We had something to pick up in Wilno and a delivery to make to Killaloe, so we made a little holiday of it, a break from the nursery, having a nice picnic at Golden Lake, and lovely walk in a bit of publicly accessible alvar at the Fourth Chute.
Here are some photos of some spring wildflowers growing in their alvar habitat in the Ottawa Valley. The featured photo above is Small Skullcap (Scutellaria parvula). All these little known wildflowers are truly lovely additions to sunny rock gardens, especially if the garden is built with limestone rocks (or marble or dolomite or urbanite* – all calcium carbonate rocks).
I am really looking forward to the Friends of the Farm Sale tomorrow. It will be the first plant sale Beaux Arbres has participated in in two years. (We did manage one Farmers’ Market last July and two in September of 2020.) We have a wonderful array of plants to bring to the sale – a mixture of spring flowers and some summer-flowering plants that have emerged in the recent heat.
It has been a challenge getting the plants organized in this extreme heat and some of the early species I had hoped to have in full bloom have already passed their peak. Prairie Crocus is long over but we are bringing some plants to the sale anyway. This incredibly early beauty is a great addition to any sunny rock garden.
A species I am very proud to be able to offer is the lovely little Early Buttercup. It has taken two years to get these small plants up to salable size. The seed is originally from the local Ottawa Valley population of this alvar specialist plant. We are not on limestone at Beaux Arbres so I have planted what will be my stock plants for future seeds in a hypertufa trough with limestone mulch to mimic their alvar home.
Everyone gardening with butterflies in mind wants to know when the milkweeds will be available. Milkweeds are real heat-lovers and are always slow to emerge in the spring. I do have some nice pots of Whorled Milkweed to bring to the sale tomorrow. This low-growing species from south-western Ontario is not the showiest in flower but it is very attractive to Monarchs looking for a place to lay their eggs. We expect to be bringing some Dwarf Milkweed (seed from Manitoba) to the Westboro Farmers’ Market next Saturday.
The forecast for this Sunday is rain and possible thunderstorm. The weather gods must know we are bringing prepaid orders in cardboard boxes. Some folks who ordered from us last year will remember the soggy muddle of our first rainy delivery day last May. Honestly, I should start charging a fee to farmers – putting plant orders into cardboard boxes seems to be the most effective rain dance ever devised.
Beaux Arbres Native Plants has a new Plant Availability List out. We will be bringing pre-paid orders to our regular Britannia area parking lot on Thursday, July 8th, and then, on Monday, July 12th, we will be bringing plants to an address in Navan. Both days the plant order distribution will be in the afternoon, from 4 to 7:30 pm. We expect folks have plans on summer weekends, hence the weekday dates, but we don’t expect our east-end customers to fight the rush hour traffic across town, especially with all the road construction, so we are trying out the new address in Navan. (Order Plants)
Customers who come to the farm have often picked up some species which hasn’t made it on to the Availability List because I only have one or two of them in stock. This spring, one lucky customer happened to ask about Hobblebush on the very day I decided that I would never have room for all three of my precious Hobblebushes, so she left with a pot of seed-grown local genotype Hobblebush. Yes, children, that actually happened. So for this issue of the Plant Availability List, I start the list with some of the oddments and singular items that wouldn’t usually make it on. The larger shrubs are things I have grown for our own landscaping and I have been selling off the extras. Once, say, the last Grey Dogwood is gone, it probably won’t be on the list again. The herbaceous items are just things I happen to be low on.
I should point out that the Pearly Everlasting is available with or without resident American Lady Caterpillars, while supplies last. And while we are talking about caterpillars, the Butterfly Milkweed is not yet big enough to include on the list, but it will be on a list coming out soon. They are coming along nicely but not yet ready to plant out.
I have a couple of new things for the Rock Garden: Showy Jacob’s Ladder and Littleflower Penstemon. Not locally native at all, just little cuties from the Rocky Mountains.
Oh, and yes, that Glaucous Honeysuckle vine that I have been promising will be ready any week now — it is ready now and is on the list. Everybody should consider planting a Glaucous Honeysuckle: not too big, two seasons of interest with flowers and fruit, and a host plant for the caterpillars of the charming Hummingbird Clearwing Moths. What’s not to love?
Although Ozark Sundrops has absolutely no claim to be native to the Ottawa Valley, this startlingly large flowered species from central US is such a garden-worthy beauty, from time to time we include it in our offerings at Beaux Arbres. The flowers can be 8 cm across on a plant only about 20 cm tall
Ozark Sundrops’s lax stems sprawl just a bit, forming a low cushion, growing from a single tap-rooted crown, so it is never overwhelming. It wants well-drained, lean, neutral soil, and full sun. It does not compete against taller aggressive neighbours. A large sunny rock garden is ideal.
Ozark Sundrops is pollinated by large sphinx moths. Night-flying sphinx moths are not colourful but they are large and attractively patterned in white and cream and grey and brown. They are not attracted to lights, so spending a warm summer evening monitoring a stand of pale-flowered wildflowers, such as Ozark Sundrops, is the best way to monitor which sphinx moths are visiting your garden.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.