New Species for sale Sunday

We have always tried to have some genuinely rare and/or unusual plants for the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale . This year we have some new and very special species.

We are keeping a close eye on our pots of seed-grown Eastern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia). This species is not locally native; it occurs in Canada in Manitoba, with a wider distribution in the U.S.A. Beautiful and distinctive, Shooting Star is on the logo of the North American Rock Garden Society. Shooting Stars are spring ephemerals, which is to say, the entire plant disappears after flowering, to spend the summer as an underground tuber. The short period in growth means they are slow to develop. We have been growing ours for three years now and hope some will be up to salable size in time for Mothers’ Day..

New for 2018

Rattlesnake Master Eryngium yuccifolium – odd mace-like flowers.

Closed Gentian Gentiana clausa – a white-flowered garden form, 4-year old plants. You can expect them to flower well this September in a damp spot in your garden.

Ohio Goldenrod Solidago ohionensis – well-behaved, flat-topped goldenrod from moist, calcareous soils, adaptable to ordinary sunny gardens. Pictured above, growing wild along Lake Huron shoreline.

New Plants for Shade

Wild Geranium I have a few of this popular flower for light shade or woodland edge. Unfortunately, many of my small plants of this species have not recovered from the winter. I hope to have more available for the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Sale in June.

Dog Violet A nice little plant for damp shade. Grows from central crown and does not spread into lawns.

Kidney-leaved Violet Grows in shade in damp, shady sites.

White Bear Sedge Carex albursina – an evergreen forest-floor sedge with relatively broad, deep green leaves. Limited supply.

Twinflower Linnaea borealis var. americana – beautifully fragrant pink bells in pairs above a low, evergreen carpet in cool, moist, acidic organic soil. From cuttings.Linnaeus boreale

Some popular and special species which we introduced in previous years will be back again: Dwarf Canadian Primrose Primula mistassinica, Broad-leaved Sedge Carex platyphylla, Blue-stemmed Goldenrod Solidago caesia (a lovely clumping goldenrod for light shade) and American Spikenard Aralia racemosa, among many others.

 

Rare and Unusual Plant Sale, 2018

This is a hectic time for me, trying to get the stock ready for our first big sale of the spring, the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale, traditionally on Mothers’ Day, in Ottawa. This will be our fourth year as a vendor at this sale. We now have enough experience to predict that the Weather Gods will provide an especially foul brand of weather for the event. (Hey, prove us wrong!)

We had hoped our new hoop house will help us to bring well-grown plants, showing some colour in their buds, to this sale. Ours is not a heated greenhouse – we were not trying to get too far ahead of the season. The idea was to have the plants only a week or so ahead, without forcing them so much that you have to worry about hardening them off before you can plant them outside. In this exceptionally chilly spring, we seem to be just treading water. However, growth is so rapid this time of year that a few days of sunny warmth, or a few shivery nights, makes a great deal of difference to how the plants display themselves by Mothers Day.

To bring your Spring Wildflower Gardener’s Anticipation Frenzy to a fever pitch, you can download our Spring 2018 Species Availability List: Rare and Unusual Sale 2018.

The cute little thing in the picture is Common Bluets or Quaker Ladies.

Fun with Hypertufa Troughs

The hypertufa troughs I made last fall weathered over the winter (to wash out alkali from the cement) and now comes the fun part: Planting them!

This trough, which broke along one side when unmoulded, was especially fun to do. I call it “Strata Garden.”  It is modelled on the popular Crevice Garden style but with horizontal strata. The plants are all native to local alvars and include:

Sun-loving Violets

by Trish Murphy

This article was originally published in OHS News, April, 2018, the newsletter of the Ottawa Horticultural Society.

One of the things we think we know about violets is that they grow in shade, shyly, among mossy rocks. The other thing we think we know about violets is that they invade lawns.

Many species of native violets do grow in moist shady places A couple of species of native violets, notable the Common Violet, will invade lawns, a tendency which you might think charming or a nuisance. What is less well known is that there are violets for dry sunny places, charming little plants that are ideal candidates for sunny rock gardens.

We grow two of the sun-loving violets in the rock garden at Beaux Arbres. The locally native Hooked-spur or Early Violet (Viola adunca) is one of the earliest native flowers to bloom. It is a small plant, only about 2” tall, covered in small violet blooms in early May. The plant is very well behaved – the stem emerge from a central crown each year. It might seed gently in the rock garden – and volunteers are always welcome with us – but the plant is too small to compete with lawn grass.

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Hooked-spur or Early Violet (Viola adunca).

The second sun-loving violet we grow, Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata) (featured image) is a very special flower from Carolinian Ontario, where it grows in Turkey Point Provincial Park and a very few other locations. It is more widely distributed in the US but it is threatened by habitat loss throughout its range. Bird’s Foot Violet has finely divided foliage, quite unlike that of a typical violet. The flowers, with a prominent yellow central boss, are relatively large for a wild violet. The plant is in bloom for a long period in the spring and will often re-bloom in late summer. Last year, the cool wet weather encouraged Bird’s Foot Violet to be in bloom almost continuously, which is an amazing feat for a native wildflower. This lovely little flower will certainly not invade lawns and is quite shy about offering volunteer seedlings even when we encourage it to do so.

Both of these these violets like full sun in the spring and lean, sandy soil. They can tolerate a bit of shade as the summer progresses, but not too much.

One of the best reasons for growing sun-loving violets, apart from their charming bloom, is to attract and provide food for Fritillary Butterflies. There are several species of fritillary in the Ottawa area and, as caterpillars, they all eat violets, diverse violets but only violets. The smallest species, the Meadow Fritillary seems to seek out violets wherever they are. We often see them laying eggs on or near the Common Violets in the damp end of our lawn. I have had to stop the mower, sometimes giving up on the idea of mowing that day, while the Meadow Fritillaries are intent on egg-laying.
The largest and most glamorous fritillary is called the Great Spangled Fritillary, a very beautiful butterfly, almost as large as a Monarch. Great Spangle Fritillaries are creatures of warm, sun-lit spaces and they don’t seem willing to venture into the shade to find violets. They are so well adapted to dry, sunny environment that they have the ability to discern violets, even if the violet foliage has shrivelled in a dry summer and all that remains are the roots below ground. The mama butterfly will lay her eggs on the ground, in anticipation of the violet’s leaves emerging with damper fall weather.
Great Spangled Fritillaries are quite common at Beaux Arbres, probably because we have so many Hooked-spur Violets growing, not just in the rock garden but abundantly on the dry hills behind the barn.
If you are interested in providing host plants for butterflies, be sure to include some of the lovely little sun-loving violets in your garden plans.

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A Great Spangled Fritillary nectaring on Swamp Milkweed in garden at Beaux Arbres. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on violets.

Plants on the Beaux Arbres website

The Beaux Arbres website has undergone some major additions this past couple of weeks. I have created description pages for many of the species we are propagating. This is a work in progress and will always be a work in progress, as I intend to keep adding new species to my gardening palette, and yours.

I hope that our on-line information on species will be helpful to, for example, folks at sales, who – well-versed in using their phones to find information – might want to see a photo of a plant in bloom or get some other information about one of our plants. Please visit our site and check the listings  from the Plants menu — I would appreciate feedback. Thanks.

New seeds for Seedy Saturday, 2018

Beaux Arbres will be bringing native plant seeds to two Ottawa area Seedy Saturdays: the Ottawa Seedy Saturday on Saturday, March 3rd, at the Ron Kolbus Centre in Britannia Park, and the Pembroke (Ottawa Valley) Seedy Sunday, March 4th. These are always great occasions to stock up on your heirloom vegetable seeds and garlic bulbs, as well as a great diversity of flower seeds.

Beaux Arbres will be offering some new species in seed for 2018. One to look out for is Large-flowered Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus).

Penstemon grandiflorus

Large-flowerd Beardtongue in the garden at Beaux Arbres

The showiest of the eastern North American Penstemons, this two-foot high beauty is native to the American mid-west, where it is considered rare or endangered throughout much of its range.

It has large (for a Penstemon) pink to purple-pink bells and distinctive smooth blue-green leaves. It is often short-lived in gardens, even in its native range, but it is  easy to renew from seeds. Give it full all-day sun and sharp drainage.

Some other new in 2018 at Beaux Arbres: Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue, Smooth Aster, Golden Ragwort, and Downy Skullcap (in limited supply).

Wood Lilies Seeds

We are pleased to again offer, after a few years’ absence, wild-collected Wood Lily seeds These seeds were collected in Bristol Township, Quebec. Wood lilies are unlike our other native lilies in that they are relatively short, grow in rocky places which can be dry in summer, and have up-facing flowers. Wood Lilies are the easiest of the native lilies to germinate but they are slow (4 years) to get up to flowering size and they have to be protected from voles and chipmunks, who love to feast on the bulbs.

Our original seeding of Wood Lilies in the Beaux Arbres rock garden came into bloom last June and they were stunning and certainly worth the wait. Last summer’s wetness seemed to be favourable to seed production in the wild stand from which we had collected those seeds, so we are again able to offer seeds of this exceptional species.

Lilium

Seedy Saturday, Ottawa

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018, 10 am to 3 pm

Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre in Britannia Park, 102 Greenview Ave, Ottawa, ON K2B 5Z6

Ottawa Valley Seedy Sunday

Sunday, March 4, 2018  10 am to 3  pm    

Rankin Rec Centre,  20 Rankin Rink Road off Highway 41
Renfrew County, ON

Summer Visits and Visitors, 2017

We started the season with plans to take many breaks from the nursery for day trips to nearby natural areas. Shaw Woods beckoned. I have never been to Mer Bleu, an important wetland south of Ottawa. I want to get back to the Burnt Lands Alvar at different seasons. Instead, we spent much of the summer feverishly getting on with our potting and seeding between the rainstorms, repairing flood damage, or staying inside watching the downpours through the windows.

The one day trip we did manage was a glorious exploration of Purdun Conservation Area, timed to see the renowned display of Showy Lady Slipper Orchids. Purdun has the largest colony of these orchids in Canada and they are easily viewed from an accessible boardwalk. This conservation area is a treasure.

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The summer saw a modest uptick in adult monarchs and monarch caterpillars.  We had seen no monarch caterpillars in the garden for a couple of years. It was so nice to have them back.

monarch2

Monarch caterpillars were not the only inhabitants of the swamp milkweed. A very tiny green grey tree frog spent some time among the milkweeds.

Grey tree frog

Another grey tree frog (or possibly the same individual) on the patio stones.

tree frog2

In 2016’s dry summer, our tiny formed pool in the rock garden hosted three green frogs. This past summer, there were so many pools and puddles everywhere, the green frogs made other choices. It was a good summer for spotting leopard frogs among the mosses, though.

green frog