May I Introduce: Downy Skullcap

While active outdoor gardening is on pause, this is a good time to introduce some wildflowers which may not be known to most gardeners in the Ottawa area.

These flowers may be unfamiliar because they are not native to the the Ottawa Valley, but hail from further south in the USA, as does today’s species, or, perhaps, from the tall-grass remnants from the extreme south west corner of Ontario. Species which are not locally native are obviously not appropriate for ecological restorations. But for gardens? There are arguments for and against restricting your gardening choices to locally native species, which we will leave to another day.

Another reason wildflowers may be unfamiliar to gardeners is that they are confined to highly specific habitats such as alvars or fens. Or they may be diminutive and easily overlooked until they are brought into cultivation in rock gardens and troughs.

Scutellaria

Downy Skullcap (Scutellaria incana)

Downy Skullcap, a fine border plant from the eastern USA, contributes nice blue colour and distinctive flower shape to the late summer garden. The summer leaves are edged with dark purple. Purplish pigments suffuse the leaves in the autumn.

Downy Skullcap autumn foliage.

Some other Skullcap species do occur in the Ottawa area: Marsh Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata), the curiously named Mad-Dog Skullcap (S. lateriflora), also found in damp areas, and the diminutive (S. parvula) , which grows on alvars, including Ottawa’s Burnt Lands alvar. They all have blue flowers with the distinctive skullcap shape. Closely related, Downy Skullcap is suitable, in showiness and in size and in growing requirements, for a place in a perennial border.

Stocking Stuffers for Gardeners on your List

We have packaged a selection of seeds from some of our showiest flowers in time for holiday gift giving. They will be available for sale at the $100 and Under Sale of the West Carlton Art Society in Carp this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The seeds are sharing a table with Michael’s hand-crafted baskets. If the gardeners you know would prefer to get plants*, we have Gift Certificates available, redeemable for nursery stock and other Beaux Arbres items.

The $100 and Under Sale is rather small but full of good stuff from local artists. It is happening almost next door to the much larger Carp Christmas Market. Plan to visit both to find the locally crafted gifts you’ll want to give this Christmas.

*Hey, they are gardeners. Of course they want to get more plants.

September Highlights

Rock Pink

Rock Pink (Talinum calycinum) has been in bloom for weeks and it just got better and better, as long as the warm weather lasted. I love the bright magenta of the flowers against the natural greys of the rocks and stone mulch. I hope it proves to be hardy, here in western Quebec, but even as an annual it is worth growing for mid to late summer colour in the rock garden. Small bees love the flowers.

Ironweed

A useful contrast to all the tall yellow daisies, the bright saturated purple of ironweed (Vernonia sp.) glows in the autumn sunshine. This plant is tall and rugged.

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Ironweed and Switch Grass.

Tall Sunflower

Of the many tall yellow daisies for late summer and early autumn, my favourite is Tall Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus). It can be very tall – to 3 metres. That’s a plus. If you are going to do tall, do it! Even small gardens have lots of room in the vertical direction. Tall Sunflowers flowers are a lovely clear yellow and the purple stems are a nice contrast. On warm afternoons the plants hum from the volume of pollinators. After the flowers fade, the seeds are relished by goldfinches.

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Heart-leaved Aster

Now, I warn customers that pretty Heart-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) is a pushy native that spreads, but let’s face it: most gardens have spots where a tough, pushy plant is just the thing. We have an ancient clump of common lilacs, as do most old farmyards. The lilacs are fragrant and lovely and visited by Canadian Swallowtail Butterflies, for about a week in the spring, and then, for the rest of the summer, they are a big, boring green lump with no fall colour. Heart-leaved Asters are willing to grow in the dry root-filled conditions under the lilacs and bloom in a beautiful pale blue ruff at their feet. Like other asters, they are important for late-season pollinators.

Closed Gentian

Daisy-form flowers dominate late-season wildflower gardens. Native plants with distinctive and unusual flower shapes are always interesting and even more welcome when they bloom in the fall. This is a white-flowered garden selection of the native Closed Gentian (Gentiana clausa).

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Small-flowered Sundrops

It is difficult to convey in a photo the great charm of Small-flowered Sundrops (Oenothera perennis). I was heartened recently when some discerning customers at the nursery made a bee-line to it.

Compared to the enormous luminous flowers of Ozark Sundrops (Oenothera macrocarpa), or the great flower masses of citrine yellow of Common Sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa), the flowers of Small-flowered Sundrops are indeed small. However, in a wildflower setting, where its companions might be Hairy Beardtongue or Long-leaved Bluets, the Pointillism-like effect of small dots of brilliant yellow is exactly right.

Beaux Arbres’s stock of Small-flowered Sundrops is from locally-sourced seeds. The plant makes small mound as wide as it tall, studded with brilliant yellow flowers in early summer. The fall foliage is a vivid red. The plant is more tolerant of light shade than you might expect from an Oenothera, sometimes found in open glades in woods.

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Small-flowered Sundrops placed beside Ozark Sundrops in the nursery, to contrast the flower sizes. 

Thanks to all our FWG customers!

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.

 

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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lis de Philadelphie

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