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

I will continue to blog about native plants and other botanical subjects here at

Gift Certificates

There is still time to get a Beaux Arbres Gift Certificate for the native plant gardeners on your lists (and all those keen gardeners you know whom you would like to nudge toward native plant gardening).

The Gift Certificates can be redeemed for plants, seeds, miscellaneous thingies, and garden consultation services. You can use them at the farm, at the Ottawa sales, and at Seedy Saturdays.

We send the certificates out by snail mail, so don’t wait too long. You can send a cheque to our WINTER address (below) or, faster, send an e-transfer to the Beaux Arbres email address: Any denomination – you set the amount (in whole dollars). Remember to send us your postal address and the recipient’s name.

Coming in 2018: Hypertufa Troughs.

Winter address: 507-415 Greenview Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K2B 8G5

Hypertufa troughs & native plants

Beaux Arbres is now closed for the season. I am collecting and packaging seeds and having fun with hypertufa troughs.

The little rectangular trough, pictured above, was one of my first efforts. It features a lump of fossilized coral and five little plants: early saxifrage, dwarf hairy beardtongue, Penstemon nitidus, Penstemon pinifolius, and a little thing from last year, which lost its label over the winter but which might be a Draba.

The only species which is native to the Ottawa Valley is the Early Saxifrage (Micranthes virginiensis). The Penstemons, an entirely North American genus, have the centre of their diversity further west, in the Rockies, and those western Penstemons are much too lovely to ignore. I wouldn’t plan my garden around them, but as little gems to try in a trough garden, they are fascinating. The small alpine species are said to require excellent drainage to be hardy in the east, which is why I have planted them in the hypertufa.

I have several other little plants I want to grow in troughs, both to provide excellent drainage and so they don’t get lost, swamped by larger neighbours. I have some seedling Silene acaulis, some other little pots which I know contain an Arctic Draba, and some dwarf Arctic Irises, all thanks to the Ontario Rock Garden and Hardy Plant Society’s super-excellent seed exchange. I also have some tiny plants from our north woods, which want cool peaty soil and shade: twinflower, creeping snowberry, and common wood sorrel, which deserve their own specialized container. I might want to create a trough garden for fen conditions – saturated, marl-bottom, and full sun — to grow Grass-of Parnassus and perhaps some carnivorous sundews. It’s an addiction. Once you start adding trough gardens, it is impossible to stop. I’ll be patting hypertufa mix into box forms until the snow flies.

Looking ahead to next year: Beaux Arbres will be participating again in Seedy Saturdays in the Ottawa area next spring. We will also be bringing seed cards to some Christmas craft fairs. (Native plant seeds make excellent stocking stuffers for gardeners – just saying.) We will keep you posted on this blog…

This is NOT a groundhog sarcophagus. It is a larger hypertufa trough, still curing. I have many more little plants to grow in troughs.

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.