Smooth Rose (Rosa blanda) is in full bloom at Beaux Arbres.
We carry three species of wild rose: Smooth Rose, Shining Rose (Rosa nitida) from the Maritimes, and Virginia Pasture Rose (Rosa virginiana). All are beloved by bees.
Another successful sale at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden! Thanks to all the FWG volunteers who put on this wonderful event and thanks to all our customers, some new, some familiar faces.
If you were not able to get to the FWG on Saturday morning, Beaux Arbres has an even greater selection of native plants available at the nursery. Please phone (819-647-2404) or message, to confirm we are open. We are open any time we are there.
Our next events are not until August: the Pontiac Garden and Gifts Tour on the 4th and 5th and our own Open Garden Day on Sunday, the 26th.
I now have time to do the long neglected task of actual GARDENING at Beaux Arbres, although propagation still continues. I will post about new and interesting species throughout the summer.
Michael is planning some basketry workshops at the farm this summer.
I am almost too busy getting the plants ready for the sale to blog about them but there are a few new species that are too interesting to ignore.
Seeded earlier this year and already big enough to plant now, the lovely biennial Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum). I know, Swamp and Thistle. Don’t let your experience with weedy non-native thistles, neither the stately but dangerous Bull Thistle nor the absolutely appalling Russian Thistle, put you off this great native for damp spots. It is so unlikely to seed into gardens that I suggest you collect some seeds in the fall to ensure you don’t lose it. I received my seeds as a generous gift from Lis Allison, whose Pine Ridge Studio, near Carp, is a great source for locally grown native ferns. Native thistles are great nectar sources for butterflies and the nutritious seeds feed many birds.
Also new this year: Dwarf Arctic Iris (Iris setosa var. arctica), a miniature wild iris and seriously cute. We have some in bud. Seriously cute. Shop early.
We are bringing a few pots of Rock Whitlow-grass (Draba arabisans). Perhaps not the most exciting of Drabas — the really tiny, exciting ones are all denizens of either the high Arctic or Alpine peaks and dislike hot weather — but we just this past Sunday saw this species used very effectively in the Natives area of the Alpine Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden (featured image). This Draba species is an easy plant for rock gardens, small enough for troughs.
And speaking of rock gardens, yes, we will have lots of Common Bluets, still happily blooming.
We will not be bringing many shrubs to the sale this year — three species of roses, some Shrubby Cinquefoil, a few others. Plan to come out to the nursery for more shrubs.
The Fletcher Sale is the only time we bring the mid to late summer meadow flowers into Ottawa. They won’t be in bloom now, of course, but take the opportunity to add some great heat-loving natives, for flowers throughout the summer. Many of the prairie and meadow flowers are important nectar and pollen food sources for diverse pollinators: Boneset, Great Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, Swamp Milkweed, diverse yellow daisies and many others. New this year: Rattlesnake Master and Tall Coreopsis.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.