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Where to go for Prairie Plants

April 5, 2012

With an early start to the growing season, it’s not too early to consider what you might plant in your backyard or garden. 

There are many advantages to planting native plants – including their ability to adapt and survive our temperamental weather changes, and their benefits for attracting wildlife – like birds and butterflies. Check out the book Naturescape Manitoba for some great ideas of what to plant if creating habitat is one of your goals.

My favourite place to shop for native prairie plants is at Prairie Originals located in the Lockport area.  Unfortunately, it isn’t open for business until May 11th, but it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s offered.  If you’re not familiar with prairie plants, you should check out the reading list that’s on their site.  Some personal favourites of mine are Wild Bergamont, Purple Coneflower, and Giant Hyssop.  There are also a variety of fruit bearing shrubs – like Saskatoons and Wild Plums.  Sweet Flag (Calamus) is also a great aquatic plant with interesting medicinal properties. Most greenhouses in and around the city also carry some native plants, so drop in to one in your neighborhood to see what’s there.

Another great place to visit for plants or to learn more about prairie habitat is the Living Prairie Museum – located just south-west of the NDC campus.  They also have a plant sale in May, plus seeds for many native species available inside the centre.  In addition to regular tours and workshops, they are offering planting workshop in May to coincide with their plant sale.  They also have a lending library on site, so you can pick up a wide range of interesting books for free.

If May seems too far away – don’t worry.  In a few short weeks the Greenspace Management program is having its annual Plant Sale and BBQ –  April 19th from 11:30 – 1:00 – in the new greenhouse complex at the NDC campus. There will be trees, shrubs, perennials, prairies, interiors and a new feature – water garden plants. A slight word of caution though (as noted in the Staff News):

The trees, shrubs, perennials, and prairie plants have been forced into leaf / bloom in the Red River College greenhouse in the fall and winter of 2011-12. The plant material was used to teach plant identification to the Greenspace Management and Landscape Technician students. Experience has shown that this plant material, when planted outside in the spring, will spend the growing season “readjusting” (may have less leaves, vigour, etc.) and then grow  normally the following growing season. Because of the “out of season” forcing of the plants there is no warranty on the plant material, and the price has been significantly reduced.

So come visit Ruth, Gord, and the rest of the Greenspace Management instructional staff and students to support this event and get some great plants for yourself.

Happy Gardening!

Submitted by Mike Krywy, Research and Planning