May I Introduce: Fringed Sage

Soft, silvery, foliage is a desirable decorative feature in gardens. To augment the bright silver of native Pearly Everlasting and subtle silvery-grey of Parlin’s (Plantain-leaved) Pussytoes, I now offer the silky silver of Fringed Sage. It is much more hardy than the popular but notoriously finicky and short-lived Silver Mound, the standard garden centre offering. Compared to the neat rounded shape of Silver Mound, Fringed Sage (Artemisia frigida) is informal. Indeed, it can look a bit unkempt during flowering. If you want a low, neat effect, trim the flowering stalks as they form in mid-summer to promote attractive silvery bushiness for the autumn garden.

Fringed Sage requires dry, infertile soil and full sun; it does not survive in seasonally wet sites. It prefers an acidic soil. Fringed Sage is technically a sub-shrub, that is, it has a woody base. The woody structure can be pruned lightly to help shape an individual plant. If you have the space, consider growing Fringed Sage in a mass planting, to emphasizes the lovely soft silvery effect. The little bushes are rhizomatous and will, in time, form a ground-covering mat, easily limited by shade from taller neighbours.,

Fringed Sage has a large range in western Canada, extending north into North West Territories and Yukon. It does not occur naturally in the Ottawa Valley. There are a large number of Sage or Sagebrush species native to western Canada but only one native to eastern Canada, Field Sagewort (Artemisia campestris) and it is biennial and not especially decorative.

The flowers of Fringed Sage are wind-pollinated so it is of no interest to pollinators. The aromatic foliage is not eaten by deer or other mammals. On their native prairies, Sages have several specialized insect herbivores. In our area, Field Sagewort is eaten by certain insects, and they may also eat Fringed Sage.

I have not yet tried it, but I read that leaves of Fringed Sage can be burnt on campfires to repel mosquitoes.

Back for 2021: Ozark Sundrops

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.

We’re back at the Market

Beaux Arbres will be back at the Westboro Market for this Saturday, September 12th and the following Saturday, September 19th. The market is around the corner in McKellar Park this summer and Covid19 protocols are in place. You will be able to buy plants from the selection we bring to the market but we encourage you to pre-order for pick-up on the day. I have just prepared a new Plant Availability List for you to download. And we have a Back to the Market Special – see below.

We have had a wonderful response from our understanding customers who have sent us orders for our summer delivery dates and who have come out to the farm. It has been an interesting summer. We are grateful for all your support.

We have run out of some species for the year, including such garden stalwarts as Spike Blazing Star, Nodding Prairie Onion, Wild Bergamot, and White Turtlehead. But there are some new additions that weren’t there earlier in the summer: totally new species such as Downy Wood Mint, returning species such as Purple Clematis, and never-available-in-the-spring-’cause they-are-so-slow-to-get-going species such as Butterfly Milkweed.

Back to the Market Special

Our Prairie Smoke plants are usually $12 for a 4 1/2″ tall pot. Right now we have an abundance of Prairie Smoke in 4″ pots which we will have available at the market at the special price of 4 for $20. This is a great deal on a plant you want to have lots of!

Prairie Smoke in the garden at Beaux Arbres.
casse sauvage

Plant Availability, August 10

Beaux Arbres will be bringing a delivery of prepaid orders to Ottawa on Wednesday, August 19th, to our west-end parking lot in Britannia. If you would like to order native plants, please download our current Plant Availability list, in either PDF or Excel format, contact us with your choices, and we will get back to you by email with details about the pick-up location and payment options.

We are now accepting sturdy nursery pots for re-use. If you have purchased plants from us, we welcome the return of our 4 1/2″ tall or 2 1/2″ black pots or black nursery cans. In fact, because of lock-down and the provincial border closing, we were unable to get to our supplier of pots this spring, and are now very short of 2 1/2″ pots for seeding for next year. We do not use cell packs or other flimsy nursery plastic.

The photo is of Wild Senna.

Plant Availability June 1

Download the latest Plant Availability lists:

I have run out of Golden Alexanders and Anise-hyssop but plants from this year’s seeding will be available later in the summer. I am also out of Ohio Goldenrod. Many customers asked have asked me for Stiff Goldenrod so last year I seeded Stiff Goldenrod, which is a reasonable substitute for Ohio Goldenrod. Wild Columbine is not on this week’s list. The really hot weather last week brought on the little green caterpillars which defoliate Wild Columbine. The plants which recover, and many of them do, will be back on the list in the fall. Losing some of the Columbines is just one of the rigours of growing nursery plants without using pesticides.

Plant Availability, May 24

New plant availabilty List to download in PDF or Xcel formats:


Bowman’s Root plants in the nursery.

Not yet in bloom but looking very good: Bowman’s Root (Gillenia trifoliata) and its close relative American Ipecac (G. stipulata). both have starry white flowers and pretty fall foliage colour. American Ipecac ‘s range is further south and west so I expect it to be more drought-tolerant than Bowman’s Root.

A great companion for Bowman’s root is the lovely Wild Geranium.

Mountain Pussytoes are starting in to bloom. This is a very low Pussytoes with grey-pink flowers, very nice for rock gardens.

Mountain Pussytoes in the Rock Garden.

The two smaller wild Irises are budding nicely, little Dwarf Arctic Iris and mid-size Beach-head Iris.

I am a big fan of Spikenard, an imposing plant for shade with a great fruit display in the fall. They were slow to get going this spring, but are now making up for lost time.

Psst, wanna buy a clematis?

We could meet in a parking lot, wearing masks. Not necessarily at dusk, and I don’t know if I could hide the clematis under my overcoat, but the new retail normal is … odd.

I have one pot of the native Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis) still available of the plants from my original seed collecting. I now have this species established in my garden, but it will be a few years till I have mature plants available for sale again. This is a woodland clematis with large (for a wild clematis) purple flowers in the spring. Native to the Ottawa Valley but not at all common. It is much more restrained in growth than the abundant white-flowered Virgin’s Bower (C. virginiana). The individual plant I have for sale is 4 years old and has abundant flower buds.

I also have two pots of Fremont’s Leather Flower I am willing to sell. I raised 5 plants from seed from the Ontario Rock Garden Society seed exchange. Now, I do like to keep at least 5 plants of unusual species that I hope to collect seed from, but Fremont’s Leather Flower is one of the limestone-loving Clematis. A realistic assessment of the space I might someday have in my yet-to-be-built limestone garden (realistic assessment is a hard task for plant lovers) suggests I am never going to have the space for 5 Fremont’s Leather Flowers. So I am keeping only three.

Fremont’s Leather Flower is a non-vining Clematis from the south-eastern US. it has dangling white or lavender urn-shaped flowers in June on a clumping herbaceous plant about a foot and a half high. In the wild it is found on dolomitic glades and limestone prairies

I Purple Clematis and 2 Fremont’s Leather Flower

Rescued Marsh Marigolds

I noticed some Marsh Marigolds growing in the ditch of the dirt road that runs down the side of the farm. I also knew that the road, which was in rough shape where it slopes down to the creek, was due for some grading from the municipality. So I dug up the clump that was furthest into the road, divided it into four, and potted it up. I should have taken more. Re-visiting after the road work, I notice some of the clumps in the ditch had been uprooted, dragged, and partially covered with gravel. I rescued the roots and potted them.

In the feature photo you can see the original four, in large pots at the back, blooming beautifully. I plan to keep these to collect seeds. The plants in front are in rough shape. A few may recover in time for this year’s sales. Most won’t be salable till next year, if they recover at all.

New Plant Availability List

As promised, I have a new Plant Availability list. That warm weather I was counting upon to bring on a whole lot of new species – didn’t happen. There are a few.

I will be making a delivery to the pick-up point in the west-end of Ottawa on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 13th, with a stop around noon in Arnprior. If you would like order plants for this delivery, please email your orders to us by 5 pm Monday, May 11th. You will have other opportunities – I plan to be delivering again to Ottawa in about 2 weeks. We still have not heard how the Ottawa Farmers’ Markets will be operating this summer.

I am now out of a few species. Early orders took all I had ready of Skunk Cabbage, Pearly Everlasting, and Virginia Waterleaf. Not to worry, there will be more of those available in a few weeks. However, I am out for the season for Wild Ginger. I have had a hard time building up a good supply of Wild Ginger. Folks blessed with the right sort of soil can get a thriving colony of Wild Ginger going and pot up divisions and volunteers, but our poor sand is not really what Wild Ginger wants. It grows in our area, just a mile or two up the road, in an area of slightly richer soil.

Instructions for Ordering Plants

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.