Some ratstripper for my first Green Thumb Sunday

At the moment, my beloved ratstripper (Paxistima canbyi) is the only real green showing in my back gardens. I adore this evergreen groundcover since it can withstand most anything, including my big brown dog.

Every year it faithfully appears, requires little maintenance and increases steadily year upon year. I went on a quest this morning to find out why this pretty-leaved groundcover received such an intriguing name.

Although I came away empty-handed on the origins of its name, I did learn that the ratstripper is a native North American shrub. When I consulted my favourite Canadian gardening website and their paperback guide, Heritage Perennials, I discovered that ratstripper spreads slowly and is ‘excellent for underplanting trees and shrubs’. I guess that means it grows well in shade, although mine is subjected to fairly intense sunlight at certain times of the day. The flowers appear in spring and are rather cute – greenish, and quite subtle.

I am hoping that Heritage Perennials resident horticulturalist, John Valleau, will be able to shed some light on the origins of my plant’s name. I will keep you posted.

And now I am off to check out some blogs before returning to the adventures of Mr. Frank K. Ward and his quest for blue poppies … he is currently in Tibet, having just escaped a near attack by wild dogs.

10 thoughts on “Some ratstripper for my first Green Thumb Sunday

  1. Wow… rat-stripper. Always one for a puzzle, I did go a’hunting for a meaning, but with very little result.Apart from the other common name of ‘Canby’s mountain-lover’, I could unearth no clue.Anyone got the full OED handy?Your blog goes from strength to strength, C and is always a joy to read.S

  2. Aunt C, don’t you think you should have some conifers somewhere so your garden isn’t completely devoid of green in the winter? I am NOT suggesting that you alter your backyard in anyway, but you could stick up some cedars in your front yard, perhaps. Maybe a little hedge. I can’t imagine not seeing any green for so long. We have fur trees all over the place here. Our yard and the valley are replete with furs. Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, etc. It’s really quite nice. I don’t think you like big trees very much but I think it’s really nice waking up to see the big trees in the backyard everymorning. But you can’t just stick up a big tree, can you? But I think that a coniferous hedge of some kind would be very nice in your front yard. Do you remember my suggestion og having a “lawn” of those creeping juniper things instead of grass? I still think it’s a great idea. Or!! You could terrace your frong yard. If you come to Edmonton in the summer I would take you to this house that has some really nice terracing. You could have a “Catherine” garden in the backyard and an Oriental type garden in the front yard. Wow. Twice the garden, twice the fun! I’m sorry for being such a delinquent lately and not checking on your blog. I had quite a bit of reading to catch up on. Love you!

  3. Hey, your snow is melting! We just got 15 cm and are expecting 1 cm tomorrow. I love to see those little bits of green too, early in the season. Thanks for adding me to your playing in the dirt roll, btw. I used to live in both Moose Jaw and Saskatoon (not at the same time) and I recall that it was lethal in the winter and like an oven door left open in the summer. But what a beautiful sky.

  4. Hey Hey Glad you could come over and hang out with us.You are like us Ontarions, waiting for signs of spring.I think you got a little sign of spring there!I miss the gardenmine is up

  5. My goodness, still snow? We had our first “snow” of this winter last night. There was a centimeter or two on the ground. But when I woke up this morning, it was all gone. That’s an Irish snowstorm! hee hee. I’d love some real snow some year, would be cool. Hope you begin to see more green soon, spring must be just peeking in , hmm?

  6. Hello Kate, So a plant from the mountains of Virginia is the winter mainstay of a Canadian garden? Pretty interesting.Hortus Third lists two common names for Paxistima canbyi, “Cliff-Green” and “Mountain-Lover”. If you get tired of saying ‘ratstripper’ you can have these for backup! Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  7. Hi Kate,Love your blog. I see that, like me, you’re an avid reader.We had a bit of snow today, and some hail and then a thunderstorm after which we had some rain and then 2 full minutes of sunshine. :-)Last week we had spring in the Netherlands but this week it’s winter again. After those bleak months of winter (whether you had snow or just dull grey days) we could all do with a bit of fresh greenery! Glad you got yours!BTW I’ll link with you too.

  8. Thanks S, for helping on my search & for your encouragement. Tones – I have one evergreen in my front yard, but it was covered with snow all winter. I’ll keep your suggestion for a cedar hedge in mind.Ottawa gardener & Lynn – good to see some Ontario gardeners here!! I’ll be checking out your blogs often…and yes, summer here is like having the oven door open … but, but, but it is DRY here.Salix tree, I wish that we had the same kind of snowfalls here. I wanna move to Ireland!!Thanks for the info, Ki – you’ve come up with a good explanation for the name!!Annie – funny how some plants end up far, far from their origins! It’s a rare thing when a plant does well here. Yolanda – it sounds as if your weather is unpredictable at this time of year … luckily your snow won’t last long! I love your Victorian greenhouse.

  9. Kate,I am going to look into that book about poppies. After I read a mystery about blue poppies by Skye Kathleen Moody called Blue Poppy, I tried to grow them here in Maine, but had no luck. Maybe I will get some pointers from Ward’s book. Our snow is finally melting, here, hopefully we will not get another big storm this season.

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