New website for Beaux Arbres

We have created a new website (still under construction) for the Beaux Arbres Native Plants Nursery, with our own domain name. For information on hours, events at the nursery and plant lists, we invite you to visit Beaux Arbres Native Plants at beauxarbres.ca

I will continue to blog about native plants and other botanical subjects here at botanicalartstalk.wordpress.com.

New species at Beaux Arbres

Beaux Arbres has three new species of wildflower are ready to take to the Old Chelsea Farmers’ Market on Thursday: Ohio Goldenrod (Solidago ohioensis), Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariaefolia) and Rattlesnake Master (Eryngium yuccifolium).

Ohio Goldenrod is a well-behaved flat-topped goldenrod for full sun. Goldenrods are a hard sell, in part because of the silly myth that goldenrod pollen causes hay-fever – anyone who has ever seen goldenrod in flowers has also seen the pollen-heavy bees working it and knows goldenrod is not wind-pollinated – and in part because of the totally deserved reputation of some species for being garden thugs. Not all the goldenrod species are aggressive and many are excellent garden plants for late season colour. Our other favourite goldenrod is the lovely Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia). a delightful flower for light shade. (We’ll be bringing some of those to market, too.)

Rattlesnake Master is native to the American tall-grass prairie and is a weird and wonderful addition to our gardens. It has spiky globular flowers in sprays. In fact, it is a tall prairie form of sea holly. And that makes it an unusual member of the carrot/dill family, and a host plant for caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies. I like sprays of the flowers in bouquets. They are not colourful but they do contribute dramatic texture.

On a related note, cuttings of Twinflower (Linnaea borealis) I started earlier in the summer have rooted well and in fact have put forth some out-of-season flowers. I had always heard that Twinflowers were fragrant and growing them in pots allowed me to experience their sweet almond-like fragrance close up. This is a totally delightful little creeping ground-cover for acidic shade. I expect I will have them ready for the Rare and Unusual Sale next May.

Linnaeus boreale

Gentians for Sale

I have been growing some gentians in pots for a few years and they have now come into bloom, lovely gentian blue bloom, but they are not what I thought they were. I got the seed from a member seed-exchange and mix-ups happen. In fact, mislabelled seed occasionally happens even when purchasing seeds from reputable seed vendors.

So, my summer-flowering gentians are probably the European species Gentiana dahurica or Dahurian gentian, a species with a reputation of being relatively easy in gardens. They sure look like the pictures on the internet. I do not usually sell non-native species but these are much too nice to compost. I already have an European species, Willow Gentian, in my woodland garden and I like it a lot, but I don’t really have any place for Dahurian Gentians. So I am offering them for sale, at a somewhat reduced price. If you would like some blooming-sized Dahurian (maybe, probably) Gentians, Beaux Arbres Native Plants has them.

Change of Venue on Earth Day

There has been a change of venue for the Ontario Horticultural Society District 2 AGM on Earth Day, April 22. The new venue is:

Rankin Culture and Recreation Centre, 20 Rankin Road, Pembroke

Beaux Arbres Native Plants will be a vendor in their marketplace. We are still hoping to have the earliest of the spring plants for sale. The weather has not been encouraging but the forecast for the rest of the week gives me hope. We will also be bringing seeds and perhaps some crafts.

N.B. Pre-registration is required to attend this event.

 

 

 

More on native plants for meadows

I had a grand time at the Nepean Horticultural Society on Thursday, talking about wildflower meadows. One of the best parts of the evening was the questions after my talk. Some great, thoughtful, questions came from the audience – thanks to all who asked.

(I am a bit slow getting to this. The cold I was fending off all week, so that I could give the talk Thursday evening, exacted vengeance on Friday and through the weekend.)

One of the most remarked upon parts of my talk was the illustration of the depths of roots of various prairie plants and wildflowers. I thought I would put up this illustration, from Conservation Research Institute, 1995, to give everyone another look at this phenomenon.

screen-shot-2013-05-09-at-5-10-38-am

The botany prof who first drew all these wonderful root systems, whose name I couldn’t recall, was a Dr Weaver, of the University of Nebraska, and he is the subject of a fine blog post in the blog Gardenhistorygirl. I urge you to click through to see some astonishing botanical illustration work.

Prairie plants root systems sequester carbon in the soil as they build organic matter in topsoil. I mentioned this briefly in my talk. The Guardian newspaper recently published an article on how farming practices affect the amount of carbon in the soil: Our best shot at cooling the planet might be right under our feet. Imagine the difference in carbon sequestration between a field growing little bluestem as a perennial hay, and, say, industrial corn. You may not be in a position to seed an hundred acres in little bluestem, but you may want to be part of the solution by doing your little bit, creating a small meadow of native grasses and flowers where you can, in your yard or at your church or school.

Also, while you are here, take a look at the roots of Cylindric Blazing Star, second from the right. Wow! Cylindric Blazing Star is a little thing, no bigger than a petunia plant, and its roots go down 15 feet.