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.
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.
Beaux Arbres will be opening the 2017 gardening season at Almonte Seedy Saturday on February 11th. We will have many species of wildflower seeds – dozens of easy-to-grow flowers for beautiful pollinator and butterfly gardens.
New this year are our starter seed packs for native meadows, based on the adaptable native bunch grass, Little Buestem, plus five quick-to-mature meadow flowers.
In March, we will be doing a back-to-back Seedy Saturday and Sunday. In Ottawa for Saturday March 4th and in Perth for Sunday March 5th.
Our silly, top-heavy Spike Blazing Stars in 4″ pots keep blowing over and diving onto the lawn, where they will sometimes be chewed on by our resident groundhog. I could transfer them into larger pots, but what they really want is to be planted in the ground in your garden. This has prompted me to offer them at a 2 for 1 sale to our customers.
Spike Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) is a wildflower in south-western Ontario, where it is found in sunny prairie sites, often where there is a high water table for part of the year. In the US, they are sometimes called Marsh Blazing Star, reflecting their wild preference for dampish sites. In gardens, however they are very adaptable to drier conditions, and in fact are quite tolerant of droughty spells in summer. They are completely hardy in western Quebec. In fact, these very plants that are on sale spent last winter in their overly small pots and I did not lose a single one to winter kill. (Lost a couple to having their roots eaten by voles, a fate to which Liatris are susceptible.)
Blazing Star flowers are very attractive to butterflies and other nectar seeking insects. They belong in every sunny wildflower garden. Spike Blazing Stars are the middling, mama bear member of the clan. At about three feet tall, they are taller than little Cylindric Blazing Star, and shorter than the imposing Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya).
We will be bringing a flat of Spike Blazing Stars, budding nicely and ready to bloom, to the Marché Bristol Market on Friday afternoon and to the Pontiac Farmers Market in Shawville on Saturday morning. Just in case anyone has room for the stunning 5 to 6 foot tall Prairie Blazing Star, I’ll bring one of those (in a gallon pot) to market as well.
I have some little seedlings of another Blazing Star, Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera) growing in the greenhouse presently. Rough Blazing Star is happier in drier sites and is probably my favourite for the pretty silvery button effect the buds make before they open. They are not fast off the mark as seedlings so they may not be ready for sale until next spring.
Top photo: A wild stand of Spike Blazing Star in a nature reserve near Windsor, Ontario.