We have recently renovated our cottage near Bancroft and have a stone wall that we would like to add plants to to deter animal activity here. We face north-west. Can you suggest some plants that would do well here? Thank you!
Planning a new cottage garden is a great time to think about using native species which will help to preserve the ecology of your cottage’s surroundings, attract native pollinators and birds, limit the spread of non-native, invasive plants, and are easily maintained. You don’t say which pests you are hoping to deter, but if you are hoping to discourage deer and rabbits, this is a good guide to plant choices, with native selections clearly marked: http://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/HealthyLandscapes_Rabbit_and_Deer_Resistant_Plants.pdf
There are many beautiful native shrubs available for planting against the base of your new wall, including dogwoods and serviceberries. Low-growing evergreens such as native varieties of juniper could be planted at the top edge of the wall, or at ground level. There are so many native wildflower species that you could plant to create a meadow at the top of your wall, or in front of it. Here is link to a resource that will give you a good idea of invasive species and how to substitute a terrific native species – this guide is specifically geared to the northern Ontario gardener: https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NorthernGMI_2014_FINAL.compressed.pdf
The North American Native Plant Society also has an excellent site with a Canadian section for northern gardeners at https://www.nanps.org/
There is a lot of very good information online, including many great native plant nurseries. If possible, choose a nursery close to your cottage’s location as staff there will be familiar with your climate, soil conditions, etc., and can help you make the best choices.
You may find it useful to take a look through the Haliburton Master Gardeners’ terrific website. They offer much information about gardening with native plants, as well as gardening in Zone 4: http://www.haliburtonmastergardener.ca/
Closer to home, Pollinator Garden: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide is another useful resource, with an emphasis on native plants and an excellent chart of suggested native plants: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/pollinator-garden-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/
I hope this inspires you as you are planning your newly redesigned space. On a final note, here is a photo essay from one of Toronto’s amazing gardening writers about the creation of a naturalized garden at the cottage: https://www.thepaintboxgarden.com/muskoka-wild-gardening-in-cottage-country/