End of Season

Thanks to all the great customers who have supported us through some challenging time. I am always especially grateful to repeat customers – folks who took a chance on a prepaid order and then ordered again.

This summer I worked myself to a state of heat exhaustion three times and I am going to have to make some changes. I have decided that I must cut back on the list of species offered and I have decide that I will not offer as many Asters, Goldenrods, late yellow daisies and also drop a few others, species that are easy from seeds and that other growers can supply. Going into the winter,I have a supply (far too many really) of Goldenrods, etc, that I will be selling next season, but I will not be seeding them again. I will continue with a few Goldenrods and Asters that I think are especially valuable in gardens, which right now includes Ohio Goldenrod, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod, and Stout Goldenrod.

I hope that I will be able to make some structural changes to the nursery that makes it easier for me in in hot weather and also gives more space for shade plants. I simply do not have time to do this work if I am looking after too many plants. As well, I hope that if I am less exhausted I will be able to do things like answer your emails in a timely fashion, or, indeed, answer them at all.

Some of the challenging-to-grow plants that I hope to be able to devote more time to:

Disappointing Fringed Gentians, flowering in pots.
  • Bloodroot – easy in the garden but sulks in pots
  • Michigan Lily
  • Fringed Gentian – pictured right
  • Ferns from spores – especially Christmas and Evergreen Wood Fern
  • Diverse evergreen sedges

Fringed Gentian is one of the most beloved wild flowers but it is a beast to offer commercially. It is a short-lived monocarp, that is, it dies after flowering. I can germinate the seeds readily enough, which is a start, and three year old plants will put out one flower and then die. My best plant so far got to be about 8″ tall and had three flowers. This species is likely dependent upon mycorrhizal symbionts to make good growth and I need to spend some time experimenting.

Plants for shade are always in demand for urban gardens and I have never had enough.

To really understand why bringing on more plants for shade is a multi-year project, I need to give give you an idea of the relative growth rates of typical plants for sun and plants for shade. The feature photo above gives you some idea: Hoary Vervain – a typical plant for sunny meadows – on the right and Bunchberry on the left. The Bunchberry seeds are collected in August and iI never seem to get enough. I am collecting from wild patches and a never want to collect more than 10% of the seeds. I am also competing with birds, who, some years, are so hungry they strip the plants before the fruits are even fully ripe. The Hoary Vervain seeds are collected in October and a very few minutes in the garden among my stock plants yields far more seeds than I can use or sell. Both will germinate after one winter. By the end of the first summer the Hoary Vervain have outgrown their pots but the Bunchberry are an inch across or less. In the photo below, the larger green pot on the left has Bunchberry seedlings after their first summer, the small square pot at the front has a two year old Bunchberry, and the round pot in the middle has a Bunchberry that is three or more years old. It is now a good size to be added to the garden. (Doesn’t Bunchberry have a lovely purple colour in the fall?) Bunchberry is hardly the slowest to develop woodland plant. The small black pot on the left has seven Partridgeberry seedlings that are the same age as the Bunchberry seedlings. I am actually surprised they germinated at all after one winter, I expected them to require two periods of cold-moist stratification. Perhaps more seeds will germinate next summer. But, as of today, after a year, I have seven Partridgeberry plants that are each the size of a small bead.

I will not be carrying many shrubs except for a few very choice small ones. I intend to keep Lead Plant and the local genotype Kalm’s St. John’s Wort. I still love and want to offer Glaucous Honeysuckle and Purple Clematis but the more common (and easier to source) Virgin’s Bower Clematis will not be available, except perhaps as seeds. Vines are cumbersome to bring to market and easily broken so I do not bring them to sales. They can be ordered or purchased at the farm.

I will also be making changes to the website this winter. The WordPress format that I chose years ago has become increasingly creaky, and out-of-date with the current WordPress standards. I am going to select a new up-to-date WordPress formant, which may have a very different look. I will make some changes to the way the menus are organized at the same time. My hope that it will be easier for me to keep current, and for you to use, too. (Don’t worry, the URL won’t change, just the look of the site.)

I am back at the farm about the first week of April. Please do not e-mail enquiries about 2023 plant availability until April. (Chances are I will simply lose sight of it if sent before then.) The first Plant Availability List will be posted on the website about the first of May. Our first Ottawa Sale of the year has been, for some years now, the Friends of the Farm Annual Plant Sale, colloquially known as the Mothers’ Day Sale (although it is not always held on Mothers’ Day — some years it is held the Sunday after Mothers’ Day.). The nursery is open for visitors after the Friends of the Farm sale.

This month, as well as putting the plants to bed for the winter, I am collecting seeds. The first round of seeds should be packaged and available about the middle of November and the list will be posted here on the web site.

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Bringing Plants to Ottawa, Wednesday, July 13th

Beaux Arbres will be bringing plant orders to Ottawa on the evening of Wednesday, July 13th to distribute them from our Britannia area condo’s Visitor Parking Lot. I know some folks were not able to make the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market and others did not want to pick up a large order with Westboro’s potentially congested parking situation. So we are reverting to the parking lot distribution point we used during the pandemic and bringing the plants in mid-week. We will be back at Westboro in September.

I have a new Plant Availability List to download (below). This year’s seedings are maturing so there are lots of species now available in the economical $6 size. Noteworthy are Butterfly Milkweed, at the $6 price, and Downy Wood-mint, which I cannot overwinter in pots and so it is only ever available in the summer. (I have potted up a few Poke, which is another plant that I only ever have available mid to late summer, as it almost never overwinters in pots.)

As I mentioned earlier, this spring I completely sold out of some of the choice woodland plants such as Bunchberry and Twinflower. They will not be available again until next year. However, shade-loving stalwarts, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod and White Snakeroot are back in the $6 size. I have American Spikenard again in gallon pots. (I love Spikenard — the Spikenards behind our barn have benefited from the wet spring and are going to top 7 feet!) I have three new and interesting plants for the Shade Garden: an eastern North American Monkshood, and two delicate Tick-trefoils. Another hard-woking ground cover native for shady spots is Large-leaved Aster. I have a few now with lots more to come soon.

Although one of the common names of the Monkshood is Southern Blue Monkshood, as opposed to the vanishingly rare Northern Blue Monkshood, it’s native range comes up to central New York State and the plants in my garden came easily through last winter’s rather brutal cold temperatures. It is just as toxic as the European monkshoods — so definitely NOT a plant for a daycare garden — but if you are looking for truly deer-resistant species, this one might be for you. The blue flowers in late summer are gorgeous (featured photo above). It gets about a meter tall in my garden and twines in among other plants in a vine-like manner. Moist soil and light or dappled shade are what it wants.

Email me with your selections by Monday, July 11th, 6 pm and I will get back to you with payment details, etc. Email: naturalgarden@xplornet.ca

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.)