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Chapter 5. How to Care for Native Landscapes

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Indian paintbrush

One of the main motives for using native plant landscaping in place of traditional landscaping is the idea that the native landscape will require fewer resources and less maintenance but will still look as beautiful as a traditional landscape. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we certainly believe that a well-designed and well-maintained native landscape is far more beautiful than a vast expanse of lawn punctuated only by a row of junipers and a concreterimmed bed of petunias. And it is easy to demonstrate that a native landscape will thrive with much lower resource inputs—less water, less fertilizer, fewer pesticides. But the question of maintenance requires closer examination.

Native landscapes do require less maintenance than traditional landscapes, but more importantly, the maintenance they require is strategic maintenance. Native landscape maintenance is not like the weekly grind of watering, spraying, fertilizing, and then mowing to remove the excess herbage generated by all that watering and spraying and fertilizing. It is not even like the regular and frequent attention that you need to give to a well-watered, well-fertilized vegetable garden. Native landscape maintenance is strongly seasonal and often quite flexible, much more flexible than traditional landscape maintenance. Sometimes weeks will go by with little to do in your landscape but enjoy it. But when the time comes to water, or to weed, or to prune and deadhead, native landscapes, like all landscapes, benefit from some concerted attention. Low maintenance is not “no maintenance,” just as xeriscape is not “zero-scape”—as it is often misstated in real estate ads in drier parts of the country. Basically, the maintenance tasks are watering, weeding, managing plant appearance, maintaining the hardscape and the irrigation system, and managing the mulch. This list is much like the list for any ornamental garden, but in a native landscape, the magnitude of these tasks is usually much reduced and focused over shorter time frames than in traditional landscaping.

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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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1: Position

Ken Crafer CABI PDF

1 

Position

1.1  The Evolution of the Garden Centre

Plants have been an essential component of life throughout human history,

­initially as a food source, but increasingly for their ornamental and aesthetic values. The development of home ownership and single household occupancy dwellings helped create the ornamental horticulture market that is seen today.

While plant nurseries are a long established concept, the use of the term

‘garden centre’ is far more recent and ill defined. Stewarts garden centres in

Dorset are amongst a number of businesses who claim to be the first in the UK, having seen the concept of growing hardy plants in containers for sale in Toronto,

Canada, in the mid-1950s (Stewarts Garden Centres, 2014). An embryonic industry using similar techniques was developing in the USA at this time. Regardless of the precise date, the sector has developed rapidly and has changed in all recognition from the earliest examples.

What have been these drivers for change?

1.1.1  Development of technologies for container plant production

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Two Work in Progress

Moya L Andrews Quarry Books ePub

Flower gardens are reflections
of their creators.
A garden, as well as the gardener,
is always a work in progress.

Each garden is unique, and it is never the same—day by day, season by season, year by year. Part of the joy of creating a garden is the continual sense of anticipation that comes as a result of partnering with Mother Nature, who is full of surprises. The process of raising flowers is itself instructive. Claude Monet said that perhaps he owed his becoming a painter to flowers. We expand our perceptions of colors, forms, shapes, perfumes, and permutations and combinations. We keep learning about design and elements of style through the medium of gardening. Change is inevitable. Established trees are uprooted by storms and shade gardens are transformed into sun gardens. Small trees mature and sun gardens are engulfed in shade. Water restrictions force us to investigate drought-tolerant plants. A visit to Vita Sackville-West’s garden at Sissinghurst, in England, moves us to create our own white garden. Whatever shifts in motivation and circumstances occur, there are perennials we can find to create the effects we need. We continually augment our collection, redesign beds to combine plants more effectively, use plants in new ways to avoid or compensate for past mistakes. Since perennials are persistent and forgiving plants, we get not only second chances but innumerable chances. The continuity aspect of working with perennials, in terms of both their lifespan and the recurrence of opportunity, is irresistible.

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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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