Winding Down

Our Hypertufa Trough Planting workshop was the last planned event of the season. Some wonderful troughs gardens were created. We are still at the farm until mid-November but we are winding down sales. The soil is getting to be too cool to install warm-season plants, and many herbaceous plants are entering dormancy.

I want to thank all our customers for helping us get through this challenging season. I am especially grateful to the repeat customers. Some folks took a chance on our prepaid order/pick-up scheme early in the summer, and then ordered more. I am also especially grateful to some old friends, and a new friend, who allowed us to use their driveways for pick-up locations across Ottawa, so we could reach customers in diverse neighbourhoods.

Predictions for next spring

I may be wrong, but I do not expect the Ottawa Seedy Saturday and Ottawa Valley Seedy Sunday, indoors and in early March, will happen in 2021. And even if they were to be held, I don’t think I would want to participate as a vendor. The spring plant sales are another matter. I am very much hoping and expecting the Friends of the Farm Sale (Mothers’ Day Sale), the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Annual Sale, and the Westboro Farmers’ Markets will happen next spring, outdoors, and with appropriate protocols. I am sure we will all be very eager for these cheering events after what may become a very grim winter.

So, with this in mind, I am taking a bit of a holiday this year from seed cleaning and packaging. I don’t enjoy cleaning seeds, and our Seedy Saturday seed sales were always meant to be local and to augment our plant sales. In other words, we are not going to be moving towards a big mail-order seed presence. I may have some species available in seed — I’ll post on the website.

We did find the prepaid orders and pick-ups to be a good way of getting our plants to our customers and we will continue with that in 2021, even as we get back into the sale days and farmers’ markets.

We introduced some interesting new species this summer, such as Ditch Stonecrop, Water Plantain, and Downy Wood Mint. I did not find time in the growing season to add their species profiles to the website, so over the winter I shall be adding pics and info on our new species. Please check in from time to time.

Newly-planted Fen/Alvar Trough: Pitcher Plant, Dwarf Canadian Primrose, Early Saxifrage, and Stitchwort.

Saturday at Westboro Market

It is not too late to order plants for pick-up at the Westboro Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Saturday. Please get your order to us by noon on Friday as we load up the trailer Friday afternoon. Order Plants.

We are out of many popular species until next year. No more Butterfly Milkweed, Ironweed, or even Large-leaved Aster. However, we still have lots of plants available – little known species such as Ditch Stonecrop, Whorled Milkweed, and Goat’s Rue. We have some great native vines available: Purple Clematis, Virgin’s Bower, Canada Moonseed, and Hairy Honeysuckle. The latest Plant Availability list is up on the Order Plants page.

The Featured Image is the flower of native Purple Clematis.

We’re back at the Market

Beaux Arbres will be back at the Westboro Market for this Saturday, September 12th and the following Saturday, September 19th. The market is around the corner in McKellar Park this summer and Covid19 protocols are in place. You will be able to buy plants from the selection we bring to the market but we encourage you to pre-order for pick-up on the day. I have just prepared a new Plant Availability List for you to download. And we have a Back to the Market Special – see below.

We have had a wonderful response from our understanding customers who have sent us orders for our summer delivery dates and who have come out to the farm. It has been an interesting summer. We are grateful for all your support.

We have run out of some species for the year, including such garden stalwarts as Spike Blazing Star, Nodding Prairie Onion, Wild Bergamot, and White Turtlehead. But there are some new additions that weren’t there earlier in the summer: totally new species such as Downy Wood Mint, returning species such as Purple Clematis, and never-available-in-the-spring-’cause they-are-so-slow-to-get-going species such as Butterfly Milkweed.

Back to the Market Special

Our Prairie Smoke plants are usually $12 for a 4 1/2″ tall pot. Right now we have an abundance of Prairie Smoke in 4″ pots which we will have available at the market at the special price of 4 for $20. This is a great deal on a plant you want to have lots of!

Prairie Smoke in the garden at Beaux Arbres.

Native Vines

Native vines, and where to get them, have been much discussed this summer on some native plant Facebook pages I follow. Beaux Arbres has a fine selection of native vines for the Ottawa region.

One of my favourite vines is the Glaucous Honeysuckle. Unfortunately, I forgot to collect seed from this species last year. To have some Glaucous Honeysuckle available, I layered some stems of the plants in my garden. I have only a couple of these starts left. I do have a good supply of Hairy Honeysuckle, grown from seed. Hairy Honeysuckle is similar to Glaucous, but the flowers are yellow rather than red and it flowers a little later.

chèvrefeuille dioïque
Glaucous Honeysuckle

Canada Moonseed (featured image) is not well known but it is a good vine for shade. The flowers are tiny and hidden in the leaves. If the plant is female, and there is a male nearby, the flowers will be followed by dark blue fruit. Leave these for the birds – the seeds should not be eaten by people. Canada Moonseed has attractive lobed leaves.

Virgin’s Bower seeds.

There are two native Clematis in the Ottawa area. Virgin’s Bower is a large vigorous vine, adorned with a froth of small white flowers in late summer. It flowers best in a sunny locations. Much less common and much less known, Purple Clematis has large nodding blue-violet flowers in spring. It is found in the wild in woods, but it flowers more abundantly in gardens if it has at least half-day sun. Both vines have attractive seeds heads after their flowers. Now that I have a few Purple Clematis established in the garden at Beaux Arbres, I have easy access to a supply of seeds of this elusive species, and I now have a good supply of young Purple Clematis available.

Purple Clematis on a trellis at Beaux Arbres.

American Bittersweet is, like Canada Moonseed, dioecious, that is, it has male and female flowers on different plants. Some years ago, I grew some American Bittersweet from locally collected seed, and I still have a few pots left. This plant will not flower when dwarfed by being kept in a pot, and there is no way to tell if it male or female until it flowers. Most folks, quite understandably, want a known female, since it is the bright orange fall fruit which is the decorative feature of this vine. The oldest and largest specimen in the garden at Beaux Arbres is a female and it has produced a couple of suckers. Drop me a line if you are seeking a female American Bittersweet, and I can pot up a sucker off our known female.

We grow two herbaceous vines, the dainty biennial Allegheny Fringe, and new this year, the intriguing American Groundnut. We were generously given some garden divisions of Groundnut by a loyal customer and I am propagating it from the roots. For centuries, American Groundnut has been vegetatively propagated by Indigenous people in eastern Canada for its edible roots, so this is one species where I needn’t worry too much about maintaining genetic diversity through propagating by seeds. The tubers of American Groundnut are delicious roasted.

There is one more native vine which I would very much like to be able to offer: Carrion Flower. I have tried several times to start this handsome herbaceous vine from seed but have never been successful. I would love to hear if anyone has been successful in germinating Carrion Flower.

Plant Availability June 1

Download the latest Plant Availability lists:

I have run out of Golden Alexanders and Anise-hyssop but plants from this year’s seeding will be available later in the summer. I am also out of Ohio Goldenrod. Many customers asked have asked me for Stiff Goldenrod so last year I seeded Stiff Goldenrod, which is a reasonable substitute for Ohio Goldenrod. Wild Columbine is not on this week’s list. The really hot weather last week brought on the little green caterpillars which defoliate Wild Columbine. The plants which recover, and many of them do, will be back on the list in the fall. Losing some of the Columbines is just one of the rigours of growing nursery plants without using pesticides.

Plant Availability, May 24

New plant availabilty List to download in PDF or Xcel formats:


Bowman’s Root plants in the nursery.

Not yet in bloom but looking very good: Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifoliata) and its close relative American Ipecac (G. stipulata). both have starry white flowers and pretty fall foliage colour. American Ipecac ‘s range is further south and west so I expect it to be more drought-tolerant than Bowman’s Root.

A great companion for Bowman’s root is the lovely Wild Geranium.

Mountain Pussytoes are starting in to bloom. This is a very low Pussytoes with grey-pink flowers, very nice for rock gardens.

Mountain Pussytoes in the Rock Garden.

The two smaller wild Irises are budding nicely, little Dwarf Arctic Iris and mid-size Beach-head Iris.

I am a big fan of Spikenard, an imposing plant for shade with a great fruit display in the fall. They were slow to get going this spring, but are now making up for lost time.

Psst, wanna buy a clematis?

We could meet in a parking lot, wearing masks. Not necessarily at dusk, and I don’t know if I could hide the clematis under my overcoat, but the new retail normal is … odd.

I have one pot of the native Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis) still available of the plants from my original seed collecting. I now have this species established in my garden, but it will be a few years till I have mature plants available for sale again. This is a woodland clematis with large (for a wild clematis) purple flowers in the spring. Native to the Ottawa Valley but not at all common. It is much more restrained in growth than the abundant white-flowered Virgin’s Bower (C. virginiana). The individual plant I have for sale is 4 years old and has abundant flower buds.

I also have two pots of Fremont’s Leather Flower I am willing to sell. I raised 5 plants from seed from the Ontario Rock Garden Society seed exchange. Now, I do like to keep at least 5 plants of unusual species that I hope to collect seed from, but Fremont’s Leather Flower is one of the limestone-loving Clematis. A realistic assessment of the space I might someday have in my yet-to-be-built limestone garden (realistic assessment is a hard task for plant lovers) suggests I am never going to have the space for 5 Fremont’s Leather Flowers. So I am keeping only three.

Fremont’s Leather Flower is a non-vining Clematis from the south-eastern US. it has dangling white or lavender urn-shaped flowers in June on a clumping herbaceous plant about a foot and a half high. In the wild it is found on dolomitic glades and limestone prairies

I Purple Clematis and 2 Fremont’s Leather Flower

New Plant Availability List

As promised, I have a new Plant Availability list. That warm weather I was counting upon to bring on a whole lot of new species – didn’t happen. There are a few.

I will be making a delivery to the pick-up point in the west-end of Ottawa on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 13th, with a stop around noon in Arnprior. If you would like order plants for this delivery, please email your orders to us by 5 pm Monday, May 11th. You will have other opportunities – I plan to be delivering again to Ottawa in about 2 weeks. We still have not heard how the Ottawa Farmers’ Markets will be operating this summer.

I am now out of a few species. Early orders took all I had ready of Skunk Cabbage, Pearly Everlasting, and Virginia Waterleaf. Not to worry, there will be more of those available in a few weeks. However, I am out for the season for Wild Ginger. I have had a hard time building up a good supply of Wild Ginger. Folks blessed with the right sort of soil can get a thriving colony of Wild Ginger going and pot up divisions and volunteers, but our poor sand is not really what Wild Ginger wants. It grows in our area, just a mile or two up the road, in an area of slightly richer soil.

Instructions for Ordering Plants

Seed Sale

Half Price Seed Sale

It is not too late to order native seeds for those species that require no cold pretreatment. These seeds are often tiny things that we sow on the surface of a pot of seed-sedstarting mix and give moisture and warmth.

Many species in the Pea Family germinate well with hot water soaking to soften the hard seed coat, followed by a brief 10 -14 day cold-moist stratification, which you can easuly give them in a Ziplock baggie in the fridge. After the cold period, sow, bring into warmth and they often germinate very readily.

I also have two uncommon and highly desirable species of clematis, for which even the March Seedy Saturdays are too late, These clematis seeds want a period of warm-moist treatment to finish ripening the seeds, before they experience winter (cold-moist). If you get them now — and mark your calendar carefully — you will have them on hand to start conditioning them in the fall.

All Beaux Arbres seeds are now half price, that is $2.00 a packet or 8 packets for $15, while supplies last. (+$5 for shipping). Available at time of posting:

Easy Warm Germinators:

Pea Family species requiring scarification and short cold period:

Very Choice Species Clematis:

  • Sugar Bowls
  • Purple Clematis

Send us a request via the Contact Page and we will send you info on paying us by e-transfer or cheque. Happy Gardening!

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.