Hypertufa Workshop

The first part of our two-day hypertufa workshop produced some fine small bowls and troughs.

If you didn’t participate in the first half, you can still come to the planting workshop on Sunday, September 27th. Purchase one or more of the troughs I have made up and have on hand, and plant up your troughs with little arctic or alvar cuties. I will have an assortment of planting media, grit, clay, stone mulch and thin rocks for creating crevices. Four plants — easy, hardy stalwarts all — are included for each trough, and I have other plants to chose from.

The cost for the one day workshop is $65. Troughs are priced individually by size – $25 to $50.

Participants limited to 8. The location is at Beaux Arbres, 29 Ragged Chute Bristol , Quebec. (Map) Register by contacting me via the form below:

Not the FoF Mothers’ Day Sale

These are some of the plant I would have been bringing to the Friends of the Farm Mothers Day Sale on Sunday. They are the best looking bunch of plants I have had in the six years since Beaux Arbres first attended the sale.

However, I can bring them into Ottawa for you next week. We are aiming for Wednesday, May 13th, to bring prepaid orders to a west-end Ottawa parking lot.

Eastern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Rocky Mountain Columbine (Aquilegia saximontana)
Bird’s Eye Primrose and Dwarf Canadian Primrose
Common Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)
Siskiyou Lewisia (Lewisia cotyledon)
Eastern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
Pussytoes with some volunteer Common Bluets
Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)

Some other species that are looking especially fine in bud but with flowers not yet open: Wild Geranium, Wild Eastern Columbine and its dwarf form ‘Little Lanterns’, Dwarf Mountain Fleabane, Early Meadow-rue, Foam Flower.

Pics from the Hoop House

We do not have a heated greenhouse. The hoop house gives a little advance on the season and a nice working environment on sunny days, but nights are still pretty cold. We are grateful for small indications of spring. Last year, spring was so dismal through April, even tiny Arctic flowers such as the little yellow Drabas seem impressive to us now.

Draba aizoides (L) and Draba paysonii (R)

I saw this lovely little alpine Jacob’s Ladder from the Rocky Mountains in the Alpine Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden and was happy to acquire some seed from the Ontario Rock Garden Society Seed Exchange. I now have three in our Rock Garden – they seem to have come through the winter – and three in the hoop house. They are not that easy to keep in pots through the summer as they don’t want to be too wet but you mustn’t let them get too dry either. I lost a few last August. They seem sturdier once they are planted into a well-drained site in the rock garden. I am going to build up stock of this little charmer and will probably be able to offer it for sale August of 2021.

Showy Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrima)
Showy Joacob’s ladder in the Alpine Garden, MBG.
Dwarf Canadian Primrose starting to extend flower stalks.
Eastern Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)

Our Shooting Stars are looking great this year. I’ll post lots more pictures when they are in full glorious bloom. This species goes dormant by August. I hope you won’t forget about them ’cause we may not be able to deliver to Ottawa until some time in the summer.

New Seeds in time for Christmas

Beaux Arbres’ wildflower seeds will be on sale at the $100 and Under Christmas Sale in Carp this weekend — a chance to pick up some little gifts for the gardeners on your list, and an advance look at some special species new for 2020.

For the first time we are have seeds of the lovely native vining Clematis called Purple Clematis (C. occidentalis). This pretty plant with relatively large nodding mauve flowers grows in woods in the Ottawa Valley but it much less well-known than the white-flowered Virgin’s Bower (C. virginiana). Purple Clematis is rather a wispy thing in the wild, and it is in bloom for only a short period in the spring. In your garden, give it a bit more sun, with much less competition than it struggles with in the woods, feature it on an attractive tuteur or trellis, and it wii reward you with an abundance of bloom. You cannot expect Purple Clematis, a wild species, to rebloom throughout the season, the way fancy modern hybrid clematis do, but lovely swirly seed heads will follow the spring blooms.

The seeds of Purple Clematis need a period of warm-moist stratification, to complete their ripening, before they get their cold-moist stratification. If you want grow this species from seed, get seeds now, before Christmas, to allow you the time to condition your seeds for germination next spring.

We are offering seeds of another very special species clematis: Sugar Bowls (Clematis hirsutissima var. scottii) (featured image). This little gem from the American Rocky Mountains, has no claim to be native to eastern Canada, it’s just super cute. Sugar Bowls is a small, non-vining herbaceous clematis with deep blue urn-shaped flowers, perfect for a sunny rock garden. It too needs a period of warm-moist prior to a period of cold-moist to germinate. Sugar Bowls is so slow to mature — mine took five years to get to blooming size — you won’t find it at the local garden centre.

Three very choice species for which we now offer seeds:

  • Canada Milk-vetch (Astragalus canadensis)
  • Clustered Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe triangulata)
  • Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifoliata)

Clustered Poppy Mallow is another slow-to-mature species that you won’t find at the garden centre. It’s bright purple-pink flowers are a delight in the late summer garden but it you want it in your garden, patience is required. Like many of the choicest prairie flowers, it spends its energies in its early years making a deep, very drought-resistant root system. Once the plants are well-established, they bloom and bloom for weeks in mid- to late summer.

Clustered Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe triangulata)

Some new seeds I haven’t yet packaged will be available at Ottawa Seedy Saturday in March. Look out for:

  • White Camas (Anticlea elegans, formerly Zigadenus glauca)
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
White Camas (Anticlea elegans) in front of Butterfly Milkweed.

West Carleton Arts Society’s 5th annual $100 and Under Show and Sale

St. Paul’s United Church, 3760 Carp Rd., Carp, Ontario

Friday December 6: 2:00-8:00 pm
Saturday December 7: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday December 8: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

primevère du lac Mistassini

May I Introduce: Dwarf Canadian Primrose

My first encounter with this charming little native primrose was on the wave swept shore of Lake Huron, on the Bruce Peninsula, where limestone pavements shelve incrementally down to the water’s edge. Nestled in tiny, moist cracks in the limestone, never far from the spray, were some small pink flowers with yellow centres, Primula mistassinica. I have since encountered this plant in other locations in eastern Canada, almost anywhere there is damp limestone, such as in seepage areas on limestone cliffs. Primula mistassinica is named for Lake Mistassini, the largest lake in Québec.

Limestone coast of Lake Huron.

Brought into the garden, this little primrose flourishes and has many more flowers in each cluster. The buds form the previous year, visible but nestled deep in the basal rosette of leaves, and ready to bloom very early in spring. This is a charming little plant for a damp spot in a rock garden or a trough.

Dwarf Canadian Primrose
Dwarf Canadian Primrose growing in a seep on a limestone cliff.

When I initially encountered Primula mistassinica, I called it Bird’s Eye Primrose. I have since learned that that name is perhaps better reserved for a very similar species, with a slightly more eastern distribution, Primula laurentiana, and P. mistassinica should be called Dwarf Canadian Primrose, although getting folks, including me, to alter the common names they learned in childhood is not an easy task. From their written description, I find it difficult to know exactly how the species differ. I decided the thing to do would be to grow them side by side. I was able to acquire some wild-collected Bird’s Eye Primrose seed, from the Ontario Rock Garden Society Seed Exchange, in 2018. The little P. laurentiana seedlings have not yet bloomed for me, and, honestly, did not look that different from P. mistassinica for most of the summer. However, by November, there were some differences apparent: Bird’s Eye Primroses have fewer and broader leaves and they are less persistently evergreen, as we can see in the photo below. Both plants have buds in their centres, ready for next spring’s early bloom.

Bird’s Eye Primrose (left) and Dwarf Canadian Primrose (right).
vergerette à feuilles segmentées

Spring Visit to Alpine Garden, MBG

Remembering a visit to the Montreal Botanical Garden, May, 2018.

DSC_0837
Beaux Arbres will have Shooting Star (Dodecatheon) for sale in the spring.
fullsizeoutput_304
Rock Whitlow-grass at the Montreal Botanical Garden
DSC_0863
Eastern Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

The Alpine Garden at MBG is divided into areas planted with species from different regions of the world. I was delighted to discover that there was an eastern North America section and that it was planted with many of the species I have been promoting for rock gardens.

DSC_0873
Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

Beaux Arbres has offered Prairie Smoke for several years and it is always a popular choice.

A wonderfully showy flower in the South American section, Sisyrinchium striatum or Pale Yellow-eyed Grass is related to our native Blue-eyed Grasses. I was amazed to find this plant from Chile and Argentina growing in Montreal (Zone 5B)l. I started a flat of this species from seed — easy to do — and we’ll see how it does in our Zone 4B garden.

Pale Yellow-eyed Grass in the Montreal Botanical Garden.

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.

fullsizeoutput_3fc.jpeg

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.

IMG_1294

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).

IMG_1370

 

 

Miniature Crevice Garden

This hypertufa trough, planted only weeks ago, is doing remarkably well. I used a technique I read about in the North American Rock Garden Society quarterly, and sandwiched  a thick clay mud between vertical slabs. One would think that the little Erigeron pinnatisectus or Feather-leaf Fleabane, perched at the top, would not have had a hope of surviving, but this is a plant of steep slopes and high ledges, and it seems to be thriving. Let’s see how this little garden survives the winter.

Talinum: a pretty, hardy succulent

The long, blistering-hot dry period we just went through proved the garden value of a pretty, hardy succulent from the American mid-west. Rock Pink (Talinum calycinum) is a member of a genus which includes some summer-rain-intolerant species from the Rockies, collectively called Fame Flowers.

We are growing Rock Pink for the first time this year. It produces lovely vivid purple pink flowers on long wiry stalks, above the succulent green foliage. The flowers do not open until noon, last only one day, but are continuously replaced by new blooms.

Rock Pink’s home range is Texas to Illinois. William Cullina of the New England Wildflower Society, who is usually a pretty reliable authority, says the plant is hardy in Zone 4 if given excellent winter drainage. A south-facing rock garden would be an ideal home for this plant, in the north. We have recently planted several in groups of five and seven or more in our newly expanded rock garden. With the flowers a bit on the wispy side, they seem to call out for planting in groups. We need some vivid colour and we can certainly use a plant which loves heat in our summer garden. It is visited by bees. fullsizeoutput_3e4

Beaux Arbres has this plant for sale in the nursery, if you would like to give it a try. I cannot absolutely guarantee it will be winter-hardy but it is both charming and easy to raise from seed. It might even spread a bit by volunteer seedlings.