Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting Yours.....

Native plants, that is. What did you think I meant?

At all the big box stores right now, including most of the grocery stores, you will find huge displays of plants for sale.

My favourite groc store surprised me with a rack marked 'Ontario Natives'. Naturally I was right there in seconds.... only to find a very disappointing situation. First of all, the plants were all very small. That wouldn't worry me, but they were all in coir pots, and being so small, they needed to be watered several times a day, which, with seasonal part-time staff trained for 15 minutes, just isn't going to happen.  The pots at the back and on the lower shelves were all bone dry. Already dead. Then, the selection was, to say the least, misleading. There were Trilliums, about 3" tall, labeled 'Trillium Luteum'. Never mind that the 'Luteum' should not be capitalized, T. luteum is not an Ontario native. I also found one labeled 'Trillium Recurvata'. The 'recurvata' should be 'recurvatum'. The language of botany may be an odd-ball Latin, but it does follows the rules of the adjectives matching the noun in form. So if the species name is 'Trillium' , ie, an 'um' ending, the adjective should also end in 'um' or one of its forms. Trillium recurvatum, or Trillia recurvata, not a mixture, please. And please, do not give it the marketing name of 'Purple Trillium', or have a picture of a pink (in other words, fading) T. grandiflorum on the label.

And of course T. recurvatum by any name is not an Ontario native either.

 I did buy one which had a little flower and when I got home and could check in my books, found it was  T. catesbaei. Not an Ontario native. The label in it said 'Jack in the Pulpit'.

All the labels carried the marketing blither about native plants needing less maintenance than non-native species. This is balderdash. Peonies are low maintenance. Astro-turf is low maintenance. My Aunt Fannie is low maintenance. OK, I don't have an Aunt Fannie.... I'd better shut up now, this is turning into a rant.

Instead, hie thyself to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden Native Plants Sale this Saturday. There will be all kinds of native plants, a few donated, some offered by independent small nurseries that specialize in native plants, and many more grown by the volunteers at the Fletcher. They will all be correctly labeled, and carefully grown and cared for. Best of all, the volunteers (and the nursery people) will all be eager to answer your questions about any of the plants. Get there early, and bring a box or two to carry your treasures home in.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you SO very much for posting this! I was at a local garden center last year and was also drawn in by the Ontario Natives - not being as well educated, I grabbed myself a "purple trillium" having never seen anything like it's image on the tag. I'm pretty certain it died on the shelf, but it was on sale and I thought I'd place it in my patch of whites and reds. I like to properly identify my plants though and since then I had struggled to google search a purple trillium and began to suspect I had been had. Glad to have this information on what it REALLY is :)