Aspen – one of the better choices

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


Dwarf Birch – a well behaved native

This is an article I wrote for the Calgary Horticulture Society newsletter ( Calgary Gardening July 2013)

Dwarf Birch

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


Cool Summer Nights and Seed Sources

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


Happy New Season

We are entering our new season soon – if / when the weather permits. This season is a very important milestone for us and Bow Point Nursery and hopefully all of the people we have influenced. This is our 25th season – hard to believe, but true.  From hay-field to forest in a relatively short period of time – and really , 25 years is a short period of time from – or so it seems, otherwise, it wouldn’t have gone by so quickly. There have been lots of learning , lots of trials, lots of failures, lots of efforts, and lots of fun in developing the nursery. It started as a concept of providing better quality plants grown in a more sustainable method. As time went by the native seed source plants are the ones which grew , thrived and survived the best and most predictably. The focus changed


Why we don’t post our price list

We do hear about the fact that we don’t post our prices. There are several reasons we don’t have the price list on the web site. The main reason is we firmly believe plant choices should be quality based as opposed to price based. We can not and have no desire to compete with the box stores on pricing. It is easy to compete with garden centres, box stores, hardware stores, or grocery stores on quality. Ask any of those who offer plants for sale about their seed sources – and you will be met with blank stares. Ask us about our seed source and you will be overwhelmed with the stories about seed collecting, growing seedlings and testing a multitude of plants within the nursery – all of our plants have a history, whether you want to


Why We Plant Trees – an excerpt from ‘The Book of Trees’

From ‘The Book of Trees’, Alfred C. Hottes, 1932

Why We Plant Trees

  1. We plant trees because we love them. Some trees linger in our memories as old friends, from whose branches we have swung and “skinned-the-cat”; under whose cool shade we have rested from play or work.  Some trees seem to have moods, changing from day to day, season to season, and from youth to old age.
  2. We plant trees for their beauty of leaf, whether green in Summer or red in the Autumn; for the delicate tracery of the branches which frame our view of the eternal blue or star-scattered heavens; for their flowers which seem like giant nosegays.
  3. We plant trees to shelter our homes from the Summer sun and the cold sweeping winds of Winter.
  4. We enjoy a touch of Nature to form a background and a frame for our architecture.
  5. We plant trees to furnish leaf cloisters for the

    Got any Specials ?

    This time of year we hear this comment too often – What is on sale ?, What is special?, What can I buy cheap?

    One thing you can always be sure of is that everything is ‘Special’.  If you buy quality plants (or really any item you purchase) , you probably expect to pay more than a lower quality – how does that go again? ‘You get what you pay for’. This rings true for everything – from bolts to tools to landscape plants. I always say, if you can afford to be cheap, then do so – buy the cheap item – and buy often. Buy quality and buy once – this is most important in the purchase of plants – buy a better plant, and your landscape starts to grow sooner – more consistently. In Alberta, every year is valuable – we have short growing seasons and have to


    How late can I plant?

    Often times we start hearing that question – of course the corny answer would be – you can plant until dark, unless you have lights, then you can plant later.

    The true and direct answer should be – You can plant until freeze-up. We are planting in our fields now – we just lined out 1000 seedlings. The myth of spring planting started many years ago when plants were only available as bare-root, before the containerizing and container growing technology was started. As with most new technologies, the residual effect of the previous methods carry over into the new technology – and becomes either accepted practice or long standing myths. This has happened with tree and shrub planting – and perennials – the perception is that spring is the best and only time to plant.

    Let’s think about this for a moment, spring might not be the best planting time – is


    Rain Day Field Trip

    Yesterday on a cold rainy day we decided to head up to Jura Canyon on one of our botanic plant identification, locate and photo tours. We are always on the search for new and different seed sources for plants as well as to check out the overall habitats and the potential for seed collection when the seed is ripe. I like to take the crew with me as an educational aspect as well – those who work with plants , grow the plants and chase the weeds for us are better informed about those plants if they get the opportunity to see them in their native habitats.  All of those working with us this year are very keen on learning – plants, growing, habitats and how all of our plants work together to form these dynamic landscapes – those we design and build and those that nature has provided for


    Help – the Poplars are coming to get me

    Here is an often heard question: Will the poplars wreck my foundation? I really don’t know how somebody can really think a poplar tree can break through you basement wall. Let’s think about that.  They can grow in rock, but I have never seen a poplar root go through a rock – which would have to happen in order for a root to penetrate a basement wall. When I was young (a long time ago) we lived in an old house with a sandstone basement – the house had been built around 1890 – in a time when concrete was not a common element for basement construction. Our house was surrounded by old Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides), some that were four foot in diameter. If there was a situation in which a poplar could or would break into a basement,