Posts Tagged ‘native garden plants’


Ontario native plants

In recent years, interest in native plants has grown among gardeners, and there has been a corresponding rise in the availability of plants that were once hard to find. Even ephemeral parking lot nurseries feature racks of native plants from columbine to jack-in-the-pulpits. What a boon for those wishing to develop native gardens.

On their Wildlife Friendly Gardening website, linked here, the Canadian Wildlife Federation makes these points and more:

Regionally native plants are those that have grown wild in your area for many centuries. They have co-evolved with, and are therefore adapted to, the local environment and wildlife. Though many of today’s popular garden plants are imported, native plants are making a comeback for a host of good reasons:

Native plants require less maintenance. When planted in a spot that mimics their natural habitat – in terms of lighting, soil or moisture, they typically thrive with less or no need for fertilizer and watering than other plants.

Native plants are less susceptible to disease and pests, having co-evolved with their local environment.

Regionally native plants provide valuable food sources and shelter for the wildlife around them. Many domestic flowers have been bred for showiness and may have lost much of their nectar and pollen producing capacity.

Some wildlife species are entirely dependent on the availability of certain native plants. By choosing plants native to your region you help your local wildlife thrive, let alone survive.

When I visited this garden centre, I was surprised to see that some of the local wildlife couldn’t wait for gardeners to take the plants home. An American Robin had constructed a nest right in the centre of the plants! Mom was very brave, and sat tight even as shoppers walked by the stand within a foot of her. Her mate made forays to the nest to bring her meals. From her neatly hidden nest, she watched me carefully as I took her photograph from a distance. Here she is.


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Here’s Remy, sitting by the Giant Maiden Grass (Miscanthus giganteus). Remy is about 18 inches tall. The Giant Maiden Grass is 9 feet! In June, the garden is dominated by the Giant Fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorphus), which I wrote about in a post entitled Another Summer in the Garden, linked here. But by July, it has been overtaken by other high-risers now hitting their stride. Foremost amongst these is this huge grass, and it isn’t done yet. It has its seed stalks to top off its nine feet still to come. I purchased this grass in the fall of 2010, so this is just its second summer in the garden. You can see how it looked that first fall in my post Tucked Into Bed. It’s sure come a long way since then!


Just down from the Giant Maiden Grass is this Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum). It’s a native of eastern North America. It is topping out this year at 7 1/2 feet as it starts blooming. The large leaves are fused in pairs with the leaf opposite, embracing the interesting square stalk, giving the impression of the plant stalk perforating the leaves. The leaves form a little cup that captures rain water and gives the plant its common name.


Coming in at a mere 6 feet, the Giant Coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima) falls far short of some of its neighbours, but it is a very cool plant. When I first saw this rudbeckia, a member of the black-eyed susan family, in a nursery, I thought it had been mislabelled. It sure doesn’t look like other black-eyed susans.


Its large, glaucous leaves are nothing like typical rudbeckia leaves. Maxima is native to the southern states, but has so far been hardy here in Eastern Ontario. This is its third year in the garden. It’s flowers, held high on long, stately stems, are quite attractive. This one has attracted a little white crab spider.


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