Archive for native plants for gardens

Designing with Native Plants

Posted in green gardening, How to, landscape design, native plants, sustainable living with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2020 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens


More and more of our customers are becoming interested in native plants, which we have been promoting since we opened our nursery in 1992.  If you would like to know more about why growing native plants is important to our survival, click here.  Now there is a design book, Native Plants for Small Yards by Kate Brandeis, that can help you seamlessly incorporate native plants into your landscape.

I am dedicating this post to doctors, nurses, and other health care workers all over the country who are still caring for very ill COVID-19 patients while the rest of us think about reopening.  This crisis has taken a terrible toll on them as shown in this excellent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer where three doctors discuss how they cope.  We owe it to them to continue to be careful and not spread the virus.

Nursery News:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed as a non-essential business until further notice.  Our 2020 Snowdrop Catalogue, which is sold out, is on line here.  If you would like to get email notification of the 2021 catalogue, please send your full name, cell number (for back up contact use only), and your address if mail order to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  We do not take advance orders for snowdrops.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  We sell plants from approximately December 15 to June 15. The only plants that we ship are snowdrops to US customers only.  For catalogues and announcements of local 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.

.Each design in the book begins with a rendering of what the garden will look like, here a back patio garden

The author begins by explaining why native plants are important and her purpose in writing the book: introducing readers to the beautiful native plants that are suitable for small, residential landscapes.  Brandeis wants to dispel the notion that native plants are messy, hard to manage, and do not fit in with suburban neighborhoods.  She then gives some general design advice and explains how to use the nine design templates in the book. 

Designs are provided for the following areas frequently found in small yards: corner gardens, mailbox plantings, water features, containers, downspout areas, rock walls, front porches, sidewalk strips, and back patios.

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A schematic drawing, plant list, and photos are provided for each design.

Each of the nine suggested designs is rendered in a schematic drawing, which is clearly labeled to show plant placement and the number of plants needed per square foot.  Next to the design is a list separating the plants by height and color coordinated with the design. 

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Alternate plant lists for varying cultural conditions are also provided.

The plants used in each schematic drawing are chosen for the conditions listed above the plan.  For example, the back patio design is for drier conditions and more shade.  However, on a third page for each design, the author provides alternate plant lists for varying conditions, also color coded for height and to show where they go on the plan.  For the back patio design, there are plant lists for drier areas with more sun, wetter areas with more shade, and wetter areas with more sun.  At the end of the design section, Brandeis explains how to install and maintain the gardens.

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There are four pages of full color drawings of invasive plants.

 

Even if you do not use the designs, the book is worth purchasing just for the resources in the back.  Appendix A features drawings of the 17 most common weeds, all of which we seem to have in our garden.  Appendix B has renderings of 13 invasive plants to be avoided. 

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The book includes an extensive table of Native Plants for Small Spaces.

There is a 13-page Native Plant Table, listing native shrubs, vines, perennials, and grasses for various light and soil conditions.  The table shows the scientific and common names, height, width, color, bloom time, and use in design for each plant as well as the plant’s light and moisture requirements and tolerance for deer, rabbits, heavy shade, drought, clay soil, black walnuts, etc.  Finally, Brandeis profiles ten small trees suitable for residential landscapes. 

If you wish to purchase this valuable and informative guide, it is available from the Lehigh Gap Nature Center located in Slatington, Pennsylvania.  It is a great time to support this nature center (and all nonprofits) as they have been closed down by COVID-19.  The book costs $10 plus postage and is available by emailing mail@lgnc.org.  It makes a great gift for all your gardening friends and relatives.

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Our woodland garden, which is filled predominantly with native plants, is in full bloom right now.  If you would like to see a video of our woodland in bloom, there is one on our Facebook page here, just scroll down past upcoming events to videos.

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Blogs are a lot more fun for everyone, especially the writer, when readers leave comments.  Scroll down to the end of the page to the box where it says “Leave a Reply” and start typing—-it’s easy!

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.

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.

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 5-13-2016 10-46-32 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.

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