Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
This early spring native plant is a joy! White blooms appear before most other plants have emerged, making it a very welcome harbinger of the growing season. Its scalloped leaves create a lovely groundcover. Prefers shade, rich soil, and average moisture. Bloodroot is a great alternative to lawn grass in shady conditions. Zone 4.
Shady conditions and clay soil are a tough combination, but this upright, bushy perennial will thrive. Its flowers—creamy white plumes that rise above the foliage—are a knockout in early and midsummer. Grows to approximately 6 feet, with a spread of 4 feet. Give it plenty of room, and water during dry spells. Zone 3b.
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus)
This native deciduous tree has it all: prolific, showy white flowers in spring, delicious (for humans and for birds!) berries in summer, and a small stature (20 feet) that makes it perfect for urban gardens. A bonus: it tolerates shade. Zone 3b.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
This perennial makes a dramatic statement in the garden, sending up tall spikes of bell-shaped yellowish flowers that bloom from late spring to midsummer. Tolerant of part-shade, it will grow in the dry areas under trees. The leaves are purple tinged. Fringecups is great for attracting pollinating insects to the garden. Zone 4.
Fringecups (Tellima grandiflora)
Perfect for container growing on patios and balconies, this compact strawberry bears small but intensely flavoured fruit throughout summer. It can also be planted directly in the garden, where it spreads by runners, creating an excellent groundcover. Zone 4.
Alpine strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
About Lorraine JohnsonLorraine Johnson is the author of numerous gardening books, including 100 Easy-to-Grow Native Plants for Canadian Gardens, City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, and Tending the Earth, as well as editor of DK's What Plant Where Encyclopedia. Past-president of the North American Native Plant Society and a regular speaker to horticultural groups, she is passionate about the importance of sustainable gardening and the use of Canadian native plants. Lorraine currently lives in Toronto.