Archive for the green gardening Category

Your Native Woodland: If You Build It They Will Come, Part 2

Posted in green gardening, landscape design, my garden, native plants, Shade Perennials, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

The woodland at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens with mayapples, golden groundsel, Viginia bluebells, dwarf Jacob’s ladder, wild ginger, and white-flowered redbud, all native to Pennsylvania in the mid-Atlantic US.

I am very excited to report that my blog has now gone over 2 million views.  To see the numbers, look at the counter on the right sidebar labeled Site Stats Since 11/3/10 (if the sidebar is not visible, click the snowdrop banner at the top).  That’s a lot of people!  And what have they been reading?  Well, my fifth most popular post is Your Native Woodland: If You Build It They Will Come, which I wrote in April 2012.  In it, I tell readers how to create their very own woodland filled with native plants.  To read it, click here.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Photos of the six of the native plants recommended in the 2012 post, clockwise from the left: Celandine poppies and Virginia bluebells, dwarf Jacob’s ladder and wild ginger, ‘Blue Ridge’ creeping phlox, and northern sea oats.

In 2012, I recommended that readers use nine plants to create their native woodland: Virginia bluebells, Celandine poppy, dwarf Jacob’s ladder, white violets, creeping phlox, wild ginger, golden groundsel, and northern sea oats.  All the botanical names are in the original post.  I still believe that those nine plants are the best natives to start your woodland because they are beautiful, easy to grow, and spread quickly.

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Photos of the remaining three native plants recommended in the 2012 post, clockwise from upper left: white violets, blue wood aster, and golden groundsel.

I am hoping that after five years, gardeners have been successful with the original nine recommendations and are ready to broaden their selection.  Below, I profile eight more easy-to-grow native plants.  Keep in mind that the more plants of each variety you plant, the more satisfied you will be with the result.  If you are on a budget, plant five, seven, or nine of one or two of the recommendations rather than a smaller quantity of each.  Use plenty of compost and mulch with ground or whole leaves, and then stand back and watch them spread. 

Here are my suggestions for additions:

.Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, thrives in high shade and well-drained soil.  Here it is with blue wood aster right under my massive black walnut trees.

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Last time I recommended ‘Blue Ridge’ creeping phlox, but purple and pink creeping phlox are even more vigorous.  This is my sweep of the purple variety, Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’.  It really likes edges so plant it along your woodland path.

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‘Sherwood Purple’

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Creeping phlox also comes in pink—the cultivar ‘Home Fires’.

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Native sedge, Carex laxiculmus ‘Bunny Blue’, grows right at the base of trees and reproduces itself nicely, spreading its beautiful silver-blue hue around the woods.

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This is a western native camassia, C. leitchtlinii ‘Caerulea’.  It grows through out my woodland in filtered light but also in my part sun meadow.  Each plant increases to a gorgeous clump and blooms in May.

A very unusual native plant called Robin’s plantain, Erigeron pulchellus ‘Lynnhave Carpet’, makes a tight ground cover of fuzzy gray leaves at the edge of my woods.  In May, it produces multitudes of daisy like flowers.  This patch started from a single plant given to me by Charles Cresson.

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There are many ferns that thrive in my woods but none do as well as ghost fern.  It is a native hybrid (lady fern x Japanese painted fern) rather than a straight native, but it makes up for its non-native heritage with its beautiful silvery gray leaves and striking upright habit.

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Your woods wouldn’t be complete without understory trees, and nothing works better than our Pennsylvania native redbuds.  I use white-flowered redbud, Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’, in my woods because I love blue, yellow, and white together.   ‘Alba’ is pictured here with yellow trillium, Virginia bluebells, and Celandine poppy.

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White redbud with native hardy geranium, ginger, Virginia bluebells, cinnamon fern, mayapples, and golden groundsel.

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It is a pleasure to walk this path in the spring.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

2017 Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS)

Posted in flower show, green gardening, How to, my garden, organic gardening, product review, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2017 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

img_2272A beautifully designed display decorating the MANTS booth of one of my wholesale suppliers.

Last week Michael and I attended the Mid-Atlantic Nursery and Trade Show (MANTS) at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.  MANTS is a yearly event in early January with over 960 exhibiting companies covering 300,000 square feet (seven acres) of the convention center and hosting 11,000 attendees.  We go to MANTS not only to get ideas about new products and plants for Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, but also to discover potential new suppliers and renew acquaintances with existing suppliers.  I thought you might enjoy a quick peak at what goes on at a trade show of this size.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Helleborus x 'Molly's White'I am very excited about this new hellebore that Carolyn’s Shade Gardens will be selling in 2017.  It is called ‘Molly’s White’ and is a sister plant to the best-selling ‘Penny’s Pink’.  I already have it in my garden, and it’s doing quite well.  My ‘Penny’s Pink’ plants have lots of buds showing right now.  to read more about this newer type of hellebore, click here.

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img_2262There are many beautifully displayed plant exhibits at MANTS like the one above featuring an edgeworthia, camellias, and hellebores. It is difficult with the odd lighting to get a good photo though.

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img_2264If you start flowers and vegetables from seed, you can’t go wrong with Hart Seed Company, a 100-year-old, family owned and operated business, specializing in untreated and non-GE (genetically engineered) seed.  They support independent, local nurseries by refusing to sell to big box and discount stores.

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img_2270Colonial Road, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, makes very comfortable, recycled plastic Adirondack chairs that come close to looking like the high maintenance wood version (at least if you buy it in the white shown in the poster instead of the kaleidoscope of colors displayed here).  I loved my wooden Adirondack chairs but was constantly replacing rotted slats, and have you ever tried to paint one?  Let me know if you are interested in seeing mine or buying any as Carolyn’s Shade Gardens can get them for you.

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img_2280It is tempting to turn to harmful chemicals when confronted by the possibility of Lyme disease or Zika virus.  Thankfully you don’t need to.  Here’s Mark Wilson, President of Natural Repellents LLC, holding his ground-breaking product Tick Killz, a natural insecticide made from 100% organic ingredients and safe for children, pets, beneficial insects, and the environment.  It controls deer and other ticks, mosquitos, fleas, mites, and aphids, among other insects.  If you spray your property, this may be the product for you, 1 oz. makes 5 gallons.

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img_2268I wouldn’t consider using anything but organic potting soil and mulch to grow vegetables for my family (and even in my perennial gardens).  Coast of Maine makes 100% organic products using predominantly lobster and crab shells mixed with seaweed and blueberry bush trimmings.  I have used their potting soil for containers at my family’s house in Maine with great results.   Their website has a store locator to help you find local nurseries carrying their products, click here, and Whole Foods carries them.

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img_2279Unlike most nurseries, I mix my own potting soil using compost with ProMix added to lighten it.  ProMix has a high proportion of sphagnum/peat moss, which cannot be sustainably harvested.  Ground coconut hulls or coir is a sustainable product, and the condensed block above, which yields this wheelbarrow-full when water is added, reduces transportation and storage costs.  However, the product is made in Sri Lanka so I am not sure where I come out.

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img_2284The folks from Jolly Gardener have just introduced a new line of organic soils and mixes.  I always want to support companies who decide to take the organic route!

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50601438057__5a52bfc7-9c6c-4098-ad06-d5e92ecab530Given the trend towards legalization and what a big business this is becoming, I was surprised there wasn’t more marketing to this specialized segment of the green industry.

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img_2278Another fun aspect of MANTS is seeing the lengths exhibitors go to attract attendees to their booths.  This tree touched the roof of the convention center, and the holly and evergreen next to it are huge too.
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img_2273Michael standing next to the biggest tree spade I have ever seen.
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img_2281Amazing boxwoods
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downtown-baltimore-1-12-2017-5-28-05-pmBaltimore is a fun city to visit.  We had a delicious dinner at Woodberry Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant located in a charming re-purposed factory.
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Fort McHenry, BaltimoreWe visited Fort McHenry, a late 18th century, star-shaped fort guarding the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.   Francis Scott Key composed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814 about the flag flying at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore against the British in the War of 1812.
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orpheus-statue-fort-mchenry-1-12-2017-2-51-48-pmOn the grounds of Fort McHenry, you will find this somewhat startling 24 foot statue of the Greek mythological figure Orpheus on a 15 foot tall base and clothed in nothing but a fig leaf.  It was commissioned in 1914 to commemorate Francis Scott Key for the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore even though “The Star-Spangled Banner” did not become our national anthem until 1931.  Click here to read the rather humorous background of the statue.

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Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Native Fall Color at Longwood Gardens

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, garden to visit, green gardening, native plants, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

 

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A view across the lake of the color in Peirce’s Woods, an area of native plants.

We have been having one of the most beautiful falls that I can remember.  Every day is bright and sunny, between 50 and 60 degrees F (10 to 15.6 degrees C) except when we have just the right amount of rain. The fall color on trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials is spectacular.  I am blessed to live in an area where I can enjoy one of nature’s most majestic shows just by walking outside my door.  So I decided to post photos for gardeners in the US and abroad who don’t experience this amazing prelude to winter.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, native to PA.

All but two of these photos were taken during a visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, US, on November 2.  Every plant is native to the US and most to Pennsylvania (PA), which is part of the mid-Atlantic.  A similar color riot is still going on today, November 12, in my own PA garden.

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Pitcher plants, Saracenia, native to PA, even the planters near Peirce’s Woods are filled with natives. 

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Hydrangea quercifolia

One of my top five shrubs: oakleaf hydrangea, H. quercifolia, and fall color is a big part of that along with gorgeous flowers, tropical-looking leaves, peeling cinnamon bark, and its status as a native albeit slightly south of PA.

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Hydrangea quercifolia

The words “jewel-like color” were made for oakleaf hydrangea. 

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Cornus florida

Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, native to PA, one of the best small trees for fall color not to mention spectacular flowers and fruit as well as a unique and elegant habit.  This is a young specimen.

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Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, a PA native with beautiful flowers in the late spring.  Great for creating a grove in dense shade and dry soil.

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Fothergilla gardenii

Fothergilla, F. gardenii, native just south of PA, provides a mix of oranges, reds, and yellows that lasts a long time.  In the spring it sports lovely fragrant flowers.

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Looking across the lake towards Peirce’s Woods, the red tree to the left of center is a red maple, Acer rubrum, and the smaller peachy tree to the right is sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum.
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Acer rubrum
Red maple is a shade tree native to PA.  It colors early so I was surprised to find it still stealing the show.  Here is a view from the other side looking down at the lake.
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Oxydendrum arboreum
Sourwood, also known as dead man’s fingers due to the unusual habit of its flowers, is a smaller flowering tree native to PA with many ornamental attributes including unbelievable fall color.
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Taxodium distichum 'Prarie Sentinel'‘Prairie Sentinel’ pond cypress, Taxodium ascendens, has a more upright habit than its cousin the bald cypress and is native just south of PA.
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Acer saccharum
For all-round large shade tree, I would nominate the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, native to PA.  Photos don’t do its color justice, and large specimens have a habit that is purely regal.  This one is a youngster.
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Calycanthus 'Hartlage Wine'

I had to throw in this photo from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens of ‘Hartlage Wine’ allspice, Calycanthus raulstonii.  Top five shrubs again with absolutely gorgeous, bright yellow fall color; long-lasting, exquisite, large red flowers; and big, shiny, smooth blue-green leaves.  It is a native hybrid.

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Also from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, another favorite tree native to PA, yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea.

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Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.  Please indicate if you will be shopping at the nursery or are mail order only.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Mt. Cuba Part One: Formal Gardens

Posted in garden to visit, green gardening, landscape design, native plants, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 12-54-50 PMThe Colonial Revival manor house built at Mt. Cuba in 1935 by the Lammot du Pont Copelands.

For Mother’s Day my family surprised me with a visit to Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Although I had visited this garden in the early 1990s before it was open to the public, I haven’t been there since.  What a mistake!  I was so enthralled by what I saw that I went back three days later to explore the gardens more thoroughly.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 12-56-17 PMThe courtyard in front of the manor house as well as the gardens surrounding it are all very formal.

Mt.  Cuba Center is the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland.  Mr. Copeland was the President and Chairman of the Du Pont Company while Mrs. Copeland was a pioneer in the movement to protect and appreciate US native plants.  In the 1960s, the Copelands began installing extensive native, woodland gardens on their 582 acre property.  In the 1980s, they focused their efforts on developing a private botanic garden to study native plants of the Appalachian Piedmont.  When Mrs. Copeland died in 2001, Mt. Cuba became a public garden with limited access.  In 2013, it was opened for general admission in the spring, summer, and fall.

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 1-23-16 PMThe house is beautiful from every angle, here the terraces in the back.

Mrs. Copeland wanted Mt. Cuba:

…. to be a place where people will learn to appreciate our native plants and to see how these plants can enrich their lives so that they, in turn, will become conservators of our natural habitats.”

With that goal in mind, the Copelands developed the 50 acres surrounding their home into display gardens highlighting native plants in formal and informal settings.  All of it is spectacular, and I hope to write two more posts on the woodland gardens and the trillium collection.  This post will focus on the use of native plants in the formal gardens directly around the house.

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 1-22-17 PMThe view from the terraces.

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 1-31-27 PM.

Plants native to the US and particularly the Delaware Valley are a favorite of mine so I loved every part of Mt. Cuba, but I was most intrigued by the use of natives in the formal mixed borders.  Mt. Cuba demonstrates that native plants work just as well around the house as “foundation plantings” as they do out in woodland gardens where they are usually found.  In the following photos, almost all the plants are native species found on the East Coast of the United States or cultivars of natives:

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-46-16 AM

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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 1-24-44 PM
dwarf ninebark and native azaleas
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Baptisia 'Carolina Moonlight'‘Carolina Moonlight’ baptisia
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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-48-15 AM.
Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-8-2016 12-57-01 PMOakleaf hydrangea as a foundation planting.
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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-51-50 AM.
Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-50-02 AMGoldenstar, Chrysogonum virginianum, as a groundcover.
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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-47-16 AMContainers filled with native plants decorate the terraces.
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Mt. Cuba formal gardens 5-13-2016 10-46-51 AM
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If you would like more information about using native plants in a formal design, click here for an interview on this subject with Travis Beck, Mt. Cuba’s Director of Horticulture.  He states that native plants were chosen to achieve the character of an English garden without staking, fertilizing, or watering.  The all-native redesign of the formal gardens has resulted in a very significant increase in pollinators.

I hope that you will have a chance to visit Mt. Cuba Center and its amazing display of East Coast native plants.  I found it inspirational and a source of many ideas for my own gardens.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Strike a Blow for the Environment in your own Yard

Posted in garden essay, green gardening, groundcover, landscape design, my garden, native plants, organic gardening, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Senecio aureus

Golden groundsel, Senecio aureus, is the best native plant for ground cover.

I write a lot about the things we do at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens to support the environment: gardening organically without herbicides and chemical fertilizers, doing little supplemental watering, composting, mulching with ground leaves, getting rid of our lawn, landscaping with large quantities of native plants, and promoting natives at the nursery.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Carolyn's Shade Gardens Woodland

Our native white-flowered redbud surrounded by native plants.

You can read more about these practices in these posts among others: 

Your Native Woodland: If You Build it They Will Come, how to create your own woodland filled with native plants

My Thanksgiving Oak Forest, the importance of native plants to our survival

Your Most Precious Garden Resource, step-by-step guide to mulching with ground leaves 

Letting Go Part 1: The Lawn, the dangers of lawn chemicals to ourselves and the environment 

Do You Know Where Your Mulch Comes From?, toxic substances in shredded hardwood mulch

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Carolyn's Shade Gardens woodland

Our woodland in April with Virginia bluebells, wild ginger, golden groundsel, and mayapples—all native.

My guide to creating a native woodland has been especially popular.  However, most gardeners don’t have vast areas of woods to convert to native plants but still want to make a difference.  And I am sure that most people realize that planting three milkweed plants, though admirable and to be encouraged, is not going to save the monarch butterflies.  So what can you do? 

.Viola striata

Native white violets, Viola striata, used in quantity as an edging along the front of a border.  The violets spread rapidly by seed, filling in empty areas and preventing weeds.

One solution is to find ways to include large quantities—a critical mass—of native plants in your garden, no matter what size.  You can accomplish this by replacing non-native ground covers like pachysandra, vinca, ivy, euonymus, and turf grass with native ground cover plants.  It is easy to do and you can start small by using spreading native plants like the violets above as edging for your existing beds.  Soon you will be eliminating whole swathes of your lawn!  Here are some more ideas of plants to use:

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Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty'
Native ‘Purple Beauty’ moss phlox, P. subulata, used as an edging.
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Phlox subulata 'Emerald Blue'

This patch of native ‘Emerald Blue’ moss phlox has been in place for at least a decade and requires no maintenance at all.  It is evergreen so is present year round like pachysandra but provides you with beautiful flowers and the native insects with food.  Its mat-like habit excludes all weeds.

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Phlox subulata 'Nice 'n White'

Native ‘Nice ‘n White’ moss phlox used to replace non-native vinca, which you can see behind it.  This location is quite shady and the moss phlox thrives.  All it needs is good drainage.

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Phlox subulata 'Nice 'n White'

Our original planting of native ‘Nice ‘n White’ moss phlox is filling in to create a solid blanket while we continue to move down the hill adding new plants.

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Iris cristata 'Tennessee White'

Native ‘Tennessee White’ dwarf crested iris, Iris cristata, used to edge our raised beds.  I expect these clumps to double in size by next spring.

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Senecio aureus

Native golden groundsel, Senecio aureus, the yellow flower in the photo above and the first photo, makes the best ground cover of any native plant.  It spreads aggressively and is evergreen and mat-forming like pachysandra but also produces beautiful, fragrant flowers suitable for cutting.  Like pachysandra it is too aggressive to be mixed with other plants, but unlike the pachysandra in our area it is not subject to alfalfa mosaic virus.

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Chrysognum virginianum 4-26-2016 11-47-39 AM

Native goldenstar, Chrysogonum virginianum, is another creeping plant that makes a good edger.

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Chrysognum virginianum 4-26-2016 11-47-51 AM

Because the goldenstar was working so well at the edge, we decided to replace a whole section of our lawn with it.

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Phlox stolonifera 'Sherwood Purple'

Two years ago we replaced another section of our lawn with native ‘Sherwood Purple’ creeping phlox, P. stolonifera.  This phlox grows in part to full shade and forms a flat, weed-choking mat that stays green all winter.

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Aster cordifolius

Native blue wood aster, Aster cordifolius, replaced another section of lawn at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens that surrounded a gigantic black walnut.

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Aster cordifolius

Native blue wood aster blooms in the fall and grows in part to full shade.

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Doug Tallamy explains in his amazing book Bringing Nature Home* that we can make a difference for the environment and the plants and animals (including us) which are struggling to survive there, by planting native plants in our suburban gardens.  I hope I have given you some good ideas for accomplishing this laudable goal.

*Profiled in my blog post My Thanksgiving Oak Forest.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

What’s Going on at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens This Fall?

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, green gardening, How to, landscape design, my garden, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Fall 2014 at CSGFall is a beautiful time of year in the CSG gardens, especially right now while the sugar maples are turning.

Blog followers who are also customers received an email in September letting them know that our nursery would not be selling plants this fall.  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (“CSG”) has gotten so busy in the last five years that we have been unable to do anything besides sell plants.  By remaining closed this fall, we hoped to better prepare for spring, complete some much needed garden renovations, and make some capital improvements to our potting and shipping areas.  This post will show exactly what we have accomplished so far.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Leaf mulch and pine needles CSGCSG uses a staggering amount of ground leaves to mulch the garden beds, and an equally large amount of pine needles to cover all of our paths.  The photo above shows our stock pile for spring once the beds have been mulched and the paths refreshed (so the actual amount required is a lot more).  The piles are about five feet high and wider than tall.  Our own massive deciduous trees provide the leaves, which we grind in the driveway with a lawnmower.  The pine needles are collected from the sides of local roads. 

We highly recommend mulching with ground leaves.  For step-by-step instructions with photos, click here.  If you don’t want to do it yourself, my son and his business Practiced Hands Gardening can supply the ground leaves and do the mulching for you.  Just email him at practicedhandsgardening@gmail.com.

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CSG Terrace Renovation Fall 2014Extensive renovations have been completed to the terrace by our front door.  The grass was removed so that we no longer have to haul a lawnmower down the narrow stone steps.  We decided to try pine needles as a replacement.  They are free and easy to install and refresh plus I like the look with the newly installed stepping stone path.  Gravel might have been more suitable from a design standpoint, but the area floods occasionally so we decided to try pine needles first.  We also added more of many of the perennials that were working and eliminated some perennials that had self-sown to  overwhelm other plants.

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CSG Rock Garden Renovation Fall 2014The back of the rock garden on the first terrace is also being renovated.  The area had filled in with vinca and self-sown garden phlox.  We are adding a lot more stones and hope to create a path through the middle for ease of viewing.

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Transplant Magnolia sieboldii Fall 2014We have moved a lot of trees and shrubs like this double Magnolia sieboldii, one of my favorites, which was planted at the bottom of the garden where the drainage is poor.  Magnolias like to be well-drained so we moved it to a drier area up by the house.

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Csg Bulbs Fall 2014Six hundred pots of perennials are planted in the fall for spring sales.  Here they are stacked next to our carport with an initial covering of ground leaves.  Eventually the cover will be six inches thick.  Some perennials do not do well in pots so we also plant a lot of stock in the ground in the fall.

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CSG Snowdrop Propagation Fall 2014Snowdrops are propagated in the fall and planted in the ground for spring sales.

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CSG Mini Hosta Propagation Fall 2014The photo above shows 21 crates containing 820 miniature hostas.  We usually only winter over  20 to 30 leftover mini hostas.  However, this year several of my wholesale hosta suppliers decided to close their businesses.  I purchased and divided extra plants in the spring of cultivars that I want to try to keep going myself only to find out in September that my main mini hosta supplier, with whom I had already placed my spring 2015 order, was going out of business.  We decided to take as much of our order as was left in stock and potted them up this fall.  At least for spring 2015, many of your favorites, including several of the mouse ears, will still be available.  Sadly, a lot of great minis like ‘Appletini’ and ‘Crumb Cake’ will no longer be available in the trade.

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DSCN5354There is a lot more to do outside, but we are also hoping to make some significant capital improvements in the carriage house to make potting the plants we grow here and shipping snowdrops and mini hostas more comfortable and efficient.  Believe it or not we have spent weeks cleaning out this area in preparation for the renovations, but there is a lot more to do.

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Fall 2014 at CSGMore of the trees that power the CSG gardens with their leaves.

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Fall 2014 at CSG.

Fall 2014 at CSG.

Enjoy fall,

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notifications of catalogues, sales, and events at the nursery by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Longwood Gardens: The New Meadow Garden

Posted in garden to visit, green gardening, landscape design, native plants, sustainable living with tags , , , , , on September 5, 2014 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

.Senna didymobotrya, candalabra-treeThe entrance garden outside the visitor’s center at Longwood is lush and tropical right now.

Michael and I are members of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, US, and visit on a regular basis.  We have been excitedly awaiting the opening of Longwood’s new meadow garden.  We visited the meadow this week and were very impressed.

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Longwood September 2014 9-3-2014 11-05-48 AMA longer view of the entrance.

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Longwood September 2014 9-3-2014 11-10-25 AMAnother pretty entrance to the rose arbor.

The scope of the project is immense.  The garden is 86 acres filled with native plants appropriate to a meadow habitat.  There are three miles of walking trails through the meadow and its environs.  What Longwood has created in this meadow through ecological management of the property for native plants and animals is breathtaking and magical.  I highly recommend a visit right now because the meadow is at its peak.  However, for those of you who aren’t local, a virtual tour follows.  Keep in mind that photos cannot truly convey the amazing diversity and breadth of this project.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 12-08-49 PMA patch of Joe Pye weed in a sea of goldenrod, sunflowers, and other native plants.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 12-07-27 PM.

Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 12-04-05 PMNative grasses in the meadow area in front of Longwood’s scenic barn complex.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-42-22 AMThe newly restored Webb farmhouse, built in the 16th century by one of the original landowners, houses a very informative exhibit on the history of the area and the evolution of the meadow through the seasons.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-33-26 AMThree miles of trails circle and crisscross the meadow.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-31-52 AMThe native sunflowers really stand out.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-51-56 AM.

Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-29-50 AM

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Helianthus sp, Joe Pye

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-39-49 AMBands of color through the meadow are created by swathes of different plants.

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Pycnanthemum viginicum, mountian-mintSome areas are still filling in so the meadow will look even better next year.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-44-54 AMLongwood’s bluebird box program is over 30 years old and fledges an average of 170 bluebirds a year.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 12-37-27 PMOver 1,100 native trees and shrubs have been added to the woodland edges bordering the meadow.

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Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-32-54 AM.

Longwood Gardens Meadow 2014 9-3-2014 11-26-50 AM.

The pictures make the beauty look subtle, but it’s not.  The sensation of walking through the meadow with the sun shining, the bees buzzing, the butterflies nectaring, the birds collecting seeds, and the grasses swaying in the breeze cannot be captured in a photo.  If you can visit Longwood, try to do it now so you can share our magical experience.

I will leave you with the following quotation, for me the answer to the ending question is a resounding yes:

“What if, instead of depicting nature, we allowed nature in? What if, instead of building and maintaining artistic creations, we worked to develop and manage living systems? What could we learn . . . about how nature works? Could we create landscapes that were more efficient, more connected, more effective, and ultimately more valuable?”

Travis Beck, Director of Horticulture Mt. Cuba Center

Carolyn

P.S.  I am excited to report that the stat counter for Carolyn’s Shade Gardens blog has now recorded over 1,000,000 views.  Thank you to all my readers all over the world!

Nursery Happenings:   You can sign up to receive notification emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net. Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information. If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

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