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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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Wintergreen.

Other new species:

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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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