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Medium 9780253009319

11. Final Thoughts Can We Make A Difference?

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

The earth is a house that belongs to us all.

—Cheryl Piperberg

Royal Catchfly

Gardening with native plants is becoming popular for good reason. Planting natives makes constant watering and fertilizing unnecessary. These plants know how to deal with weather patterns, how to survive the feast and famine of moisture, and how to put down deep roots to gather the last vestiges of food hidden in those tiny particles of soil. Leave for a vacation during a drought and return home to find your natives blooming their heads off, while the nonnatives sulk on the ground—or worse.

There are plants to avoid and plants to encourage for good and sound reasons. We can avoid planting those exotic plants that are known escape artists. Wouldn’t you like to get your hands on the individuals who brought Dandelions and Garlic Mustard to the Western Hemisphere? Some may ask, “Does it really matter what I plant on my private property?” You bet it does! Exotic Norway Maples are displacing native Sugar Maples. Amur Maples and supposedly infertile Bradford Pear seedlings are popping up in wild spaces. What I call the Terrible Three ground covers—Myrtle (Vinca minor), Purple Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’), and Ivy (Hedera spp.)—have each been found carpeting woodlands. Commonly used Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), and Japanese Spiraea (Spiraea japonica) have escaped to the wild, displacing native species and destroying habitat. Essential food and nesting sites for wildlife are disappearing. Some native plants are even threatened with extinction.

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Medium 9780874217094

Chapter Seven. The Plant Palette

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Littlecup penstemon

This chapter contains the specific information you will need to choose the plants that will populate your native landscape. The species we have included in the Plant Palette were chosen from hundreds of native candidate species based on several criteria. First, the plant had to be attractive, if not astonishingly beautiful. This, of course, is somewhat a matter of opinion, and the list adopted here is the result of working and reworking by several knowledgeable people with different tastes. Second, the plant had to be relatively quick and easy to grow in container culture in a nursery setting. We avoided certain favorites, like sego lily, that have proven slow and difficult to produce. Work continues on many of these hard-to-grow plants, and the time may come when they will be commercially available. For now, we concentrated on plants that are either already available or could be brought on line quickly if warranted by demand. And lastly, the plant had to be at least somewhat tolerant of the abuses that are frequently encountered in residential landscapes. Too much water, too much mulch, too much fertility, and too much competition from other plants are some common forms of abuse. Not all of the plants we included are entirely foolproof in this regard, but, by using the information provided for each plant, you should be able to create favorable conditions in your landscape for even the more finicky species. We narrowed down the list of plants covered in the Plant Palette to one hundred species that we consider to be the core species for creating regionally distinctive landscapes in the Intermountain West. Many more species could have been included, and it is perfectly fine to use species not included in this book in your native plant landscapes. Just get the information you need to meet plant cultural requirements (water, soil, light, and cold hardiness) and make sure that the plants you select really are native to the intermountain area. “Native” is a somewhat slippery concept, in that plants can be native to a very restricted area, a state, a region, a country, or a continent, and a few plants are naturally cosmopolitan (worldwide) in distribution. But just because a plant grows wild in a region does not mean that it is native to the region. Many species native to other places have been deliberately or accidentally introduced into the wild plant communities of our region. If you have any questions about whether a particular plant is native to the region, a good Internet resource is: plants.usda.gov.

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Medium 9780253219763

Seven Autumn

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Pronounced:

ah-NEM-oh-nee

Also known as:

windflower, lily-of-the-field

Family:

Ranunculaceae

Colors:

pink, white, rose

Zones:

4–8

Height:

2½–5 feet

Description: There are approximately 120 species of perennial types of anemones, native mostly to the North Temperate Zone, often to mountainous regions. Leaves are usually more or less divided and form a ring below the flowers, which are held high in umbels on stiff stems. Their sepals are the showy part of the flower and there are no actual petals, but many stamens and pistils. The fall-blooming tall anemones are usually referred to as Japanese anemones (A. japonica) and are single pink flowers that were first found growing near Shanghai by Robert Fortune, a nineteenth-century plant explorer. The current name derives from the fact that they grow well in Japan. Some are hybrids and spread by rhizomes to form large clumps. ‘Honorine Jobert’ is white, ‘Queen Charlotte’ is a semi-double pink cultivar, and ‘Margareta’ is a double pink. A. tomentosa var. ‘Robustissima’ is the most hardy and adaptable.

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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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Medium 9780874217094

Chapter Three. How to Water Native Landscapes

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Mountain lover and Bigtooth maple

The next step in the process of designing and installing a native landscape is to deal explicitly with how your plantings will be watered. Your completed planting plan shows the species that are to be planted into each area, as well as the spatial configuration of the planting. Each planting area has been designated as belonging to one of the five watering zones: minimal, low, medium, high, or very high. Now you will decide the most efficient and best way to provide water to each watering zone. Plants in all zones will need to be watered during establishment, so there must be some way to get supplemental water into each area, at least initially. But only areas representing watering zones that will receive supplemental water on a regular basis will need more permanent irrigation systems. These are the zones that represent plant communities from places that receive more annual precipitation than your site and that cannot be situated in sufficiently favorable microsites to preclude the need for added water.

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Chapter Four. How to Install Native Landscapes

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Mountain ash

Throughout the process of designing your native landscape, it has been necessary to keep referring back to the realities of your site. Now it is time to go outside and make those changes that need to be made in order to prepare your site for its new inhabitants, and then to plant them in a way that guarantees that they will prosper. This will require planning. Much of this process will probably be familiar to you from other landscaping and gardening projects you have undertaken, but there are some things that are unique about native plant landscaping, and these require careful attention. Just how complex the process will be depends on several factors. First, you probably need to deal with removing at least some of the existing vegetation on your site, whether it is lawn, foundation plantings, new weeds that inevitably show up uninvited in recently-spread topsoil, or longstanding infestations of perennial weeds. Second, depending on the nature of your soil, you may need to do some soil replacement or terracing/ berming, or both, to create the drainage that your plants will need. These kinds of modifications may also be necessary even if you do not have drainage issues, for example, if you are trying to create a congenial place for plants from much drier water zones. And, as discussed in the design section, terracing or berming can also be used to create topographic relief solely for design purposes, not specifically to meet the cultural requirements of plants. You may also need to make some grade modifications in order to implement the water harvesting system you have designed. These two steps can be relatively simple or quite complex, depending on the magnitude of the changes you need to make.

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9. Graceful Grasses Listen To Them Sing

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

Of all the world’s flowering plants, the grasses are undoubtedly the most important to man.

—R. W. Pohl

Prairie Cordgrass

Grasses are the mainstay of our native tallgrass prairies, which once covered 170 million acres beginning at the Indiana/Illinois border where natural woodlands gradually melded into vast native grasslands. They stretched from eastern Illinois to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and covered land from the northern border of our country just below Saskatchewan all the way south to Texas. Iowa had the largest unbroken stretch of prairie, covering over 30 million acres. Only small remnants of this incredible ecosystem have survived. Yet rich deep soil still exists in testament to the deep roots and humus of those incredible grasses.

Early travelers referred to the prairies as “a sea of grass” where myriads of flowers in all colors of the rainbow bloomed. Pioneer diarists crossing the plains in their covered wagons extolled the glories of the seasons. Now only about 4 percent of our industrialized nation consists of native prairies, most of those restored remnants here and there. Yet recent sources still list over 800 species of non-woody flowering plants existing in these areas. Imagine how many more have been lost through development.

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Medium 9780253219763

Four Displaying Flowers

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

A house with daffodils in it
is a house lit up,
Whether or not the sun
be shining outside.
Daffodils in a green bowl—
and let it snow if it will.

—A. A. Milne

One of the benefits of growing perennials is the continual supply of cut flowers for the home and for sharing with neighbors and friends. Flowers, ideally already arranged in a container, are a hostess gift that is usually welcome. The busy hostess does not have to worry about finding a vase, cutting the stems, and putting them in water. Hopefully, the water will never spill in your car en route. If you transport a lot of flowers, keep a few bricks in your car to pack around flower containers. Small containers sometimes can be anchored in cup-holders, if your car has them, or in small cardboard boxes with crushed-up newspaper packed around them. Some passengers in cars will even willingly hold a vase full of flowers en route to an event. Should you be lucky enough to persuade a passenger in your car to cooperate in this way, be sure to put only a small amount of water in the flower container before you hand it over. Seat the person first, of course, and then place the vase either between the passenger’s feet on the floor, or into the person’s hands. I may be belaboring this point a bit here, but caution is important, for if a passenger arrives with wet clothes it is embarrassing to say the least.

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Medium 9780253219763

Three Flowers across Three Seasons

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Spring is exuberant
with promise.
Summer is lavish
with abundance.
Autumn is mellow,
yet bittersweet.

It is convenient to categorize the plants according to their seasons of bloom, though of course all herbaceous perennials (but not the bulbs) contribute foliage that creates the tapestry of our gardens in each of the three growing seasons.

So, in this chapter we will be considering flowering perennials that also have diverse growth patterns and attractive foliage. All characteristics of plants are important in garden design as flowering ebbs and flows. It takes some years to have complete continuity of bloom, and even an established perennial garden with a back-up of flowering shrubs, vines, and trees will sometimes have blank spots. Deer may be the culprits, but there are other innumerable possibilities for disasters that can occur. Of course, the larger the garden, the more insurance we have against times without any perennial in bloom. References such as lists of plants help us add more than one type of plant per timeframe to carry the show outside and to fill our vases inside. So there are lists in the appendices to provide a guide for choices of both short and tall growers, according to the times they bloom and the conditions they prefer.

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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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Medium 9780253009067

One: Shrubs Are Versatile

Moya L. Andrews Quarry Books ePub

No two gardens are the same.
No two days are the same in one garden.

—Hugh Johnson

Shrubs, and for that matter all plants, are characterized by their form, their texture, and their color. Form and color change with time and seasons, and while texture may become more apparent as a plant grows, its defining attributes are usually consistent. The weight or mass of shrubs in a landscape is always greater than that of herbaceous perennials and annuals, but less than that of trees. The outline or silhouette is related to the shrub’s form, but it will change with growth and also will be seen differently depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. The light conditions and the amount of obstruction presented by neighboring hardscape and buildings, as well as other plants, will also contribute to the way a shrub’s silhouette is perceived by a viewer. At different times of day shadows will also be cast by garden shrubbery, and every shrub will, of course, be seen differently in various seasons. In winter when there is snow cover, the silhouette of a deciduous shrub will be quite different from the one the shrub presents with its summer or fall foliage intact.

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Medium 9780253219763

Six Summer

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Pronounced:

jer-AY-nee-um

Also known as:

cranesbill, true geranium, hardy or wild geranium

Family:

Geraniaceae

Colors:

magenta, pink, purple, violet-blue, white

Zones:

4–8

Height:

up to 2 feet

Description: These are mostly short-statured, long-lived perennials with mounds of palmate (hand-like) leaves that are often toothed or lobed. Some species have colorful fall foliage. Blooms are simple cups with five petals. Members of the species may be tender or hardy and some may be evergreen in mild areas. Native to Europe, they are sometimes confused with the annual pelargoniums from South Africa which are also referred to as geraniums and are grown in pots during the summer. All are easy-care and pest-free.

Cultivation: They thrive in full sun or partial shade, though in hot summers they enjoy more protection from the sun. After the first flush of bloom (usually spring) is past, cut them back to an inch from the ground, and new leaves will grow and some varieties will re-bloom. Divide them in spring or fall. Useful as ground cover to discourage weeds, they combine well with dicentra, pulmonaria, celandine poppy, and coral bells in light shade. They are staples in cottage gardens and are pass-along plants.

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10. Rain Gardens Cleansing Storm Water With Native Plants

Carolyn A. Harstad Indiana University Press ePub

When you plant a rain garden in your yard, you mimic some of the benefits of the natural landscape.

—Rusty Schmidt

Rain garden drawing

In a Minnesota Public Radio segment on rain gardens, Stephanie Hemphill noted that a good midwestern summer storm can dump a lot of water in one place, occasionally flooding into sewer lines or even spewing untreated sewage into lakes and rivers. She added, “Cities across the country are spending millions of dollars to solve the problem.”

Especially in urban settings, sunny rain gardens featuring civilized native plants solve problems and make strong statements. Properly engineered and planted, these gardens can be striking, channel roof and driveway runoff to good use, reduce chemical applications and mowing, and break up the monotony of turf landscapes. Progressive municipal governments bent on reducing surges of water and chemicals in storm sewers may offer expertise and even dollars for carrying out your plan. In times of tension between citizens and government, a community of interest is refreshing.

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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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One An Inviting Garden

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Won’t you come into my garden?
I want my roses to see you.

Richard Sheridan

Those of us who love flowers, to an extent that other people might find hard to understand, have an intimate relationship with them. This relationship deepens as we ourselves mature and learn more about their distinctive features and how they impact us. We may start out responding to their colors, shapes, and forms, sensing that we feel something quite special in their presence. Perhaps we then begin to recognize the other attributes that particularly delight us, and yearn for flowers that have special perfumes, or ones that evoke memories of people or of places that were meaningful to us in our childhood or times past. At some point in our evolving understanding of the significant part that flowers play in our existence, we realize that flowers really are an essential aspect of our identity, and they can affect how we actually feel day by day.

We realize that they serve as our symbols of the seasons. We wait to see the first spring flowers each year and we feel a deep need to mark each event by savoring the flowers that are associated with special times. We look for the daffodils in the spring, Easter lilies at Easter, poinsettias at Christmas, and so on. Also, instead of just waiting hopefully for someone to give us flowers, we come to the understanding that they are essential to our well-being. So we become more proactive in seeking out opportunities to have flowers. At this point we usually give ourselves permission to buy flowers for ourselves. Fortunately, nowadays flowers are available year-round, and it is a happy thing for us since we can so easily pick up our favorites and pop them into our grocery carts as we shop for food. Flowers, we have come to understand, are indeed food for our souls.

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