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.
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.
Just a reminder that I will be at the Nepean Horticultural Society on Thursday evening, talking about the procedures we used to make the three native plant meadow areas at Beaux Arbres. I’ll be showing lots of pics of summer wildflowers to cheer us up during this unpleasantly cold spell in March.
Making a Wildflower Meadow
by Trish Murphy of Beaux Arbres Native Plants
for the Nepean Horticultural Society
Cityview United Church, 6 Epworth Ave., Nepean ON
Thursday, March 16th 2017, 7:30 pm
All are welcome.
The Ontario Horticultural Society, District 2 AGM is being held this year in Cobden, almost just across the river from our farm in Bristol. It will be featuring talks on native plants and a talk by the always entertaining naturalist, Michael Runtz.
We couldn’t resist signing up to be a vendor at their marketplace. Although I have no idea whether we will have any plants ready to sell, if seemed a grand opportunity to reach some of the most enthusiastic and committed gardeners in eastern Ontario.
So, let us hope for some fine warm spring weather in the weeks before Earth Day, April 22nd. With luck, the earliest plants will at least have sent out a few leaves. We don’t have any heated greenhouses to force plants ahead of their season, so what we get is what the season brings. It does mean that nothing we sell needs to be hardened off before being planted in your garden.
If you live in the Cobden, Beachburg, Renfrew, Douglas, Eganville area, and you are interested in gardening and not yet a member of a Horticultural Society, now would be a fine time to join, to participate in what is going to be a fine AGM. Pre-registration is required to attend the event.
Celebrate Earth Day in Eganville
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Hosted by the Eganville & Area Horticultural Society
Opeongo High School, 1990 Cobden Rd. (between Eganville & Cobden)
Rankin Cultural and Recreation Centre, 20 Rankin Road, Pembroke
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is at its best in autumn when the slanting autumn light burnishes its warm coppery colour and catches the small but fluffy white awns on the seeds. This clump of little bluestem is growing in a perennial bed with clumps of evergreen foliage of alumroot (Heuchera spp.) and prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) and the deep scarlet basal leaves of foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis).