Archive for Douglas Tallamy

Native Plants for June and Beyond

Posted in garden to visit, green gardening, landscape design, my garden, native plants, organic gardening, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2019 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Indian pink or spigelia is the most requested plant at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.  None of our suppliers have any luck growing it in pots, so we are trying to grow it ourselves for sale in 2020.

A long time ago, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens made sustainable practices one of its missions.   We have fulfilled this in many ways, including making a wide range of native plants available to our customers, showcasing native plants in our display gardens, and getting rid of our lawn.  Since we purchased the property in 1983, all our gardens have been maintained organically without herbicides, chemical fertilizers, or supplemental water.  We mulch with ground leaves, and never use potentially toxic hardwood mulch.

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 to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and cell 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.

 

The long spires of black cohosh are one of the highlights of our garden in June.

You can read more about our sustainable practices and why they are important in these posts: 

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

Your Native Woodland: If You Build it They Will Come, Part 2, more native plants for your woodland

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 humans, pets, and the environment 

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

Strike a Blow for the Environment in your own Yard, how to incorporate large quantities of native plants into your garden

Looking back over these posts, I realized that many of them feature native plants that bloom in the spring.  As 2/3 of the plants in our display gardens are native, I wanted to highlight some of the summer- and fall-blooming varieties.  Every photo is taken in our garden, and every plant is native, most to Pennsylvania.  If you want to know the Latin name, click on the photo.

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We have two gigantic walnuts in our display gardens and have no trouble growing native plants under them.  Shown here is oakleaf hydrangea, my favorite of all the hydrangeas, surrounded by blue wood asters, which bloom in October.

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My favorite oakleaf hydrangea is ‘Snowflake’ with gorgeous double flowers.  Double flowers are not as good for pollinators, so the majority of our oakleafs have single flowers.

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Blue wood asters and foamflowers make a weed-free groundcover under our walnuts.

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Coral bells or heucheras add color to the garden all season.  However, many of the coral bells marketed to gardeners do not grow well in the mid-Atlantic.  At Carolyn’s Shade Gardens we only sell heucheras that thrive in this region, including my favorite ‘Berry Smoothie’.

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Our woodland is quiet in summer and fall but blooming along the entrance path is the native shrub, flowering raspberry.  I love it for its light green almost tropical leaves and large raspberry-colored flowers.

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Maidenhair ferns with their delicate and unusual leaf pattern and wiry black stems are ornamental all season.  They spread slowly to make a bigger and bigger patch.

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Our Ashe magnolia with its gigantic white flowers just finished blooming.  At its feet are sweeping stands of culver’s root, which will bloom in late July and August.

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White baneberry is just starting to make its creepy fruit, which looks just like its other common name: doll’s eyes.  I like everything about this plant—its delicate shrub-like habit, lovely white flowers, and unique berries.

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The yellow and green variegated leaves of ‘Golden Shadows’ pagoda dogwood are beautiful all season, while the spiderwort at its base produces lovely blue flowers now, and the New York ironweed next to it will bloom in August and September.

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Giant Solomon’s seal on the right towers over non-native Solomon’s seal to its left.  In the foreground is twinleaf, whose elegant and unsual leaves look good all season.

.Evergreen hart’s tongue fern (in front) provides interest all year.  In the back, our gigantic stand of bottlebrush buckeye is getting ready to put on its breath-taking show.

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We have had no luck with native bleeding-hearts, which we have tried in many different locations in the garden, until it planted itself in the stump of our dead ash tree.  Sometimes you have to let the plants decide where they want to grow!

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Indian pink on the left with variegated ‘Oehme’ palm sedge on the right and fall-blooming blue stemmed goldenrod at its base.  Palm sedge is a great grass for shade—it happily grows in full shade in our garden.

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Indian pink enjoys this sunny, dry location, even re-blooming in the fall.  Over it is a fringe tree, which blooms in late spring.

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We are not native plant purists as our business also specializes in snowdrops, hellebores, and hostas.  However, we believe that gardeners should try to incorporate as many native plants in their gardens as possible for the reasons that author Doug Tallamy so eloquently describes in his ground-breaking book Bringing Nature Home.  It’s not about saving the planet: it’s about the survival of humans, including our children and grandchildren, on the planet.

Carolyn

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Nursery Happenings: You can sign up to receive catalogues and emails about nursery events by sending your full name, location, and cell number (for back up contact use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  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 interested in mail order snowdrops 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 only within the US.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a very active 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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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.

My Thanksgiving Oak Forest

Posted in books, green gardening, native plants with tags , on November 26, 2010 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

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.

You are probably wondering why I posted this picture of a red oak seedling that looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  It’s because this tree is the beginning of the oak forest that we are planting after reading Doug Tallamy’s book Bringing Nature Home.  In fact, I think we will name this new area of our gardens the Tallamy Copse in honor of the person who is doing the most to alert this country to the silent crisis facing our native plants and animals, and us.

Doug Tallamy, Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, finally made me understand why native plants are crucial to our survival on this planet.  Yes, being a somewhat evolved horticulturalist, I knew native plants were desirable.  But I thought it was just because they were native and better adapted.  And the native plant movement really turned me off with its insistence on exclusively native plantings, not even approving of native cultivars.  But it was Tallamy’s simple and insightful analysis that brought the whole problem into focus.

Tallamy calls our home gardens “the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the US.”  Biodiversity is no longer out there in undeveloped areas of the country, because out there no longer exists.  He gives these sobering statistics about the US:

  • as our population soars, 2 million acres of land are developed every year
  • we have paved 4 million miles of roads
  • we have planted 40 million acres of lawn, a non-native monoculture
  • 3,400 species of alien plants have invaded 100 million acres: this will double in five years
  • 54% of the continental US is cities or suburbs and 41% is agricultural, making 95% of US land unable to support native plants and animals

According to Tallamy, research shows that removing 95% of our land from nature will result in the extinction of 95% of the species that live there.  The result for Pennsylvania right now is dire: 800 plant and animal species listed as rare, threatened, or endangered, and 150 gone for good.  And, in case there were any doubts, biodiversity is what keeps us humans alive by generating oxygen, cleaning water, buffering extreme weather, recycling our garbage, etc.

What to do?  Tallamy identifies the answer as planting native plants to support native insects and allow them to pass biomass up the food chain.  The plants must be native because of their shared evolutionary history with native animals.  Native insects do not eat non-native plants.  For example, Kousa dogwood supports no native insects, while our native dogwood supports 117 species of moths and butterflies alone.

That’s where my red oak grove comes into play.  At a lecture I attended, Tallamy stated that if you were only going to do one thing, then plant an oak.  Native oak trees support 534 species of butterflies and moths.  For Thanksgiving, my husband cleared out an area at the bottom of our property that was filled with Japanese knotweed,  goutweed, lesser celandine, privet, bittersweet, multiflora rose, Norway maples, and burning bush—none of it planted by us—and moved five oak seedlings there.  It is the beginning of a native forest, and the only way I can deal with the enormity of what Tallamy has so eloquently described.  I hope you will join me by planting your own oak.

The statistics above are mostly paraphrased from a September 2007 article written by Tallamy for the Hardy Plant Society: Mid Atlantic Group (a great group of people who love plants—check out their website).  His book Bringing Nature Home is a must read, and his website has great information too.  If you ever get a chance to hear him lecture, take it—he’s excellent.

Carolyn

red oak seedling at Carolyn's Shade Gardens

This collage pictures the five native red oak trees my husband planted plus the mother oak.  December 30, 2010.

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