Thursday, June 05, 2008

When in Rome

Last Saturday My Beloved and I went to the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario to visit a tiny little nursery that specializes in native plants.

Because, I suppose, Christmas is so far away and we need another outlet for obsession (pornaments being unavailable at this time of year), we've become fully engrossed in the idea of creating a native garden in our backyard.

Aside from being cool and a very interesting challenge, it kind of makes ecological sense. European plants aren't meant for Canadian soil. Oh, they do okay (and Lord knows I have a LOT of favourites planted in and around our house), but they didn't develop here and they require a lot of poking and prodding and special attention to keep them thriving.

Native plants, so the theory goes, don't. And there are some really interesting ones out there.

They're a little simpler than showy European flowers (and by simpler I mean weedy looking in some cases) but there's something very satisfying about taking on the challenge of reintroducing native plants to a landscape that has been virtually stripped of them in favour of more exotic fare.

I came home with a Bristly Buttercup, a clump of Sweetgrass, a wild Geranium and a Bergamot.

It was largely a fact-finding mission, but after seeing rows of lovingly tended native plants I couldn't leave without a few favourites. I bought as many as I had cash to purchase (they don't take credit or debit).

The owner was so kind and helpful, and spent a lot of time answering our questions and offering advice.

The setting was idyllic, and the distant rumble of the thunderstorm that engulfed us on our way home somehow made it a mystical and soul-soothing experience. There's nothing quite like the smell of a storm on its way - or the heady scent of hundreds of small plants nestled in pots of native soil.

I loved every second of it. And we're going back as soon as we have a better plan for our native garden.

If you live in the area - or within day tripping distance - it's absolutely worth taking the pretty drive along the 403 into Brantford to check out Sweetgrass Gardens


delphi said...

Thank you for the link! I book-marked it immediately. If I ever travel that far east, I will have to try to visit them.

B said...


I have done the same thing. European plants definately are not suitable to our drought prone environment and require watering beyond what is morally OK (environmentally speaking).

And I have to say I am well pleased. Again, it requires the imagination to see the beauty in small dark purple berries and fluffy odd shaped things rather than the hyberbolic beauty of traditional European plants.

Enjoy making somethig beautiful and new.

kate said...

I love this idea, and that would be my choice if i lived in a more difficult climate. I wish more people would be open-minded about it. (my father's wife is forever trying to grow tea roses in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, drives me batty. Even when they live they look totally out of place.)

Is Bergamot the same thing as Monarda? I have always thought this but not been sure. If so, it can be very invasive but the butterflies love it.

I look forward to pics!