Oh, gosh! Blue Cohosh?

A wonderfully mysterious plant at the base of a tree stump on our neighbour’s property caught my eye this spring (May, 2021). The stems and new leaves, looking like shredded rags, were a lovely deep purple with a velvety sheen. Amidst the leaves were tiny blue brown flowers, each accented with a mini golden star.…

Red roses

The beauty in, of and from plants

Yesterday, I partially devoured the latest issue of Allure, a glossy magazine devoted to glorious exposés of all things glamorous and how to achieve an approximation of such. I had only thumbed through a couple of pages when I came across an ad for getting “ridiculously glowy skin”. It seems that the miraculous benefits of…

Compact goldenrod

In defence of goldenrod

I was riding shotgun with my guy last weekend. As we were flying down a dirt road, he nodded towards the ditch on his side.  It was clogged with tall leafy plants topped with gazillions of tiny yellow flowers. They’re the reason for my fits of sneezes, he said. A conversation ensued. He was quite…

Sarracenia 5

Into the wild(flowers)

Just as the first wave of blooms in my garden has peaked in late spring, our wildflowers farther to the north are just starting to show. I’m amazed at how many truly strange and wonderful plants grow in Southern Ontario and though they’re not everywhere, you don’t have to trek for miles into the wilderness…

Native plant in bloom

Wild and crazy wild ginger

Wild ginger appears every spring on a moss-covered boulder just outside the door to our cottage on the Bruce Peninsula. It’s a peculiar plant in many ways so I’m pleased but a little surprised to see it showing up at more and more garden centres here in Southern Ontario. If you’re tempted to try some of…

Pods without seeds

Shake, rattle, extol

Fall’s loud and brassy flower show may have packed up and left but nobody bothered to tell the rhythm section. Seed heads of every shape and size are still shaking it up–none more rattlingly satisfying than Baptisia australis, a hardy perennial commonly called Blue false indigo or Blue wild indigo. A native of the Northeastern U.S., this robust…

Back away from the coneflowers

You see them there, looking vaguely sinister in near-black silhouette, projecting explosions of spikiness. So it’s totally understandable that you might want to wade into your garden bed, armed with a sturdy pair of pruners, and give your coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) the big snip. Hey, you’re making the garden tidier and, let’s face it, friendlier…

New England Aster blooms

Aster la vista, baby

When you want to give your garden a brilliant send-off before it slips into winter, asters can supply the fireworks. Looking like mini-daisies in purple, pink or white, they’re easy-to-grow perennials and (bonus!) the best of the bunch is a native wildflower of Ontario–New England Aster (Aster novae-anglia). They’re the tallest of the asters and…

Gentian wildflower

A rare fen in full

Who knew that a fen system, one of the rarest types of ecosystems in the world, can be found on the west coast of the Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario? The Oliphant fen system is, as you might guess, right next door to the tiny hamlet of Oliphant. A fen is a wetland created by fresh…

Photo in Taming Wildflowers

In your garden a little wildness must go

Are you ready to go a little wild in your garden? Miriam Goldberger says there are 60 ways to do it. (Don’t get your rubber hose in a knot quite yet.) We’re talking sixty of her favourite native wildflowers and grasses. She knows what she’s talking about. Miriam is founder and co-owner of Wildflower Farm, a…