Thursday, April 05, 2012

Beauties in the backyard - Part1

sheep laurel and moss colour swatches

Whenever I get the chance to walk through Ontario woods in the spring, I marvel at the wild ginger and the trout lilies and the bloodroot. "Ontario has such cool native plants!" I think, "not like the boring, normal plants that grow in the scrubby balsam/sprucewoods around my house." Then I think, this is crazy! They are only boring because I know them. When I look at the same plants with different eyes -- say, of a landscape designer looking for uncommonly used plants, or perhaps with the sort of spiritual elation that L.M. Montgomery viewed the exact same kind of woods -- I start to reclaim the "ecological aesthetic" of my childhood.

So, I have been thinking lately about some of these plants that grow in the coastal Acadian forest woods that I grew up with, that I subsequently took totally for granted.  For instance, sheep laurel/lamb-kill. I love coming across a happy hillock of sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) when it is in bloom. It's such a little trooper and native pollinators love it.  If I could get moss this colour to establish under it, I would plant it in my garden in heart beat. So, that's what I'm going to attempt this summer, and that is the point of this little blog project; take a second look at the native plants I take for granted, and think of ways I can use them in gardens or larger landscape projects.

sheep laurel macro


Stephen said...

We too are fond of kalmias are lucky to have lamb kill growing along the edge of our property above Halifax Harbour. It provided guidance on where to plant kalmia latifolia (which is starting to do Ok along a nearby edge).

Lea said...

Happy Easter!
Lea's Menagerie

Stew said...

Sarah, you've made me homesick for both Ontario and Nova Scotia! Working with PPP put a lot of native NS plants into my heart.

Here in Regina I'm starting to work on a project to introduce prairie wildflowers along the city's expressways. It's in the infancy stages right now, but I'm hopeful to have native planting introduced within 3- 5 years.

Sarah O. said...

Thanks for the comments!

Stephen, interesting to hear about the K. latifolia. There are a number of more southerly eastern forest species that I would like to try out, like Carolina spicebush, too.

Stewart! The wildflower expressway project sounds like so much fun. There's a student in the year below me studying prairie species establishment on slopes. Interesting stuff! I think I read a news article a few years ago that talked about how the verges along some of Britain's motorways have become home to significant populations of native plants that are becoming much rarer everywhere else.