Not a native plant (but it sure looked like one)

When Gail of Clay and Limestone reminded me about her upcoming Wildflower Wednesday meme, I got all excited. I’d been saving the shot above for a post with the working title “lesser-known native plants.” Trouble is, the more I looked, the more I saw it isn’t the plant I’d thought it was (Uvularia grandiflora or merrybells) – though at […]

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Little bluestem, a great native grass

Sometimes you can know of a plant without really knowing it. You hear the name often, but wouldn’t be able to pick out the face in the crowd – or in the garden. That’s how it used to be for me with the native grass called little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). Then I saw this display garden in […]

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Pros and cons of fragrant sumac

While camping at The Pinery provincial park a few years ago, I took the green picture below, curious about the shrub. It had “leaves of three,” similar to poison ivy (formerly known as Rhus radicans, now Toxicodendron radicans syn. T. rydbergii) But those berries, if that’s what they were! Fuzzy, kind of like a staghorn sumac (Rhus typina). Turns out […]

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Almost-wordless ex-aster appreciation

New-world asters aren’t Aster anymore. They are, among other things, Symphyotrichum as in Symphyotrichum novae-angliae or New England aster. Because these new-ish names are a bit of a mouthful, I prefer the term used (and perhaps created) by my friend Gail of Clay and Limestone: Ex-asters. It’s for Gail’s Wildflower Wednesday that I post this almost-wordless […]

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Enormous hardy hibiscus is not a pest

The first time I saw hardy hibiscus or swamp mallow flowers (Hibiscus moscheutos), it almost caused whiplash. Mine. We were driving through St-Laurent on Ile d’Orleans near Quebec City when I spied what looked like a tropical hibiscus. Only the flower was huge. HU-U-U-UGE. What the heck, I thought, this is Zone 4B (Canadian Zone 4B!), for […]

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Dotty over Monarda punctata, spotted beebalm

Ah, common names! Here’s a plant with many: spotted or dotted mint, spotted or dotted beebalm, horsemint and spotted horsemint (and possibly even dotted horsemint), for example, all with the botanical name Monarda punctata. No, it doesn’t look like your typical monarda, does it? Whatever you call it, you can call it great for native bees. Pollinators […]

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Bring me all your Virginia bluebells

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), looking lust-afterable in a Beach garden Virginia bluebells are native North American spring ephemerals and they’re just fabulous – in any garden but mine. Wish my shady garden had the moisture they need to be as happy as they are here. You want them, too. You know you do. Mobot tells […]

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Giving myself a big bunch of bee balm

A bee’s-eye view of scarlet bee balm, Monarda didyma I need cheering up, after nearly ten days of being seriously under the weather. What could be cheerier than the bold blast of colour that comes from our native North American bee balm (Monarda spp.) and its hybrid cousins – many of which are blooming right […]

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Plant profile: Echinacea, a cornicopia of coneflowers

I’d call this a jubilation of purple (and not-so-purple) purple coneflowers (Echinacea), wouldn’t you? From mid-July into September, purple coneflowers (Echinacea) are among the bright stars of the garden. Long-lasting and fairly easy to grow, on well-drained soil in full sun or light to part shade, they are a great flower for beginning gardeners. What’s […]

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Idea file: Four unusual native flowering shrubs

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) in the Westview Terrace at the Toronto Botanical Garden What is a native plant? We weighed in on this complex discussion – or argument – in 2011. Let’s just say that the four lesser-known flowering shrubs in this Friday’s Idea File are native to North America. All are hardy in Toronto’s […]

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Wordless Wednesday: Catalpa trees

  Campanula and Veronicastrum against the golden leaves of Calalpa bignonoiodes ‘Aurea’, VanDusen Botanical Garden The same garden from beneath the fretwork of the branches A basketload of May/June blooms on the species of this North American native tree Now, in close-up And from a distance in an east-end Toronto parkette Helen and Sarah and […]

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