Oh, this is the joy of the rose--that it blooms and goes.
- Willa Cather
Viewing entries tagged easy-care gardens
When Superstorm Sandy took a large oak tree, leaving me with a hole on my hillside, I decided the only thing to do was plant a native. After researching native shrubs—with the help of Donald Leopold’s Native Plants of the Northeast, I developed a list of possibilities that would suit my site. (For more on this useful book, go to the Timber Press website.) Considering the soil and light conditions, the appearance and habit of the plants, I settled on Eastern Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius.
Then I went shopping. Unfortunately, many nurseries and garden centers do not yet carry the native plants we should be using. It can take some looking to find them. In my area of Fairfield County, CT, Hollandia Nurseries in Bethel offered it among their wide selection. I bought three of the “Diablo” cultivar, which has beautiful bronze leaves.
Tags: deciduous shrubs, bronze foliage, easy-care gardens, flowering shrubs, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diablo', Donald Leopold, Native Plants of the Northeast, native shrubs, native plants, organic gardening, Hollandia Nurseries, Eastern Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius
Ninebark can grow to 8 feet high with arching stems in sun to part shade (Zones 2-7). It blooms in late spring with pink-tinged white blossoms that set off the foliage. The bees and butterflies love them. And it develops berries to feed native wildlife. One reason I chose it was that it tolerates “dry to wet, sandy or rocky” soil, according to Leopold. That led me to believe it would be happy on my dry, rocky hillside.
From the moment I planted them, the Ninebarks have settled in with no signs of stress. Even through our hot July, they have remained perky. They have grown quickly from 3 to 5 feet tall to help fill in the gap on my hill. I am very happy I chose them and would recommend these native shrubs to anyone looking for a decorative and easy-care addition to their garden.
It stands to reason that in a capitalist society like ours, change takes effect when someone can make a profit on it. It's taken long enough, but the "Green" movement has finally become marketable. I, for one, applaud anyone promoting green products, habits or policies.
In keeping with the movement toward planting natives, some companies are marketing native plants that are desirable but have been largely neglected till now. For gardeners trying to support wildlife and a healthy planet, here’s a company that makes it easy. American Beauties, LLC, has produced a line of plants native to the Northeast that belong in our gardens and provide food and shelter for our wildlife.* Even better, purchases of these plants actually help support the National Wildlife Federation’s conservation and education programs.
Many of their plants are familiar, like Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and Pussy Willow (Salix discolor), but others, like Prairie dropseed (Sporobulus heterolepis) and Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), are under-used by gardeners. American Beauties has a beautifully designed website (www.abnativeplants.com) to help us find the right plants for our sites and goals. By clicking various criteria (size, color, type of plant, etc.) we can pull up an illustrated list of their plants that match.
Prairie dropseed (above) is a lovely native grass, and Button bush (below) produces fascinating spherical blossoms.
American Beauties has also designed a series of specific gardens—one for attracting butterflies and another for birds. Two more gardens are planned for the challenging conditions of moist sun and dry shade. Each landscape plan has a list of the plants that will work in that garden, and there are even layout suggestions that include trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and vines. The American Beauties website will be a great first stop before doing any planting this spring, and we can support the planet by looking for their labels when plant shopping. It's a win-win.
Tags: native plants, native shrubs, garden for birds, garden for butterflies, moist sun garden, dry shade garden, Prairie dropseed, Sporobulus heterolepis, Button Bush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Salix discolor, Pussy Willow, Echinacea, Echinacea purpurea, Coneflower, CT gardening, Gardening in New England, gardening in the Northeast, easy-care gardens, gardening in zone 6, gardening for wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, organic gardening, Spring, American Beauties LLC
*As time goes on, the company plans to offer product lines tailored to each climate region in the country.
Talk about easy care, this plant thrives on neglect! I’m describing Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), which shines as summer turns to fall. Against the developing Autumn hues, Plumbago’s electric blue blossoms offer a refreshing contrast. The five-lobed flowers closely resemble the tropical Plumbago so popular down South, but this is a perennial hardy in Zones 6 to 9.
Though it’s not a native (it hails from Africa and Asia), it certainly is adaptable. Originally found in dry, open spaces, C. plumbaginoides thrives unattended on my partly shaded slope. Its one requirement is well-drained soil. For me, any plant that tolerates some shade AND dry soil is a miracle.
Plumbago spreads by rhizomes to form a lovely groundcover 1 to 1-1/2 feet high. With its pretty green, spoon shaped leaves, it is a great candidate for rock gardens. And, as the weather cools, the leaves turn bright red or burgundy even while the blue flowers continue. Three seasons of beauty, plus it needs no pruning, no dead-heading, no staking—just about the perfect plant. I’ve also never seen any problems with insects or disease, though it can be susceptible to powdery mildew. So err on the side of dry soil when planting.
As I write this, I notice that this is another selection by the American Horticultural Society as a “great plant for American gardens.” I can see why they chose it, and I’m kind of proud of myself to find how many of their choices are already part of my garden.
Tags: New England gardening, organic gardening, North East, shade gardening, rock gardens, groundcover, fall foliage, Fall color, easy care perennials, easy-care gardens, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Plumbago, 75 great plants for American gardens, American Horticultural Society
As I savor the vibrant colors of my daylilies on this sultry summer afternoon, I am reminded of how much I appreciated them last year. The summer of 2010 was so hot and dry in the North East that no amount of watering could perk up some of the plants in my yard. Branches drooped; leaves turned to parchment; and flowers came and went in a sorry blink.
Not so the various Hemerocallis in my garden. Their foliage stood staunchly and their blossoms unfurled daily with vigor. They did not require extra attention, and, unlike many others in my garden, they were not depressing to see. Daylilies, it turns out, come from mountainous areas of Asia that can be dry.
Other perennials that stood tall throughout the drought include wild Aster (A. divaricatus, White Wood Aster), Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and blue Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro). I was surprised to learn that all four of these belong to the Aster family. Three of them are native to the Eastern US, Globe Thistle hails from dry, gravelly areas across the pond. And both E. purpurea and a variety of Rudbeckia, R. fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm,’ rate selection by the American Horticultural Society (AHS) as two of the great plants for American gardens. A major qualification for this label is trouble-free growth.
Blue Oat Grass (Chasmanthium latifolium), indigenous to Central and Eastern US, waved its lovely seedheads in the breeze despite the lack of rain. The popular Autumn Joy (Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’) showed stamina, too. Native to dry, mountainous areas of North & South America, this late-bloomer is another AHS-designated great plant.
Although the perennial groundcovers Epimedium (E. x youngianum, aka Barrenwort) and Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) originated in Asia, their habitats were dry, open areas, explaining why they withstood last summer with aplomb.
Two shrubs that held their own last summer were Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata), a wonderful low evergreen for slopes, and Caryopteris (C. x clandonensis ‘Blue Mist’), a medium-sized deciduous shrub that flowers in late summer. It turns out that they, too, derive from dry slopes in Asia. The Caryopteris is also an AHS great plant.
Notice a pattern here? All the plants that weathered last year’s drought without wilting have origins in dry locations, many of which are in the Eastern US. Yet another manifestation of the old garden adage, “Right Plant, Right Place.” If we choose plants that are naturally suited to the conditions we can offer them, we will have happy, easy-care gardens. So, species native to our area--or at least one that resembles it--are our best choices.
Now I can return to enjoying the daylilies, coneflowers and globe thistle blooming in my garden with the knowledge that many of my plants are where they belong and prepared for what heat and drought may come.
Tags: AHS, American Horticultural Society, Caryopteris, Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Epimedium, Plumbago, Microbiota, Siberian Cypress, Hemerocallis, Black Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Echinacea, Aster, daylilies, sustainabilitiy, easy-care gardens, North East, New England gardening, shade gardening, Echinops ritro, Globe thistle, great plants, 75 great plants for American gardens, Summer, drought
This list of drought-tolerant plants is by no means complete. It reflects the plants in my shady garden of which I can speak from experience. In these days of extreme weather and concern for sustainability, we would all be wise to focus on plants that do not demand extra water. I'd love to hear from you about the plants that have proved to be drought tolerant for you in the North East, so we can compile a useful list.