A Yellow Perennial Garden - Details - Front - Rear - Succulent

Site Plan | Plants | Sources | Failures | Bloom Times | Soils | Wildlife | Weather

spring 2006 2005: Moving in date was just before the ground was frozen solid. Some crocus bulbs were quickly added to the front lawn and narcissus to the back. A few weeks later, a weak fork of the Prunus virginiana in the front snapped off in an ice storm, leaving a gaping wound and seriously weakening a second fork. The second fork was shortened by 1/3 to reduce stress on it. The tree lost almost half its leaf area.

fall 2006 2006: Tree roots from the back third of the front lawn were cut off and dug out, which helped a bit to balance the damaged Prunus top with its roots, and experiments with plants started. A "free plants" sign and the offer of all the non-yellow flowers that appeared made friends with neighbouring gardeners and resulted in many plants in exchange. The frantic blast of water sprouts from the wounded tree were kept under control. A small preformed pond, several berry shrubs, and bird feeders were added to the rear yard to attract birds and small mammals. A compost bin was built.

front spring 2007 2007: More plants were introduced for trial. Repairs continued on the Prunus to nurse it back to health.

the meadow A meadow of native yellow-flowering plants was begun along the back fence.

summer 2008 2008: I and the plants were settled in enough that the front garden was expanded to fill the middle third using material that had proven successful during the first two years. A low rock curb that matched the new interlock driveway was installed to give shape to it. A new garden was begun in a rear shady corner, and a roof-watered bog garden built under the cedar trees at the back with the help of son Arthur. A sprinkler system was added for use during Ottawa's usual extended summer drought. (It may be early or late, but we almost always get one.)

summer 2009 2009: Conversion of the back fence meadow to a garden was begun. Deep digging was the order of the day to get rid of Convolvulus arvensis roots that the previous owner had allowed to become endemic throughout the back yard. Part of a concrete patio was converted to an alpine garden, and another garden added on the east side of the house. The Syringa tree at the front lost half its branches over the winter, didn't produce any new shoots to replace lost branches, and dropped its leaves early.

June 2010 2010: Early spring, a Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' was installed in the front garden to replace the failed Syringa. During the summer, the rotting railway tie wall at the back was dug out and replaced by interlocked stone, non-toxic and permanent. The back fence was repaired with help from son Michael. After a lifetime of doing my own composting, I switched to the city's green bin program, making more space for flowers of course. Finally, the fence garden was structurally complete. Late fall, emboldened by the frequency with which I received compliments from neighbours while working in the garden, the remaining grass in the front (back of the sidewalk) was replaced by sedum, crocus and narcissi.

front August 2011 2011: The Magnolia 'Yellow Bird' died over the winter, and was replaced by a M.'Sunburst'. A height extension and vines were added to the top of the fence of the back shade garden for more privacy, the rear concrete patio was replaced with natural slate stone, and an Aquilegia garden built in the long-wasted area to the left of the rear stairs. Despite one of the cloudiest summers I can remember, percent sun contours were measured throughout the gardens. There were many more insect infestations this year than usual, in particular of Monostegia abdominalis larvae in the front garden.

east side August 2011 Limestone stepping stones were installed on the east side of the house and planting completed.

back center August 2011 The last of the rear grass was replaced by a bulb garden and extended patio. In the front all that remains in grass is the salt-saturated patch between sidewalk and street, and I'm trying to establish Lotus corniculatus even there (despite the conditions being perfect for Plantago major).

23 April 2012 2012: 45 days after the first crocus was in bloom, the hyacinths were covered in wet snow. They survived, so they'd belong here if they had stayed yellow. Unfortunately they got whiter each year, so I gave them away. (3 week gaps between the last and 2nd-to-last spring frost are common here; in 1957, the gap was over 4 weeks.) The weather upset Narcissus though, only 10% of them bloomed. That was followed by a hot 26 June-22 July with no rain whatsoever. (1995 was worse, and 1944 much worse; it too is part of weather here.) An insect survey was done in the back gardens. The growth in numbers of ichneumon wasps and other caterpillar and aphid predators was sufficient that the problem insects of last year were nearly absent this year. Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' was divided and spread along the west side of the house.

2013: A dozen different alpine plants were added to the gravel garden for trial, and experimental hexagonal hypertufa pots cast to show them off. The rear shade garden was disrupted by the addition of a new basement window. Half of the Sedum hybridum in the geophyte garden was replaced by Ranunculus repens cuttings. Due to poorer bloom than the Forsythia 'Northern Gold', the F.'Ottawa' was donated to another gardener.

24 Oct 2014 2014: The winter was harsh (-37C) and a dozen plants were lost. The magnolia was removed after its infestation of scale proved impossible to handle. The first winter's survivors of hexagonal pots and a second year's production were installed and the surviving alpines planted in them, also some new ones. Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Vetchii' was added to the west wall as an experiment. The chokecherry showed clear signs of black knot fungus (Apiosporina morbosa), which means that a replacement must be planned for.

2015: The frost penetration was much deeper than usual, freezing hundreds of pipes throughout Ottawa, almost wiping out local ground nesting bees and small Hymenoptera, and almost killing the Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Robusta'. An Amelanchier canadensis was added to the front to become a replacement for the chokecherry.

2016: The winter wiped out all the Aquilegia and set back the Lilium, but other plants thrived to compensate. The Forsythia 'Northern Gold' was donated to another gardener since it grew too large and untidy for the site; a few Hemerocallis were donated to our first neighbourhood Free Plant Exchange to focus on the happiest ones. The alpine pots were completed along with trial acrylic tents for alpines that easily rot under snow, and experiments started there with hardy cacti.

2017: Something, probably a cottontail, ate the bottom half-meter of every one of the Parthenocissus over the winter. With TLC they're all recovering, but herbivore guards are going to be needed from now on.

Site Plan

site plan   back plan

front plan

Perennial Plants (* experimental)

Achillea tomentosa Pursh non L.
Allium moly L.
Alyssum montanum L.
Anemone ranunculoides L.
Anthemis tinctoria L.
Aquilegia chrysantha A.Gray
Aurinia saxatilis (L.)Desv.
Baptisia 'Solar Flare': Ault 2009
Caltha palustris L.
Chelidonium majus L.
Chrysanthemum 'Yellow Quill': U.Minnesota 2001
Chrysogonum virginianum L.
Clematis tangutica (Maxim.)Korsh.
Coreopsis verticillata L. 'Moonbeam'
Coreopsis verticillata L. 'Zagreb'
Corydalis lutea (L.)DC.
Crocus ancyrensis (Herb.)Maw
Crocus chrysanthus Herb.
Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth': 1765
Delosperma nubigenum
Digitalis grandiflora Mill.
Doronicum caucasicum M.Bieb.
Draba acaulis Boiss.
Draba aizoides L.
Draba brunifolia olympia Stev.
Draba compacta Schott Kotschy
Draba cuspidata M.Bieb.
Draba 'Judy': Judy Wall 2012
Draba mollissima Steven
Draba rigida Willd.
Draba 'Simon': Wrightman 2012
Echinacea 'Balsomemy': Darwin Perennials 2014
Epimedium 'Amber Queen': White 2010
Epimedium ×versicolor Morren
Eremurus 'Moneymaker': Ruiter
Erigeron aurantiacus 'Copper Elf'
Eriogonum umbellatum porteri (Small)S.Stokes
Erythronium americanum Ker.
Erysimum kotschyanum J.Gay
Genista tinctoria 'Plena' L.
Helenium autumnale L.
Helianthemum nummularium (L.)Mill.
Helianthus microcephalus 'Lemon Queen' Torr.&A.Gray
Hemerocallis 'Andrew Christian': Harris-Benz 1990
Hemerocallis 'Omomuki': Stamile 1991
Hemerocallis 'Pudgie': Winniford-E 1978
Hemerocallis 'Siloam Amazing Grace': Henry-P. 1989
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro': Jablonski 1989
Hemerocallis 'Winning Ways': Wild 1963
Hieracium canadense Michx.
Hymenoxys lapidicola Welsh&Neese
Hypericum coris L.
Hypericum perforatum L.
Inula ensifolia L.
Iris pseudacorus L.
Iris 'Summer Olympics': R.G.Smith 1976
Iris suaveolens flavescens Boiss.
Ligularia 'Little Rocket': Fransen 2002
Ligularia dentata (A.Gray)H.Hara
Ligularia przewalskii (Maxim.)Diels
Ligularia stenocephala (Maxim.)Matsum.&Koidz.
Lilium 'Citronella': Oregon Bulb Farms 1958
Lilium 'Tiny Bee': Johan Mak
Lilium 'Pixie Yellow': Oregon Bulb Farms
Lilium 'Pearl Melanie': R.Griesbach
Linaria vulgaris Hill
Lotus corniculatus L.
Lysimachia nummularia L.
Lysimachia quadrifolia L.
Narcissus 'Baby Moon' 7Y-Y: Gerritsen 1958
Narcissus 'Blazing Starlet' 11aY-YYO: Gerritsen 2009
Narcissus 'Dutch Master' 1Y-Y: 1948
Narcissus 'February Gold' 6Y-Y: de Graaff 1923
Narcissus 'Hawera' 5Y-Y: Thomson pre-1928
Narcissus 'Little Gem' 1Y-Y: Gerritsen 1959
Narcissus 'Quail' 7Y-Y: Mitsch 1974
Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' 1Y-Y: Rijnveld 1956
Narcissus 'Rip Van Winkle' 4G-Y: pre-1884
Narcissus 'Sunny Side Up' 11aW-Y: Gerritsen-van Lierop 2006
Narcissus 'Yellow Cheerfulness' 4Y-Y: Eggink 1937
Oenothera missouriensis Sims
Oenothera tetragona (multiple authorities)
Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Robusta' (Siebold&Zucc.)Planch
Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Vetchii' (Siebold&Zucc.)Planch
Potentilla crantzii (Crantz)Beck ex Fritsch.
Potentilla neumanniana Rchb.
Potentilla recta L.
Primula algida Adams
Primula elatior (L.)Hill
Primula polyantha P.Mill.
Primula veris L.
Ranunculus acris L.
Ranunculus ficaria L.
Ranunculus lingua L.
Ranunculus repens L.
Ratibida pinnata (Vent.)Barnhart
Ribes aureum Pursh
Rudbeckia fulgida Aiton
Rudbeckia hirta L.
Rudbeckia nitida Nutt.
Saxifraga 'Elizabeth Sinclair'
Saxifraga 'Meteor'
Sedum acre L.
Sedum floriferum Praeger
Sedum hybridum L.
Sedum kamtschaticum Fisch.&C.A.Mey.
Sedum rupestre L.
Senecio pauperculus Michx.
Silphium perfoliatum L.
Solidago caesia L.
Solidago canadensis L.
Solidago multiradiata Aiton
Solidago rigida L.
Solidago rugosa Mill.
Solidago sphacelata Raf.
Tanacetum vulgare L.
Thermopsis montana Nutt.
* Trillium luteum (Muhl.)Harb.
Tulipa dasystemon Regel
Tulipa 'Jaap Groot': J.Rustenburg 1999
Tulipa 'Roi du Midi': Scheepers
Tulipa urumiensis Stapf
Tulipa 'Yokohama': 1961
Tulipa turkestanica (Regel)Regel
Uvularia grandiflora Smith
Verbascum chaixii Vill.
* Viola pensylvanica Michaux.
Vitaliana primuliflora cinerea Bertol.
Waldsteinia ternata (Stephan)Fritsch.
Zizia aptera (A.Gray)Fernald
 
Self-maintaining Annuals
Barbarea vulgaris W.T.Aiton
Brassica kaber (DC.)L.C.Wheeler
Brassica nigra (L.)W.D.J.Koch
Erysimum cheiranthoides L.
Medicago lupulina L.
Oxalis stricta L.
Potentilla argentea L.
Ranunculus abortivus L.
Taraxacum officinale G.H.Weber ex Wiggers
Trifolium agrarium L.
 
Not Yellow
Amelanchier arborea (Michx.f.)Fernald
Arisaema triphyllum (L.)Schott
Dryopteris spinulosa (O.F.Müll.)Watt
Maianthemum canadense Desf.
Marchantia polymorpha L.
Onoclea sensibilis L.
Osmunda cinnamomea L.
Polytrichum juniperinicum Hedw.
Prunus virginiana L.
Thuja occidentalis L.
Trientis borealis Raf.

Local Plant Sources

Mail Order Sources

The Failures

Most people don't like to admit failures, but scientists like me know that hearing of failures can be every bit as important as hearing of successes.

Every nursery wants "well drained rich loam" for their plants! However, Googling the botanic name with "soil", "prefer" and "native habitat" increasingly gets a lot of useful information on the growing preferences and requirements of plants.

Here are the plants that seem to have failed for me primarily due to root rot or unhappiness with the soil. Many were donated by neighbours who have sandy loam with no excess magnesium: Alcea rugosa, Clintonia borealis (the bog), Cypripedium parviflorum (may have been crown rot), Erysimum cheiri, Lupinus 'Gallery Yellow', Stylophorum diphyllum, three Trollius species, Tussilago farfara.

Rain water is normally acidic due to carbon dioxide dissolved from the atmosphere (Ottawa rain averages pH 5.6) and plant leaves are adapted to such water. Our tap water, although almost as pure as rain water (typically 50 ppm dissolved solids), has its pH raised above 9 with sodium carbonate to reduce corrosion of lead water pipes in apartment buildings and 100-year-old iron city water mains. Plant leaves are not adapted to such alkalinity, and some have severe problems with it. Some of the plants above may have been fatally damaged during times when sprinklers were needed, before I understood this factor.

These probably failed to survive due to marginal hardiness, but the soil or water may have played a part as well: Alcea rosea, Campsis radicans 'Flava', Corydalis 'Canary Feathers', Eremurus bungei, Gazania linearis, Roscoea ×beesiana, Sisyrinchium californicum, Sternbergia lutea.

These survived at least one winter but were too short-lived here to be useful: Aquilegia ×caerulea 'Sunshine', Coreopsis lanceolata, Doronicum plantagineum, Doronicum orientale, Erythronium 'Pagoda', Fritillaria pallidiflora, Gaillardia ×grandiflora, Hypericum olympicum, Iris danfordiae, Ligularia ×hessei, Lilium 'Fata Morgana', Linum flavum, Narcissus bulbocodium, Primula vulgaris and several allies, all Rudbeckia hirta selections, Sagina subulata, Trollius yunnanensis, Tulipa batalinii, Viola cornuta, V.pensylvanica, V.'Patiola', V. ×sorbet.

These were removed due to intractable parasite problems: Magnolia 'Sunburst' with magnolia scale (Neolecanium cornuparvum), Heliopsis helianthoides with red aphids (Uroleucon obscuricaudatus).

Euphorbia cyparissias and Helianthus tuberosus proved too invasive. The Helianthus has great blooms, but it flopped over in the low light of the east side, the only contained bed available; a trial with a 60 l pot in sun resulted in a pot so full of roots that the plants were too stunted to bloom. Rudbeckia laciniata and Centaurea macrocephala were too tall and had too few and small flowers to be worth the space. Geum 'Lady Stratheden' and Echinacia paradoxa had stems far too weak for their blooms. Hyacinth 'City of Haarlem' and 'Yellow Queen' started off yellow but after several years were coming up white instead.

Blooming Times

As with all weeks on my site, these are natural weeks, starting 22 December.
                          Averages 2008-16
                         1         2         3         4
                         0123456789012345678901234567890123456
Crocus                       xxxxxx|         |         |            
Eranthis hyemalis             xxxx |         |         |            
Narcissus 1Y-Y                   xxxxxx      |         |            
Epimedium x versicolor            xxxx       |         |            
Uvularia grandiflora              xxx        |         |            
Anemone ranunculoides             xxx        |         |            
mini Narcissus                    xxx        |         |            
Narcissus 'Sunnyside Up'          xxx        |         |            
Draba aizoides                    xxx        |         |            
Potentilla neumanniana            xxxxxx     |         |            
Tulipa turkestanica               xx         |         |            
Draba 'Judy'                      xxxx       |         |            
Waldsteineria ternata             xxxxx      |         |            
Chelidonium majus                  xxxxxxx xxx         |            
Doronicum caucasicum               xxxxx     |         |            
Primula                            xxxxx     |         |            
Ranunculus repens                  xxxxx     |         |            
Taraxacum officinale               xxxxx     |         |   x        
Tulipa dasystemon                  xx        |         |            
Caltha palustris                   xxx       |         |            
Tulipa 'Yokohama'                  xxxx      |         |            
Narcissus 7Y-Y                     xxxxx     |         |            
Draba brunifolia olympia           xxx       |         |            
Ribes aureum                       xxxx      |         |            
Tulipa urumiensis                  xxx       |         |            
Tulipa 'Jaap Groot'                xxx       |         |            
Ranunculus ficaria                 xx        |         |            
Draba cuspidata                    xxx       |         |            
Potentilla crantzii                xxxx      | x     x x x xx       
Viola pensylvanica                 xxx       |         |            
Alyssum montanum                   |xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxx        
Aurinia saxatilis                  |xxxx     |         |            
Tulipa 'Roi du Midi'               |xxxx     |         |            
Epimidium 'Amber Queen'            |xxxx    xx         |            
small Cruciferae                   | xxxxxxxxxxxx      |            
Iris 'Summer Olympics'             | xxx     |         |            
Zizia aptera                       | xxxxx   |         |            
Chrysogonum virginianum            |  xxxxxxx|         |            
Ranunculus acris                   |  xxxxxxxxxx       |            
Draba 'Simon'                      |  xxx    |         |            
Erysimum kotschyanum               |  xxx    x         |            
Aquilegia chrysantha               |   xxxxxxxx xxxx   |            
Medicago lupulina                  |   xxxxxxxxxxxxxx  |            
Sedum kamtschaticum                |   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx      
Helianthemum nummularium           |   xxxxxxxxxx      |            
Digitalis grandiflora              |   xxxxx |         |            
Eriogonum umbellatum               |   xxxx  |         |            
Hieracium canadense                |    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx       
Lotus corniculatus                 |    xxxxxxxxxxxxx  |            
Oenothera missouriensis            |    xxxxxxxx       |            
Oxalis stricta                     |    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|            
Potentilla argentea                |    xxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx          
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Or          |    xxxxxx    xxxxxxxx          
Baptisia 'Lemon Meringue'          |    xxx  |         |            
Iris pseudacoris                   |    xx   |         |            
Ranunculus abortivus               |    xxxxxxxx xx    |            
Allium moly                        |    xxx  |         |            
Lysimachia nummularia              |     xxxxx         |            
Oenothera tetragona                |     xxxx|         |            
Potentilla recta                   |     xxxxxxx       |            
Sedum rupestre                     |     xxxxx         |            
Sedum floriferum                   |     xxxxxx        |            
Sedum hybridum                     |     xxxxx         |            
Chrysanthemum 'Yellow Qui          |     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx      
Coreopsis 'Zagreb'                 |      xxxxxxxxxxxx x            
Anthemis tinctoria                 |      xxxxxxxxxxxx |            
Lilium 'Tiny Bee'                  |      xx |         |            
Thermopsis montana                 |      xxx|         |            
Eremurus 'Moneymaker'              |      xxx|         |            
Hypericum coris                    |      xxxx         |            
Sedum acre                         |      xxxxxx       |            
Lilium 'Pixie Yellow'              |      xxxx         |            
Coreopsis 'Moonbeam'               |       xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx       
Hypericum perforatum               |       xxxxxxxxx   |            
Lysimachia quadrifolia             |       xxxxxx      |            
Inula ensifolia                    |       xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx          
Ligularia przwalskyi               |        xxxx       |            
yellow Hemerocallis                |        xxxxxx     |            
Lilium 'Citronella'                |        xxxx       |            
Lilium 'Pearl Melanie'             |        xxx        |            
small Rudbeckia                    |         xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx      
Clematis tangutica                 |         xx xxxxxxxxxx          
Ligularia 'Little Rocket'          |         xxxx      |            
Ligularia stenocephala             |         xxxxxx    |            
Silphium perfoliatum               |         xxxxxxxxxxxxx          
Lilium 'Dazzle'                    |         xxx       |            
Ratibida pinnata                   |         xxxxxxxxxx|            
Solidago                           |         |xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx       
Rudbeckia nitida                   |         |xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx     
Helianthus microcephalis           |         | xxxxxxxxxxxxx        
Helenium autumnale                 |         |  xxxxxxxxxxx         
Ligularia dentata                  |         |   xxxxxxxx           
Genista tinctoria                  |         |    xxxxxx            
Linaria vulgaris                   |         |      xxxxxx          

Soils

soil settling The area used to be a motorcycle racetrack with a stone surface; it was covered over with 20 cm of so-so soil when the house was built. At first I thought the added soil was clay, it was so clumpy, water-retentive and hard to dig. But, when a soil texture check (at right) indicated it was loam, I got a lab test. Loam it is, but previous owners had grossly overused dolomitic limestone, high in water-clumping and phosphate-bonding magnesium. The problem is being corrected by lowering pH, which will assist leaching out of excess magnesium, and by the addition of calcium to counterbalance the remaining magnesium's effect on soil structure.

Soil management is zero tillage except for weeding and transplanting. Plant materials, including tree leaves, flower petals etc., are left in place except as required to avoid disease. Natural processes (including our non-native earthworms, which are plentiful) are relied on to transport organic matter, phosphorus and sulphur throughout the growing layer.
Front Garden before treatment (2006)
area50 m2 Remediation: 4 kg bonemeal (4-10-0, 9 kg/bag) per year until available phosphorus reaches an adequate level; 2 kg agricultural sulphur per year until pH reaches 7.2 so that phosphorus is fully available.

Maintenance: 2 kg bonemeal per year. Sulphur will be used as required to keep pH below 7.2 Bonemeal provides calcium (22%) to improve soil structure. (Local labs don't test for it.)

pH7.6high
salts0.15 mS/cm low (good)
P30 ppmlow
K200 ppmadequate
Mg300 ppmhigh
organic 6.5%adequate
Back Gardens after 1 year sulphur treatment (2007)
area80 m2

The sulphur is doing its work both to lower pH and in making the magnesium mobile as a salt, but the phosphorus isn't available yet. Remediation: 5 kg bonemeal per year until available phosphorus reaches an adequate level.

Maintenance: 2 kg bonemeal per year. Sulphur will be used as required to keep pH below 7.2

pH7.2OK
salts0.50 mS/cm moderately high
P23 ppmlow
K110 ppma bit low
Mg320 ppmhigh
organic 7.2%adequate

Soil materials growers use for cacti & succulents
Material Particle
size mm
pH + Water  *
absorption
Notes
Peat moss n/a 4.5 175% Fafard
Fir bark 5-25 4.9 140% Fafard 'western bark'
Qualisorb 1-5 5.3 120% calcined diatoms (silica)
Turface 1-7 5.4 75% MVP, calcined clay
Coffee grounds 0.1 5.7 290% fine grind
Laterite 2-4 6.5 12% Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
Topsoil n/a 6.6 250% Qualigrow
Vermiculite 5 6.7 320% Perlite Canada Holiday, expanded mica, decomposes outdoors into thin plates 1-2mm in size with little absorption capacity, floats to the top when watering, asbestos free in Canada since 1995
Cedar mulch n/a 6.8 550% Fafard
Mix n/a 6.9 100% Fafard Cactus&Succulent Plant Potting Mix: peat moss, black earth, sand, Perlite, lime, fertilizer
Perlite 3-10 7.6 190% Fafard, pumice/silica glass, looks like styrofoam, floats to the top when watering
Chicken grit 5 7.8 10% Pestell Minerals, decomposes outdoors into powder, turkey grit same material 10mm size
Sand 0.1-0.4 8.0 25% Bomix construction grade
Tufa n/a 8.7 17%
Marble 3-7 10.0 0 Upper Canada Minerals size #1 white marble
+ equilibrium pH in distilled water
* oven dried dry weight; soaked for 1 hour, drained for 1 hour for wet weight

One top Ottawa grower uses 50% potting soil, 40% Turface, 10% coarse sand; another 50% Qualisorb, 50% topsoil; both mixes have high water retention. On the web: Hubert Conlon (Cornell Cooperative Extension): 1 part garden soil, 1 part sand and 1 part peat moss; Donna Kuroda (National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society): 1 part potting soil, 1 part perlite; World of Succulents: 2 parts topsoil, 2 parts peat moss, 1 part coarse sand, 1 part perlite or crushed charcoal, 2 oz limestone & 2 oz bonemeal per 15 l of mix. Most on the web agree that soil should fall apart after you wet it and give it a squeeze, or that water should drain through pot in 15 s; most also agree that slightly acidic pH is best, but that some lime is needed. A few growers even treat succulents as epiphytes and pot in zero-soil zero-peat-moss bark mixes, but they are a small minority. The gap between local growers and the more southern growers with sites on the web is remarkable; I plan a few comparison experiments.

Wildlife

These are the wild creatures who have found shelter, food or water here so far (not just flown overhead):

Birds (41)Other Animals (12)
American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Brown-headed Cowbird
Cedar Waxwing
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Common Redpoll
Common Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
Downy Woodpecker
Evening Grosbeak
Gray Catbird
Hairy Woodpecker
House Finch
House Sparrow
House Wren
Least Flycatcher
Mallard
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Northern Oriole
Pileated Woodpecker
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Dove
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Pine Siskin
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Song Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-crowned Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Toad
Cottontail Rabbit
Eastern Chipmunk
Eastern Raccoon
Grey Squirrel
Groundhog
Leopard Frog
Meadow Vole
Painted Turtle
Red Squirrel
Short-tailed Shrew
Striped Skunk

Insects (335)

Weather

Ottawa temperature 1939- Ottawa humidity 1953-
Ottawa rainfall 1939- Ottawa snow cover 1955-
Ottawa insolation 1964-1987 Ottawa wind 2001-
Ottawa hours sun Ottawa cloud cover 1964-1987
Ottawa ground water recharge 1939- Ottawa surface soil moisture 1939-
Ottawa frost-free days 1890- Ottawa frost-free degree-days 5.6-30C 1890-
Ottawa mean temperature 1890- Ottawa evapotranspiration 1890-
Urbanization did not reach the location of these measurements (CDA, 5 km NNW) until the 1930's; it didn't reach the YOW station (4 km south) until the 1970's. My detailed analysis of the data from these two sites, combined with maps showing the extent of urban growth and energy consumption data, indicates that roughly 60% of the CDA temperature increase since 1930 is due to heat island effects from the growing city of Ottawa. The purely statistical continent-wide analysis done by NASA, 56%, is in surprisingly good agreement.

Mid-December 2011, the YOW station (1939-2011) was transferred to NavCanada. The only Environment Canada station here is now CDARCS (2001-), an automated unmanned system at the north end of the Central Experimental Farm. Study of YOW, CDARCS and CDA records during their overlaps suggests:
Precipitation at CDA/CDARCS is statistically equal to that at YOW with no significant trend.
Temperature at CDA/CDARCS is 0.16 K higher than at YOW as of 2011; this difference has been decreasing by 9.4±.3 mK per year since the 1970's.
Wind at YOW is higher than at CDARCS; gusts are 1.5x, average wind 1.2x; it's more exposed.
Snow on Ground at CDARCS is about 85% that at YOW on average.

The solar insolation data was obtained at the National Research Council of Canada when I was there.

A temperature recorder was installed in my garden for 2012; its hourly reading average was equal to CDARCS within statistical margins. The CDARCS temperature recorder is often taken off line; comparison with my garden recorder shows that the CDARCS reading immediately prior to being taken off line is usually anomalous and should be rejected. Incredibly, the station is maintained from Toronto and North Bay, so errors accumulate until a technician travels from one of those locations to fix it. There are technicians right next door at AgCanada who have been running their CDA station since 1890, with greater reliability than CDARCS, but Environment Canada refuses to use them.

John Sankey
other notes on nature studies