I got up early on Saturday morning to make it up to Pepinière Jasmin, where I can always find some native/indigenous plants, even at the end of the planting season. One of the native plant suppliers was Aiglon Indigo.

I got the following plants for the garden and the walls of my house:

Pulmonaria saccharata “Mrs. Moon”  common name:  Bethlehem Sage. I had one of these in a planter; it needs to be in the ground or else the freeze will kill it.

Trichophorum alpinum – Alpine bulrush, a sedge grass, for a small cement planter for the bright and sometimes-dry front of the house. It will never grow to this height in the planter as the roots will be too shallow. However, I’m starting it in the planter anyway, and then finding a place for it.

Tiarella cordifolia – Foam Flower – takes full shade and does not grow too high, and will spread 1-2 feet, so I got two to fill a corner in my back yard, where precious else will grow as tree roots interfere.

Aralia racemosa – American Spikenard – this is for a lark, as the plant is teeny tiny right now, and in dormancy, but could end up towering 5 feet — if it likes my backyard, it will also spread five feet. If it also thrives, I have a second location to transplant it to back there.

Mitchella repens – Partridge berry. I have such high hopes for this tiny little vine. I bought 8 of them, and as they like acid soil, they’ve been planted behind my pond under the cedar where almost everything goes to die. I’ve amended the soil with a bag of forest compost and a bag of earth; I also planted an additional two ferns there (two existing ferns struggle but survive).

Parthenocissus tricuspidata “Veitchii” – Boston ivy – not native, and not from Boston! However, it spreads on walls in rows of leaves, filling out the wall nicely, and I have some already growing on the back wall adjacent to the climbing hydrangea. I want to replace the Virginia Creeper, which grows in ropes that tend to detach from walls, on the wall of the garage that faces the sun. There’s ample room – like 10m^2 – for it to spread. But I can’t plant it yet because I would have to tear down the Virginia Creeper just before it gets to the best part: the brilliant crimson it makes in fall.

The Virginia creeper that adorns my home, that you see so prominently in my photographs, has been here for 6 years, and is ropey and all the way to the top of the eavestrough. I trimmed it a lot the past year to stop its spread across the house and the soffits, but spread is what Virginia creeper will do, which makes it great to start out a green wall or use when you have a large expanse of wall, especially if you are willing to “tutor” it. But if you don’t, when it gets heavy, it will detach and hang. It also sends out shoots and will grow all over anything it can spread to. I’m going to have a hard time digging it out this fall! So I decided to replace it with…

Hydrangea anom. petiolaris – Climbing hydrangea. Not native. Climbing hydrangea grows upward more so than outward, and it looks like it will create boughs that support birds as well as its own flowers. It’s a slower grower than Virginia Creeper and Boston Ivy, and it clings well. I think it will nicely fill in the rough brickwork of the front of my home, without any overgrowth effects.

Finally, I was given six ferns, Matteaucia struthiopteris, known as ostrich fern, fiddlehead fern, or shuttlecock fern. Two of these were not-dying, as mentioned above, where now there are four. The other four are along my fence in a mostly-shady spot now.

To plant the above natives in the backyard, we removed an impressive amount of biomass, considering it all comes from the soil and the air, in the form of the highly invasive Impatiens glandulifera – Policeman’s Bonnet (Himalayan Balsam) and a few other fast-spreading plants.  The Policeman’s Bonnet is a gorgeous flower and it hurt just a tiny bit to take it away, because the bumblebees loved it so much, I could see up to 5 bees at a time visiting the flowers. However, just like a bunch of volunteer squash plants had done the year before, it crowded out all the native plants I had planted. Bloodroot, Robertson’s Geranium, and several others I had planted: all gone. At least the Creeping Jenny and the hostas and a little apple tree survived the  onslaught. The backyard is back to looking bare again, but with a lot of watering and top-dressing, it should have another 3 – 4 weeks of growth before going dormant for the winter.  I bought a seeping hose (this was a tardy idea) to connect to my water barrel so that the perimeter of my garden should have water whenever I open the spigot – and doing so during a rain shower will send more water to the garden when the barrel would otherwise overflow to the drain.

Then we (my guest helper and I) had a backyard barbecue, listening to the choir sing in the Oliver Jones tribute taking place at that time on the neighbouring Workman Street. It had been a six-hour day of work for me, so I followed that with a much-needed nap. I’ve been gardening ever since.


Also published on Medium.