FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #1 – Grey-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Photo by C Burns

Flowers: Yellow

Height: 35-70” (90 to 180 cm)

Width: 16-40” (40 to 100 cm)

Light: Full Sun

If you’re expecting a subtle grey flower, you’ll be sorely disappointed when you discover Grey-headed Coneflower is actually yellow! Its petals hang beneath its centre so it looks like a dancer when the wind blows. The common name is derived from the flower centre, which is a brown-grey shade until it dries to a lighter grey-brown in the late autumn. The leaves are lance-shaped.

A plains flower, Grey-headed Coneflower prefers well-drained soils with a gritty texture, though it can grow in all textures. It can withstand periods of drought. Deep roots make it good for finding water in the soil profile or for stabilising slopes. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #2 – Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Photo by epa.gov

Flowers: None

Height: 36-60” (100 to 150 cm)

Width: 16-60” (40 to 150 cm)

Light: Full Sun to Part Sun

One of the most unusual grasses we have at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Bottlebrush distinguishes itself with remarkable awns that poke out at almost a 90º angle to its stem. In the morning dew, we find it photographs magically.

Aptly named with a head that looks like a bottle brush, its scientific name is equally apropos whereby ‘hystrix’ means hedgehog. This spiky head is nonetheless very airy in appearance, and its delicacy is nicely contrasted with bushier flowers or other grasses.

Remarkable for its ability to tolerate full sun to filtered light conditions, Bottlebrush can grow in dry to slightly moist soils. In the Backyard Garden, we have it growing by the frog pond and in the central grasses bed. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #3 – Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Photo by northcreeknurseries.com

Flowers: Blue to white

Height: 12-36” (30 to 100 cm)

Width: 8-12” (20 to 30 cm)

Light: Full Sun to Part Sun

Great Lobelia is a member of the Campanula family, hence its pretty, bell-shaped flowers. Profuse in blooming, the flowers are held atop tall, straight plants in clusters beloved by pollinators. Bumblebees and the odd hummingbird are known to enjoy a tipple from this plant!

However, Great Lobelia is also quite pest resistant, so no insect gets much of a snack from its leaves. This is because it contains a chemical compound, lobeline, which is even currently being used in medical research. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #4 – Spreading Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Photo by J Cameron (newhampshirewildflowers.com)

Flowers: White-Pink

Height: 12-36” (30 to 100 cm)

Width: 24-59″ (60-150 cm)

Light: Full Sun to Part Sun

Some native plants have the most unfortunate names that give them an underserved bad rap. Foremost among that group is Spreading Dogbane, which is commonly found in open areas like pastures, woodland edges and roadsides. This is another plant that can thrive in poor, dry soils. It spreads through seed held in little pods, or through its roots – hence the ‘spreading’ part of its moniker.

Dogbane is poisonous for grazers and can make them ill – hence its inclusion on the Ontario weed lists. However, in the home garden it is one of the prettiest native plants around. With its delicate arching form and small, sweetly fragrant bell-shaped pinkish flowers, Dogbane is one of those plants visitors to our garden always inquire about regarding its identity. We have it up against the Interpretation Centre by the parking lot where it does an admirable job of making do with less than ideal circumstances – even surviving periods of drought! Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #5 – Bigleaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: White

Height: 12-35” (30 to 90 cm)

Width: 24-36″ (60-90 cm)

Light: Part Shade to Full Shade

Frequently one of the first asters to bloom, Bigleaf Aster is a forest and edge habitat herbaceous plant. Its flowers have delicate, airy petals surrounding a yellow centre. Unusually, the flowers can also appear as pale purple or violet. Bigleaf Aster begins to flower in July and continues until September. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #6 – Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: White

Height: 12-35” (30 to 90 cm)

Width: 18-35″ (45-90 cm)

Light: Sun

Extremely distinctive, feathery leaves and their fragrance when crushed are the hallmark identifiers for Yarrow. While its white flowers are not very remarkable, the umbel is held above the plant with pride. Blooming from June until August, Yarrow is popular with many pollinators and many of them know it as a reliable source of nectar – Yarrow can be found all over North America, from coast to coast! Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #7 – Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: Yellow

Height: 20-24” (50 to 80 cm)

Width: 12-18″ (30-45 cm)

Light: Sun

With its bright, daisy-like yellow flowers, Lanceleaf Coreopsis is a cheery plant for any garden – and indeed is a stalwart member of most native garden plantings. Blooming with profusion, flowers can be enjoyed from July until September with dead heading. Once it goes to seed, Lanceleaf Coreopsis is a food source for birds seeking a snack. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #8 – Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: Blue with yellow and white

Height: 15-35” (60 to 90 cm)

Width: 4-12″ (10-30 cm)

Light: Sun

Blue can be a difficult colour to source in a native garden, but the beautiful Blue Flag Iris does just that with panache – and it throws in a bit of yellow for flair! A wetland plant, this iris likes moister sites where its roots can be in damp soil. However, we find it does well in regular soil moisture levels, though it does not grow quite as quickly. Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #9 – Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Flowers: Red with yellow

Height: 12-15” (30-60 cm)

Width: 5-10″ (12-24 cm)

Light: Part shade to shade

The biggest issue facing most shade gardeners is how to have more in that garden than the ubiquitous green of hostas, ferns and other leafy plants. Though shade gardeners are fortunate to have so much texture of foliage to work with, everyone loves a spot of brightness! Thus, Wild Columbine comes to the rescue! Continue reading

FWG Plant Sale 2012 Top Ten: #10 – Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

We’re profiling ten plants available at this year’s Native Plant Sale which may be less well-known – but still very lovable! Why not consider adding one of these to your garden?

Obedient Plant

Flowers: Pale purple

Height: 24-48″ (67-122 cm)

Width: 18-36″ (46-91 cm)

Light: Sun to part shade

This purple beauty is the ideal shrub replacement near a basement window or where snow is piled. Unlike a shrub which has woody matter above-ground all year long, Obedient Plant re-grows from its roots each year to around a metre high! Continue reading