Many of these include native prairie plants.

Joe Pye Weed

Who was Joe Pye?

Joe Pye Weed.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

His story is shrouded in mystery. According to botanical authorities he may have been an Indigenous healer active in 18th—or possibly 19th—century New England, or possibly both time periods! Hal Borland, journalist and naturalist, called him a “yarb man,” (a folk doctor) who used the plant that now bears his name to cure people of fevers, particularly those arising from typhus. Genealogists have found records for a Joseph Pye who lived in the 18th century—and this may be the Joe Pye who cured fevers. In any case, his name lives on in association with the fragrant late summer wildflowers that attract butterflies and other insect life.

Gaillardia

Gaillardia.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

The Gaillardia is sometimes called Blanket Flower. This name may derive the way its rich and warm flower colours and patterns resemble those blankets woven by Native Americans. It may also refer to the way wild gaillardia form colonies that blanket the ground. The plant’s seedheads are beloved by Goldfinches and other seed-eating birds.

Giant Hyssop

Giant Hyssop.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

There are several Biblical references to hyssop (for example, Exodus 12:22, Psalms 51:7). It is known as the “holy herb” and is used for cleansing sacred spaces. The name itself is of Greek origin, adapted from azob (a holy herb). Its fragrance is used in the production of Chartreuse, Benedictine, and other liqueurs. It is often planted as a companion to cabbage (to deter the cabbage moth) and grapes.

Swamp Milkweed (Butterfly Weed)

Swamp Milkweed.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

The only host plant for Monarch Butterfly caterpillars. The plant’s milky white sap contains bitter chemicals that protect it from predators, and make the Monarch caterpillars unappetizing to birds and other predators.

Sweet Flag

Sweet Flag.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

Noted for its spicy lemony fragrance, the Sweet Flag used has been used in basket weaving by the Indigenous people of North America and as a “strewing herb” by Europeans in the Middle Ages. Strewing herbs were laid on the floors of public places: footsteps would bruise the plant, release the fragrance and mask the smell of unwashed bodies.  Sliced roots were used to protect furs and woolens.

It is a Cantonese New Year’s custom to place plant’s sword-shaped leaves near the door. Left beneath the leaves would be a pair of red scrolls with an inscription such as “The Sweet Flag, like the sword, destroys a thousand evil influences.” The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries, Taoists held that it had to power to bestow immortality.

Turtlehead

(also known as balmony, bitter herb, codhead, fish mouth, shellflower, snakehead, snake mouth and turtle bloom)
Turtlehead.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

This plant has clearly captured people’s imagination: its botanical name, Chelone glabra, refers to a nymph in Greek mythology, Chelone,  who insulted the gods; as punishment she was turned into turtle. The flowers are said to look like the heads of turtles (or snakes, cod, fish, and even shells!) Glabra is from the Latin word meaning ‘smooth’, because of the lack of hairs or texture on stems or leaves.

Solomon’s Seal

Solomon’s Seal.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre.

Named after King Solomon, the Hebrew King, who was granted great wisdom by his God and a special seal that he used to aid him in such practices as the commanding of demons. According to the Song of Solomon (8:6) he placed the seal upon this plant once he had recognized its special value. Those with imagination can see the seal in the circular scars left on the plant’s rootstock when it dies back. The plant, whose flowers look a little like dangling pairs of ballerina slippers, has many medicinal uses in many cultures.

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich Fern.
Courtesy Minnesota Wildflowers, credit Katy Chayka. Click image to enlarge.

The fern’s tightly wound immature fronds, called fiddleheads, are used as a cooked vegetable, and are a delicacy, not only in North America but also in Japan where they are known as Kogomi.

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

Although human eyes see the flower as uniformly yellow, its petal tips reflect ultra-violet light, while the petal bases absorb it. This creates patterns seen by pollinating insects which can detect ultraviolet light, and direct them to the nectar source.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

The Bleeding Heart is a flower that looks like its given name.  The blooms resemble a classical cartoon heart with drops of blood falling out of it. In Japanese folklore a spurned prince killed himself by sword when a lovely maiden rejected his gifts, which are represented by different petals from the flower. In American and British culture, the Bleeding Heart has passionate associations and is often exchanged as a symbol of true love. Some religious groups choose to plant the flower as a reminder of compassion for the suffering of others. It can also represent people who share their emotions freely and wear their heart on their sleeve.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping Flox.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

A cultivated variety of Moss Phlox, this wild flower is a native to prairie, alpine, and tundra regions. Its Latin name, phlox Hoodii Richard, honors Richard Hood, an officer-in-training on Sir John Franklin’s first expedition in search of the Northwest Passage (1819–22).  He was the expedition’s primary surveyor, draughtsman, and map-maker, as well as botanist, ornithologist, and illustrator.

Closed or Bottle Gentian

Bottle Gentian.
Courtesy Minnesota Wildflowers, credit Katy Chayka. Click image to enlarge.

The name of this unusual woodland flower is derived from the fact that its petals never open. Mature flowers look like large buds.  Although these flowers are a rich source of pollen and nectar, most insect pollinators are not able to get inside. The plant is pollinated almost exclusively by large bumble bees that are strong enough to force the petals open and crawl inside. This is mutually beneficial: the bees have exclusive access to a rich nectar source, and the plants benefit by attracting “loyal” pollinators, improving the chances of cross pollination

False Sunflower

False Sunflower.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

Commonly called ox-eye, this perennial plant always turn its flower heads to follow the movement of the sun through the sky.

Hosta

Hosta.
Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

This ornamental shade plant is appreciated for its foliage rather than its flowers.

Day Lily

Day Lily. Photo courtesy Shelmerdine Garden Centre. Click image to enlarge.

The plant’s Greek name Hemerocallis translates as Day Beauty. Each flower opens in the morning and fades by evening. As there are many buds on one stem, this provides is a successions of daily blooms.

Many of these plants are cultivars. A cultivar is a variety of a native plant that has been created intentionally and maintained through cultivation.