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.

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.

Seed List for 2018 Seedy Saturdays

Getting excited about spring? Looking forward to all the wonderful seeds at Seedy Saturday?

Beaux Arbres will be bringing more than 70 species of seeds to two local Seedy Days. To really whet your appetite for wildflower seeds, we have now posted a PDF of our seeds for you to browse in advance. Download Beaux Arbres Seeds

This list reflects what we will be bringing to Ottawa Seedy Saturday on March 3rd. Some of our seed varieties are in very limited supply. We may run out of some varieties quickly.

We also have Gift Certificates available, which can be redeemed for plants at the spring sales in Ottawa or at our nursery. The Rare and Unusual Plant Sale at the Central Experimental Farm is on Mothers’ Day. Just sayin’.

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Not too early to be planning for wildlife-enhancing gardens

In January, the gardener’s thoughts turn to seeds: browsing seed catalogues, preparing seed orders, and receiving parcels of seeds in the mail. When we are not obsessing about seed, we are reading nurseries’s lists. It gets us through the winter – dreams and plans  and anticipation that next season will be the best yet.  With a little attention, we can make choices which enhance our gardens’s ability to attract and sustain beautiful wildlife. Let’s look at three ways to increase wildlife benefits: planting for pollinators, butterfly gardens, and planting to feed wild birds.

Pollinator gardens: As the plight of pollinating insects becomes more known, pollinator gardens have become very popular projects with horticultural societies and clubs and private gardeners. The first stage in a pollinator garden usually focusses, for good reasons, on easy native mid- to late summer flowers for sunny sites: Anise-hyssop, Virginia Mountain Mint, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susans, diverse Asters and Goldenrods. These plants have easy-to-access flowers with abundant nectar or pollen, and are able to feed many species of pollinators.

Share your garden with more wildlife and make  your pollinator garden even more interesting by continuing to increase the diversity of native plants. Consider adding some flowers with distinctive flower shapes to provide food sources for specialized pollinators. For example, add Bottle Gentian (for a damp spot), Prairie Smoke, and flowers in the pea family, such as Purple Prairie Clover and Wild Lupin.

Another great way to make a pollinator planting even more useful is to include flowers for very early and very late. Many of the earliest blooms are on shrubs: willows, American fly honeysuckle, serviceberries, among others.  If you can find room for native shrubs (or, ideally, more native shrubs), they offer many wildlife benefits. Even the smallest gardens can find room for some ground-hugging early perennials. The spring ephemerals of deciduous forest make use of early spring sunshine reaching the forest floor. For open sunny places we like Early Saxifrage and Hooked-spur (or Early) Violet to start the season.

The last native flower to bloom in our garden is Silky Aster, which is still blooming at the end of October.

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Butterfly bliss: Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) with Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa) in the back. and seeds and leaves of Wild Senna (Cassia hebecarpa) in the foreground.

Butterfly Gardens: Adult butterflies are among the pollinators we are aiming to provide for with our flower-filled pollinator garden. To truly be a butterfly gardener, however, we need to provide the native plants, often highly specific, upon which the young of butterflies, the caterpillars, live and dine. Caterpillar host plants will draw adult butterflies to our gardens, because mama butterflies are seeking good places to lay eggs.

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American Painted Lady caterpillar on Plantain-leaved Pussytoes.

Caterpillar host plants are a diverse lot and include big canopy trees like Hackberries. At Beaux Arbres, we concentrate on Pussytoes and Pearly Everlasting for American Ladies, Golden Alexanders for Black Swallowtails, Showy Tick-trefoil for Eastern Tailed Blues, Bird’s Foot and Hooked Spur Violets for Great Spangled Fritillaries, Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Milkweed for Monarchs, and Turtlehead for Baltimore Checkerspots. We also offer a number of native grasses, which are hosts for tiny green caterpillars which will become diverse Skippers. New for Spring 2018, we will have some young Hop-trees, for caterpillars of Giant Swallowtails which have been moving north into the Ottawa area in the past decade.

Wild Bird Gardens. Songbirds of all kinds raise their nestlings on a diet of caterpillars and sawfly larvae. Very few of the many thousands of caterpillars needed will be the monarchs and swallowtails you and I are eager to help – most will be caterpillars of moths. Now, moths can be lovely creatures, too, but predation is key to keeping them in balance. You may never see, let alone identify, the many kinds of caterpillars that are feeding the baby sparrows and warblers in your neighbourhood, but it is NATIVE vegetation which is feeding the caterpillars. The more we incorporate natives of all kinds, the more our yards will provide food for nestlings.

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Pokeweed

Planting shrubs and perennials with berries to attract adult birds is also rewarding. There are many lovely herbaceous plants for woods and woodland edges which have berries in early autumn. We especially like the shrub-sized Pokeweed and American Spikenard, and the more moderately proportioned Blue Cohosh, False Solomon’s Seal, and Starry False Solomon’s Seal. Last fall, we had a flock of grey catbirds descend on our ripening Pokeweed fruit. Other fruit disappeared more quietly but disappear it did, as migrating birds fuelled themselves for their journey.

Using native vines on existing fences and trellises is way to bring more bird-attracting native fruit to a backyard: American Bittersweet (NOT the invasive look-alike Oriental Bittersweet), Glaucous Honeysuckle, and Canada Moonseed are some to consider.

Nannyberry, Grey Dogwood, and Alternate-leaved Dogwood are large shrubs that can be used in the urban landscape as small trees. We love these handsome native shrubs and have made sure to add them to our garden. In our nursery, we concentrate on smaller shrubs. Our favourite mid-sized shrub, for spring flowers and late season fruits and flaming fall foliage, is Purple Chokecherry, a splendid and under-utilized landscaping choice.

Wild roses are in bloom relatively briefly (compared to garden roses) but offer wonderful fall colour and small red hips (fruit) which last into the winter to feed hungry birds. Last fall, I started a shrub and native grasses border featuring grey dogwood, Virginia pasture rose, switch grass, and little bluestem grass. I am hoping that there will be spectacular fall colour and abundant food for wild birds where there used to be a problem too-dry and hard-to-mow bit of lawn. Now my winter garden planning needs to focus on how I can make this shrubby beginning into an even more diverse and bountiful space for me to enjoy and to share with birds and bees. I need to add some early season flowers and maybe some fruiting ground-covers and …

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Autumn leaf colour of Purple Chokeberry.

Rosa nitida

Shining Rose (Rosa nitida)

What did well in the garden this year

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) loves sogginess in the spring, so it’s no surprise that this was a great year for the tall, red, hummingbird favourite.

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More surprisingly, Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola pedata) was another species that did well this year, This is a violet for sun and infertile, sandy soil. That is what it gets in our rock garden and it generally does well. The extra moisture in the sandy soil this year seemed to help seedlings of this lovely violet get started.

Boreal Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium boreale), from north of the tree-line, did very well this year. This species had had a hard time with us during the dry summer of 2016. I thought the plants were just going to be short-lived so far south of their native range. This year, they flourished in the cool, moist conditions and flowered all summer.

Rock Garden

What did not do well this year: Purple Prairie Clover and Wild Lupin – both flowers in the Pea family which favour warmth and well-drained conditions.

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Wild Lupins in the Rock Garden in 2016.

2017: A Year in Native Plant Gardening

It was wet. We expect the swale garden and the lawn below it to be wet in April and well into May, from snow melt running down from the hills which surround us. This year it was continuously and unrelentingly wet until late July. The swale was continuously full of water, which would be lovely if that is what we had planned, or if that is what we could count on. Some of our wildflowers, selected to be able to cope with a few weeks of standing water in the spring, drowned when subjected to several months of standing water. Even the rock garden (featured photo), planned as a summer-dry garden, was under water for several hours after some of the heaviest downpours.

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We had hoped to burn part of our tall-grass prairie bank in early spring but it was too continuously rainy. Even without the benefits of a spring burn, the bank was showing a nice amount of colour by the beginning of August, in time for the Pontiac Gardens and Gifts Tour.

Some of the swale plants flourished:

 

With all the rain, the tall yellow daisies of late summer were HUGE.

My proudest moment was when the seed-grown Wood Lilies in the rock garden flowered for the first time. They were grown from seed collected in Bristol Township.

Lilium

New endeavour: hypertufa troughs to show off tiny alvar and arctic gems.

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Early Saxifrage, Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue and other small Penstemons in a newly planted hypertufa trough.

I have started propagating some fen and alvar species such as this lovely Grass-of-Parnassus. Their seedlings are tiny – it may be a few seasons before i can offer them for sale.

Parnassus

New in the nursery for 2018: forest floor plants, started from cuttings. I know city gardeners want more native options for shade.

Gaultheria

Wintergreen.

Other new species:

Liatris aspera

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

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Large-flowered Beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus).

We added a hoop house, so we can have more plants in bud for the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale in May. This isn’t intended to be an all-season nor a heated green house. We just want to be about 7 – 10 days ahead of the season for Mothers’ Day.

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I potted up well over than two thousand plants during the summer and tucked them all in for the winter, so we are in good shape to bring lots of native diversity to the spring sales.

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