamp Milkweed, and White Snakeroot, will be available very soon, with many others to follow. The rapidly growing biennial Field Thistle is now available.

I just sold the last of my American Spikenards. Not to worry, I have little ones of this splendid woodland species coming along which will be available by mid-summer.

The last herbaceous plant to emerge in the spring is usually Swamp Rose Mallow. They have just started into growth but the warm weather predicted for this week will really get them going, so I have included them on the list. My plants are Ontario genotype, wild-form of this large and impressive flower.

Although our thoughts are moving on to summer flowers, one gorgeous little spring flower, Dwarf Arctic Iris (pictured above), a miniature version of the Blue flag, should be in full flower for Saturday. These are fine multi-year clumps, with lots of buds – a bargain at $15 a pot.

Instructions for pre-ordering are at the bottom of the list. Essentially, email me, at naturalgarden@xplornet.ca, with your choices and I will reply with payment details. To keep up-to-date on Plant Availability, follow the blog using the white Follow rectangle in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. And remember, we re-use nursery pots.

Beaux Arbres at Westboro Farmers’ Market on Saturday

We will be a vendor at Westboro Farmers’ Market for their opening day, this Saturday, May 21st. I have a new Plant Availability List if you wish to pre-order for pick up at the market.

The response to our plants at the Friends of the Farm Sale last Sunday was stupendous. We were just about completely out of stock by about 11 o’clock. So, I have potted up some more Virginia Waterleaf and Cardinal Flower, and some others, but they will not be ready for this Saturday. I also go behind on my plans to pot up some other species due to the incredibly hot and drying weather we had last week. So there are a few species on the Availability List paradoxically listed as Not Available Yet. I don’t want you to give up on them – they will be back in stock when we are next at the Westboro Market on Saturday, June 4th.

First Plant Sale in Two Years

I am really looking forward to the Friends of the Farm Sale tomorrow. It will be the first plant sale Beaux Arbres has participated in in two years. (We did manage one Farmers’ Market last July and two in September of 2020.) We have a wonderful array of plants to bring to the sale – a mixture of spring flowers and some summer-flowering plants that have emerged in the recent heat.

It has been a challenge getting the plants organized in this extreme heat and some of the early species I had hoped to have in full bloom have already passed their peak. Prairie Crocus is long over but we are bringing some plants to the sale anyway. This incredibly early beauty is a great addition to any sunny rock garden.

A species I am very proud to be able to offer is the lovely little Early Buttercup. It has taken two years to get these small plants up to salable size. The seed is originally from the local Ottawa Valley population of this alvar specialist plant. We are not on limestone at Beaux Arbres so I have planted what will be my stock plants for future seeds in a hypertufa trough with limestone mulch to mimic their alvar home.

Early Buttercup in a hypertufa trough.

Everyone gardening with butterflies in mind wants to know when the milkweeds will be available. Milkweeds are real heat-lovers and are always slow to emerge in the spring. I do have some nice pots of Whorled Milkweed to bring to the sale tomorrow. This low-growing species from south-western Ontario is not the showiest in flower but it is very attractive to Monarchs looking for a place to lay their eggs. We expect to be bringing some Dwarf Milkweed (seed from Manitoba) to the Westboro Farmers’ Market next Saturday.

The forecast for this Sunday is rain and possible thunderstorm. The weather gods must know we are bringing prepaid orders in cardboard boxes. Some folks who ordered from us last year will remember the soggy muddle of our first rainy delivery day last May. Honestly, I should start charging a fee to farmers – putting plant orders into cardboard boxes seems to be the most effective rain dance ever devised.

Warm-season Plants Starting to Grow

A week of (very) warm weather has pushed all sorts of summer-blooming, heat-loving plants into growth, unfortunately not in time for the pre-orders for the Friends of the Farm Sale on Sunday. I will be bringing a smattering of summer-blooming flowers to the sale, along with many spring flowers. And you have more chances to pre-order for pick-up at the Westboro Farmers’ Market.

The Fletcher Wildlife Garden Annual Sale, it has just been announced will be on a pre-order only basis, as it was last year. With no sale event, we don’t have a chance to be the guest vender at the sale event. We will be at the Westboro Farmers’ Market again that Saturday, June 4th.

I have sold out of a few species: Anise-hyssop, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod, and some others. I overwintered only so many in each species. However, they will be available again later in the summer as this spring’s seedlings get to salable size. I will post a new Availability List this week.

To keep up-to-date with new Plant Availability, please follow my blog to receive e-mail notifications of new postings. Click on the white Follow button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and add your email address.

The vivid red flower in the feature image is called Royal Catchfly and it is one of the summer bloomers that I will be bringing a few pots of to the Friends of the Farm Sale.

Plant Availability List for May, 2022

The long spell of cold weather in the latter part of April really slowed down plant growth, but I promised a Plant Availability List for the first of May, so here it is. The fine weather forecasted for the next week or so might bring many more species into growth. If there are enough additional species, I will put out an updated list before May 11th.

For pick-up of prepaid orders at the Friends of the Farm Sale on Sunday, May 15th, I ask that you get your orders e-mailed to me by 6 pm on Wednesday, May 11th. For this event, there is a minimum of $50 for pre-paid orders.

Please put in your orders via email: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

Spring Sales: Getting back to normal

After a two year hiatus, the Friends of the Farm Annual Plant Sale will be held this spring. Although colloquially known as the Mothers Day Sale, it is not always held on Mothers’ Day and this year it will be on May 15th, the Sunday after Mothers’ Day. For several years, this was our first big sale event of the year. During a cold, late spring, we never know what will be up and looking good in time for the sale, but we can hope to have Eastern Shooting Star, Prairie Smoke, Early Saxifrage, Showy Jacob’s Ladder, Bird’s Eye Primrose, and other early spring cuties in bloom, or at least in bud, in time for the sale. Prairie Crocus is so darn early, we may have to move our pots into a cool spot to keep them in bloom for May 15!

We will be bringing a selection of spring flowers to the sale table for sales on the day. In addition, you can pre-order from our Availability List for pick up on the day of the sale. Our first Plant Availability list of 2022 should be up on the website by on or around the 1st of May, with details of how to order.

We are also going to be at the Westboro Farmers’ Market on Saturday, May 21. That is the Saturday of the 24th of May weekend, a traditional time to stock up on garden plants. We will be bringing in a good selection of spring and early summer plants for sale at the Market, but just as for the Friends of the Farm Sale, you can pre-order from the Availability List for pick-up that day. (Because we are doing two things on one day – a sale table and prepaid orders – we will have a minimum in effect for prepaid orders for both days.)

If you want to be kept up-to-date on new Plant Availability Lists, and other announcements, follow us by using the Follow button – the white rectangle in the bottom in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen — to receive e-mail notifications. (I know the dratted thing disappears; that is WordPress’s doing, not ours. It re-appears if you scroll up.)

Pick up seeds at Seedy Saturday

Beaux Arbres has chosen not to be a vendor at this year’s Seedy Saturday but you can pick up pre-ordered seeds at the Seedy Saturday pickup wicket.

If you are heading to the Ron Kolbus Centre for Seedy Saturday on March 5th, you can pick up pre-ordered Beaux Arbres seeds, and other vendors merchandise, at an outside wicket. Please get your seed orders in by Wednesday, March 2nd. We will WAIVE THE SHIPPING CHARGE for orders picked up at Seedy Saturday.

Seeds available, Winter 2021/2022

Growing native plants from seed is an economical way to get more plants, whether to plant a large area or to have extras to share with friends. This winter, Beaux Arbres is offering seeds from more than 80 species of wildflowers native to eastern North America. The species in this collection are among the easiest wildflowers to grow from seed, all seeds tolerant of dry storage and none demanding tricky germination techniques. Packets are $4.00, minimum order – 5 packets.

Many native woodland plants are challenging from seed — either the seeds are intolerant of dry storage or require multiple winters (or both). Because of that, the collection is slanted toward the sunny meadow species. Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) and White Snakeroot (Agertina altissima) are plants for shady gardens that are also easy from seed.

Some other seeds have very hard seed coats that require physical abrasion (scarification) to allow water to get into the seed. They may have evolved to pass through the gizzard of a relatively large bird like a grouse or a turkey, or they may be shoreline plants that have evolve to roll about on a beach, being abraded by the sands and gravels. Frankly, I hate dealing with these fussy seeds. There are some seeds on this list that require scarification but they are all species that I have had success with by using the much easier boiling water method to soften the seed coat. (Basically, put the seeds in a cup, pour boiling water over them, let cool and soak overnight, and drain off the water in the morning.)

The commonest germination technique for native seeds is cold, moist stratification. Essentially, the seed needs to experience winter. This prevents it from germinating on an unusually warm afternoon in December. You can either use the outdoors or a refrigerator. If you do use the outdoors, best to place your pot in a snow-covered place out of the late-winter sun (which can be very warm). The only at-all-tricky species on my list are White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) which needs a longer than usual cold period, and Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium montanum), which responds much better to fluctuating outdoor temperatures than to “winter” in a refrigerator.

Wood Mint

Visitors to the nursery this past summer were impressed by the fine clump of Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliata)(pictured above) in front of the hoop house. Had I any plants for sale, I could have sold dozens. But every single last pot of Wood Mint that I had in the hoop house failed to overwinter. Every last plant of Wood Mint that I planted in the garden wintered just fine. There are some plants that, in western Quebec, well north of their native range, are just like that. They are hardy in the garden but just not hardy enough to overwinter in pots, even when well protected. (The lovely Wood Poppy is another problem child this way.) Fortunately, Downy Wood Mint is fast and easy from seed. Like many plants in the Mint family, it is attractive to small bees. It also has the advantage of being moderate in height and having a long period in bloom, nice features for the flower border. Despite the ‘Wood’ in the common name, this is a plant for places that are more sunny than shady. And, although it is related to Mints and the plants expand a bit after flowering, the roots do not run about all over the place the way true mints (Genus Mentha) do. (Downy Wood Mint is on the Seeds list and I should have seedlings available for sale next summer.)

Wingstem

With so many other tall yellow daisies for late summer to chose from, the rather gangly Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) was never a big seller and I dropped it from my nursery list. I just had to tell folks that Tall Sunflower was the better looking plant. However, if the main focus of your garden is to provide for birds (and, yes, there are lots of birding enthusiasts for whom this is the main reason to garden) then Wingstem is a serious contender for inclusion. (Do also consider Tall Sunflower, as well). The flat, winged seeds of Wingstem are arranged in a rather different pattern than those of most of the yellow daisy clan — more of an accordion file than a tightly packed cone. They are eagerly sought by Goldfinches. Although the yellow daisies of Wingstem are rather small for the height of the plant, if bird-watching is your aim, plant a clump of Wingstem where it is easy to see from the sunny spot where you sit to drink your coffee or tea on September mornings. After several years off the list, Wingstem is again available in seed.

Wingstem