The Prescott Journal - November 19, 2003
By Astrid Strader, Project Supervisor, Horticulturist, and Garden Designer
Christmas is in the air we've been involved with getting lights and decorations up downtown and finishing off the parkette on the old Daniels' Hotel lot. The buzz is in the air Santa is coming to town this Friday and we're excited to be putting our own float together for this year's special 50th anniversary of the annual Light Up the Night Santa Claus Parade.
We've done all we can for the front of the municipal building this year. It is definitely not finished but with all the rain we've had, our plants will be better able to survive the transplant. You're probably wondering what has been planted there? I can visualize the finished look but certainly appreciate that, right now however, it is looking rather poorly.
Seeing that the building was built in 1930, I set out to research plants and gardens of that time. Among others, I came across a wonderful book called Early Canadian Gardening, by Eileen Woodhead, published by McGill-Queen's University Press. In the end, I came up with a planting scheme, which you could call heritage and native an example of garden plants from Eastern Ontario from 1900 to 1935.
I found it interesting that at the turn of the century there was a movement happening to green our urban centres. Sounds strange for lush Ontario? But industrialization wiped out trees and plants from our urban centres and people were getting sick of the barren, harsh effects of this physically and emotionally.
Many of the beautiful native flowers and shrubs, which were not known to the European settlers, started to be favoured. Still, there were plants from the homeland that were peoples' favourites and they would become a part of the garden too.
We dug up natives from the Mac Johnson Nursery: highbush cranberry, silverberry, red osier dogwood, and serviceberry. We bought more from the Ferguson Forest Centre: pagoda dogwood, silky dogwood, june berry, red elderberry, nannyberry, mugo pine, and chokecherry. Others we included: pyramid cedars, shrub rose, fragrant sumac, hazelnut, meadowsweet and jonquils (sweet daffodils).
One of the greatest discoveries was the Old Field Habitat Garden and Wildflower Nursery, in Oxford Station. Here, native plant enthusiast Philip Fry supplied us with helianthus, tiarella, mitella, red and white trilliums, monarda, bloodroot, pearly everlasting, hollyhocks, sanguisorba, burnet, culvers roots, solidago, St. John's wort, and columbine Canadensis. I can't wait until I see the trilliums glow in the spring. Did you know it takes seven years from seed for a trillium to bloom?
We thank the generosity of Sue Hiltz, Prescott Blossoms supervisor, for donating heliopsis and purple coneflower.
Oasis Gardens (my own) donated nursery stock: purple iris, everlasting peas, phlox, orris root, lemon balm, violets, rose campion, ribbon grass, hemerocallis, lily of the valley, peonies, chives, sage, hyssop, artemisia absythium, malva and larkspur.
All the plants, except evergreens, are dormant for the winter now but it won't take long come May when the whole garden frontage of the municipal building will spring to life maybe that's why it's called spring?