A few more species added to the seed list


I have added the following species to Seeds 2014/2015 catalogue (PDF):

  • Northern Pitcher Plant  – wild collected in Nova Scotia
  • Indian Tobacco – wild collected in Pontiac Region, Quebec
  • Buttonbush – wild collected in Pontiac Region, Quebec
  • Ninebark – wild collected in Pontiac Region, Quebec

Buttonbush is a wonderful native shrub for the edge of a pond or other damp spot. The globular flower clusters bloom in summer and are extremely attractive to all sorts of pollinating insects. They are also attractive to hummingbirds even though they are not red. The little birds will quickly and systematically move around the flower clusters, visiting each small tubular flower. Buttonbush flowers earlier in the summer than cardinal flower or jewelweed – classic hummingbird flowers. If you are hoping to have hummers breed in or around your garden, it is important to plant to supply blooms for the whole of the summer. The buttonbush seed I am offering was wild collected at Knox Landing, on the edge of the Ottawa River.

I am also offering Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata) even though it is a not-showy annual species. While I was being shown around the wonderful Meditation Garden of the Unitarian Church in Westboro by its creator and main gardener, Renee De Vry, I spotted some plants that had been torn down, nearly to the ground. “Oh, that was great blue lobelia. It keeps getting stolen,” she said, with some exasperation. “Why would anyone steal great blue lobelia?” I wondered. I knew that desirable little alpine cushions and expensive Japanese maples get stolen from public gardens, but I couldn’t fathom why anyone would steal a plant that was easy from seed and widely available.

“They think it is Indian tobacco.” she said.

So I went on-line and found out that Indian tobacco does have some legit herbal uses but the effective dose is not that much lower than the toxic dose and it is not something that, personally, I think people should be experimenting with. Especially if their botanical skill are such that they cannot tell great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), one of our most distinctive wildflowers, from Indian tobacco (L. inflata). However, if Indian tobacco is what is wanted, I would much rather they buy seeds from me than they vandalize a public garden.

Great blue lobelia in the garden at Beaux Arbres.
Great blue lobelia in the garden at Beaux Arbres.

At the Herbfest 2014, last summer, I could have sold any amount of sweet grass, had I had any for sale, and several folks asked me if I carried white sage, as well as inquiring about Indian tobacco. I am obviously not up on what is trending in herbs. I brought several species of native dye plants — wild indigo, false indigo and pokeweed — and found nobody was interested. I did sell some pokeweed plants – to someone who knew it was a handsome landscape species.



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Trish Murphy

Artist: botanical, still life, and natural history illustration. Garden designer: native plants and naturalistic gardens