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.


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.


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


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.


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



Other new species:

Liatris aspera

Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)

Penstemon grandiflorus

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.


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.

nursery pots

Native Plants for Rock Gardens

Charming and diminutive plants from Ottawa Valley’s natural rock gardens

Species from slide show, in order shown
Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis)
Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis)
Common Bluets (Houstonia carulia)
Long-leaved Bluets (Houstonia longifolia)
Hairy Beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus)
Dwarf Hairy Beardtongue (P. hirsutus var. pygmaeus)
Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
Hooked-spur or Early Violet (Viola adunca)
Bird’sfoot Violet (Viola pedata)
Eastern Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum)
White Camas (Ziggy) (Zigadenus glauca or Anticlea elegans ssp. glaucus)
Upland White Aster (Solidago ptarmicoides)
Three-toothed Cinquefoil (Sibbaldiopsis tridentata)
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassus glauca)
Sticky False Asphodel (Tofieldia glutinosa)
Carnivorous Plants: Pitcher Plant, Sundew, Bladderwort
Dwarf Canadian Primrose (Primula mistassinica)
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Spring Ephemerals: Spring Beauty /Trout Lily /Toothwort
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadensis)
Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)
Broad-leaved Sedge (Carex platyphylla)
Carex eburnea
Trailing Arbutus (Epigea repens)
Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
Creeping Snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula)
Common Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana)
Gaywings (Polygala paucifolia)
Tall Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)


Why Use Native Plants


Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy
Doug Tallamy – Earth Optimism Summit 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky5e4lPmA0U

Talk on Native Rock Garden Plants


Saturday, November 11th, 1pm

for the Ottawa Valley Rock Garden Society

Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill Avenue, Ottawa

Trish will be showcasing some of the diminutive and charming wild flowers which are native to the local alvars, barrens and rocky slopes, many of which she is propagating at Beaux Arbres. If you do not already know them (and even if you do), come out and meet Early Saxifrage, Hooked-Spur Violet, Long-leaved Bluet, Wood Sorrel, and many others.

early saxifrage

Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis)

Featured photo of Trish in her rock garden: Deborah Powell