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7. Fantastic Ferns Bring Softness Into The Garden

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

Nature was surely in a gentle mood when she created the ferns.

—Henry and Rebecca Northern

Ostrich Fern

Most gardeners assume that ferns require shade. True, most of them do. But sun-worshipping gardeners will be pleased to learn that several ferns grow well in sun. There is one overriding caveat: they all require a consistently moist planting site. Only then are they able to provide an airy, feathery texture to your sun garden.

On the popular website davesgarden. com, there is a 2008 article detailing ferns that can tolerate sun. In it Todd Boland, research horticulturist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden, explains that ferns have had a rather checkered history. They were in high demand during the Victorian era, especially in the United Kingdom, and then became favored only by specialty gardeners. Thanks to colorful Asian Painted Fern availability, ferns are once again sought after. They are recommended as companion plants for hostas and have become a staple for the shade garden. Ferns are used as focal points, planted in a mass to create textural interest, employed as a ground cover, and incorporated in sunny perennial gardens.

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2. Planting Requirements What Is Necessary For Success?

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

The mostly unrecognized truth is that our yards and gardens need to function in much the same way as a wilderness area does.

—Marlene Condon

Wild Petunia

This book is full of specific details about hundreds of native plants. Yet several general considerations pertain to all of them. Success is determined by choosing a site for each plant with proper light, moisture, soil type, and pH. Each plant description includes a segment entitled Plant Requirements. Most are brief and not overly complex. You may wonder, “What is average, well-drained garden soil?” so let’s begin with soil.

Soil is usually sand, silt, clay, or a combination, often referred to as loam. Sandy soil has the largest particles. It is impossible to make a ball out of moistened sandy soil that will hold its shape. Water drains quickly so this type of soil often loses nutrients. Moisture-loving plants need additional water in sandy sites.

Clay has the smallest particles so although it hangs onto nutrients and retains water, it has poor drainage. Plants that enjoy wet or consistently moist sites often thrive in clay soil, but those that require well-drained soil do not. Their roots will rot. All plants need a certain amount of air around their roots. Clay is considered heavy soil and can dry rock hard in drought. Make a ball out of clay soil and it will remain a ball. Some potters make permanent figures or containers with clay soil. I have a small statue of a woman that my son purchased in Haiti. It is as hard as if it had been fired, but was dried naturally in the hot sun.

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3. Planning a Garden? Start With Trees

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

Trees . . . frame, anchor, and connect all the elements to the sky.

—Ezra Haggard

Trees, regardless of size, come in a variety of shapes, including spreading, rounded, open, pyramidal, or weeping. Trees of any size or shape can provide cool shade, beautiful fall color, bark interest, and even spring flowers. They give shelter to birds, offer larval food and nectar for butterflies, and encourage wildlife to check out your property. Walk through your neighborhood or watch as you drive through suburban areas to determine what sizes and shapes command your attention and might contribute to your overall landscape design.

Tulip Poplar

Is your property brand new with a newly built house and a blank yard just waiting for help? Or does it already have mature trees casting long shadows or creating dancing patterns of light and shade throughout the day? The title of this book is Got Sun? It assumes you do have sun and that you yearn to learn what to plant in those sunny spots.

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4. Superb Shrubs Absolute Essentials

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

One of the great pleasures of gardening lies in that basic promise of a garden—that each is its owner’s attempt at creating a personal paradise on earth.

—Allen Paterson

Sweetfern

When homeowners plan their landscapes, they usually begin by creating a want list. As noted in the previous chapter, the first item on that list is a usually a tree. The next item is invariably flowers. But let us not hasten to the consideration of annuals and perennials.

Are trees and flowers important? Of course, but shrubs are even more so. In fact, they may be the main component necessary to unify your home landscape. As the chapter title states, they are absolute essentials. Some will question that statement, so pause for a moment to decide whether you agree. What qualities can a shrub bring to your yard? Do they really serve any function other than to disguise the foundation of the house?

Begin by imagining a typical affordable ranch-style house set on a plot of green grass. The entire street is filled with similar houses planted squarely in the middle of each rectangle of turf grass. Except for the house, the grass stretches nearly unbroken on both sides of the street.

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Appendix: Native Plant And Botanical Societies

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

Nature is a good teacher. We can learn many valuable lessons about gardening by observing plants growing in the wild.

—C. Colston Burrell

NATIVE PLANT SOCIETIES

Alabama

Alabama Wildflower Society

271 County Rd. 68

Killen, AL 35645

www.alwildflowers.org

Alaska

Alaska Native Plant Society

P.O. Box 141613

Anchorage, AK 99514-1613

http://AKNPS.org

Arizona

Arizona Native Plant Society

Sun Station, P.O. Box 41206

Tucson, AZ 85717-1206

www.aznps.org

Arkansas

Arkansas Native Plant Society

10145 Dogwood Lane

Dardanelle, AR 72834

www.anps.org

California

California Botanical Society

Jepson Herbarium, University of California

1101 Valley Life Science Building

Berkeley, CA 94720-2465

www.calbotsoc.org

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