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Quebec - A Wild Flower Garden

( Originally Published 1907 )



WHEN the idea of a wild flower garden first suggested itself to us we went to the text book of Nature for advice as to how we should make it, and where it ought properly to be placed to secure the best results. The great majority of our native Quebec flowering plants love the shade, moisture, and rich mould of the woods, but again there are some of the more beautiful forms that bask in the sunshine of the open fields. To combine all the requisite conditions required a careful inspection of our available spots. We finally hit upon the shade of a great spreading white pine, which seemed to offer a sufficient shelter on its north, from the sun, while the south side received a sufficiency of sunshine to give the field flowers every chance to develop. For a space of twenty feet around the trunk of the tree the earth was roughly broken with a grub hoe. We then spread some old and well-rotted leafmould to a depth of six inches, and trod it well down. Our garden was now complete and ready to receive its first occupants. If successful with them our scheme embraced at least two specimens of all our local flora, and here I might mention the fact, that the flora about Quebec is exceedingly rich and varied. In a single morning's collecting tour we have brought in as many as forty varieties of wild flowers. For our garden our search for plants began early in May. The equipment for the field was too good sized grape baskets and an ordinary gardener's trowel. Hepaticas, spring beauties, sanguinarias and dog-toothed violets, ginger root and trilliums, both purple and white, while yet in flower, were first experimented with. They were dug with as little disturbance to roots as possible, and as quickly as circumstances permitted they were transferred to' their new home, the mould carefully and well pressed about the roots, and then well watered. For several days the watering was repeated, when we observed with much plea-sure that every plant was well taken, and in some instances new flowers were opening. There was now no doubt as to the success of our venture and we rapidly added variety after variety. In every instance when care was exercised, and a proper situation was selected for the plant, followed by copious waterings, it throve. Wood ferns were finally included in our collection, and a large patch of the delicate native maiden-hair became quite a delightful feature of the garden. In one of our most distant search expeditions we secured some plants of the trailing arbutus, together with a box of its native sand. We mixed some of this sand through the leaf mould, and the plants were set out in the mixture. This experience was a doubtful one at best, but we are proud to here record the fact that we saved one plant, and it is now alive after four years, and each spring it has four or five clusters of its fragrant flowers. Many botanists have asserted that the arbutus would not bear transplanting. We have even brought some of our riverside flowers to a fair degree of perfection, such as the saxifrage beach pea, and marsh marigold. Almost all our native orchids, and we have some very lovely forms, have flourished in our garden at one time or another. We have had as many as fifteen or twenty varieties of wild flowers in bloom at once, and the display made was exceedingly beautiful. It has occurred to us that were the devotees to wild flower gathering to form themselves into little parties once a week for a wild flower hunt at some of the various points within comfortable distance from Quebec, a most enjoyable outing might be had combined with a wealth of new knowledge, and a glorious collection of flowers made wherewith to decorate the home. Such an expedition might take the form of an out-door picnic with a luncheon brought in baskets to serve in turn to carry back the wild flowers gathered. The flora in the vicinity of Quebec is singularly rich both in beautiful forms and species, and late May and early June are the most prolific periods. The spring flowers, however, unlike their bolder sisters of early autumn the asters and golden-rods, are a modest and re-tiring lot and rarely flaunt their beauty along the roadsides, yet well within sight and sound of the highway are to be found the great majority of the more beautiful forms. We have gathered in a short walk forty distinct varieties, the whole forming a bouquet that would have graced an Empress in the exquisite loveliness of delicacy and color rarely found among cultivated flowers.

The Gomin bush and surrounding fields afford an inviting ground, the Cap Rouge bush is rich in many rare forms, and the vicinity of Lake Calvaire will yield good returns. The beach from Crescent Cove to Cap Rouge village is a sight at this season, the whole face of the Cape being covered with the great purple flowered clematis hanging in festoons from every branch of tree into which the vines grow It is one of the most ornamental and beautiful of table or room decorations, as ten or twelve feet of vine may be cut with clusters of flowers its entire length. But the beach also contains many other almost equally graceful flowers. Our list of wild flowers for early June in the vicinity of Cap Rouge, and about the beach is as follows:

Purple hooded orchis, large yellow orchis, three leaf gingseng, five leaf gingseng, purple flower clematis, wild cherry, choke cherry, louse wort, columbine, black alder, jack-in pulpit, tooth wort, early saxifrage, meadow rue, beach pea, unknown orchid, cowslip, marsh marigold, moccasin flower, large showy orchis, false mitrewort, wild apple, sheep's head sorel, five fingers, thyme, speedwell, buttercup, rock cress, bear berry, forget-me-not, clintonia, false spikenard, false solomon's seal, sweet raspberry, green orchid, oxalis, blue-eyed grass, elder, black alder, wood anemone, blue flag, early wild rose, sheep laurel, labrador tea, shin leaf, princess pine, wild onion, pembina, moose wood, twin flower, phlox, water leaf, purple flower rasp-berry, yellow flax, bladder campian, wild goose-berry, toad flax, bush honeysuckle, common vetch, tufted vetch, winter green, sundew, partridgeberry, speedwell, sweet briar, small bed straw, pale corydalis, muffin, lamb's quarter, hawthorne, wood violet, twisted stalk.

In the foregoing list we have included a few of the late May flowers which linger into early June, but we have excluded the very late June and early July varieties, satisfied that the list we have given is sufficiently full to gratify all reasonable demands We might add that we have found, all the flowers named in an area of less than half a mile from our residence.

Late August and early September produce another rich harvest of lovely flower forms,! and our roadsides are in gayest holiday attire with the varieties of asters and golden rods that abound. The fall seeds and fruits of many varieties of plants are also most attractive at this season, such for instance as the crimson rose berry, the bright red and snow white berries of the actia, the blue of the clintonia and the feathery seedheads of the clematis.



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