Recent Blog Post
Aspen is one of the very best, hardiest, most attractive tree we have available for our landscapes in Southern Alberta – probably all of Alberta… Wait, maybe even Canada …….. or how about North America !! The Aspen (Populus tremuloides ) is our most common overstory tree in the area west of the prairies – so common the eco-region to the north of us is the ‘Aspen Parkland’. It has been around this area since the ice of the last ice age melted. It was more than likely one of the pioneer species to start the revegetation sequence that took place 10,000 years ago. It is still a plant we recommend for reclamation of upland regions. It establishes quickly, forms good soil stabilizer root systems, does not mind the wind – hot and dry or cold and wet and provides good cover for birds and mammals. As the birds roost in the Aspen groves, they deposit the seed from other species that germinates helps to complete an ecosystem.
Aspen form groves – that is their nature, it what they do – it is what they are going to do. In a landscape design, allow for this factor, if you do not,
This is an article I wrote for the Calgary Horticulture Society newsletter ( Calgary Gardening July 2013)
Dwarf Birch ( Betula glandulosa) is one of our best kept secrets. A native shrub that has attractive green shiny leaves, smoky grey winter bark, orange fall colours, great form and a well-behaved nature.
Dwarf Birch have small round blunt leaves with a shiny surface. The leaves are very delicate and lend a fine texture to the plant. The leaves turn a variety of colours in the fall, ranging from orange to light red. This is different from our other birches that turn bright yellow in the fall.
The winter effect is smoky grey outer bark with the older interior wood a deep dark red. The wood is often used in floral arrangements for winter and Christmas decorating. The heavily lenticled wood gives an interesting texture and feel to it. The lenticels are taxonomic for Birch in general, a feature consistent within the species.
Dwarf Birch is one of the few species that has the flexibility to perform well in full sun or partial shade. Because of this feature, the plant looks equally good in a wide variety of sites. The form is upright roughly
The use of local (source identified ) seed and cuttings for use in local landscapes.
Southern Alberta – in all of its sub-eco-zones is a very unique area in which to attempt to grow plants for our landscapes. The area around Calgary, although classified as zone 2, has some particular weather and climate patterns which are unique to the region. The area is on the western edge of the Prairies / Great Plains and on the eastern edge of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This geographic location leaves us with an interesting mix of attributes of the Prairies and the Foothills. We have the dry climate associated with the Prairies with open dry winters, spring rains, long dry periods in the summer and sometimes, but not consistently short periods of moisture in the fall. The plants that have evolved here to cope with this climate are able to withstand heavy frosts and frozen root zones through the winter. The unique aspect to our zones is the short seasons we have as an influence of the Foothills. The traditional Prairie habitat has long warm nights during the summer and a relatively long frost free period between late frosts and early frosts.