I must admit, I have a very large lawn on my property. It takes me close to two hours a week to cut it during the growing season. Not exactly environmentally friendly, eh? Before you beat me down, I must tell you I never water it, never fertilize it and have slowly been chipping away at removing it by creating new garden beds. While a lawn provides a great play space for the kids and the green swath looks pretty damn nice in the spring, I am no longer much of a fan. The effort involved to maintain it is not worth it and for a plant lover like me, it really represents more of an opportunity to further bankrupt myself and create more garden beds.
Which leads me to a discussion on native plants. A native plant can be best defined as: a plant that occurs naturally in the place where it evolved (I took that definition from wildflower.org). There are numerous advantages to using native plants in the landscape (and you will notice almost all are exactly the opposite of what it takes to maintain a lawn):
- Drought tolerance
- Minimal need for fertilizer
- No need for pesticides
- With minimal fertilizer/pesticides – no run-off into the water supply
- Disease tolerant
- Attracts wildlife, beneficial bugs and encourages biodiversity
- Low cost to purchase natives
- Because natives are in their natural environment, their size and cooperation with neighboring plants is much more predictable and makes design/planning much easier.
I didn’t intend for today’s post to be about native plants but as I was reviewing my plant photos from this prior year, I noticed how many of the “successes” were native plants. Hence, where I ended up with this post. Here are some of my native plants and please, share some of the natives you’ve had success with in the comments section so I can pretend I knew about them all along:
Sneezeweed – Helenium autumnale
Blue cardinal flower – Lobelia siphilitica
Turtlehead – Chelone glabra
Purple coneflower – Echinacea purpurea
Garden Phlox – Phlox paniculata ‘David’
Boltonia asteroides ‘Pink Beauty’
When the native plant sales begin here in New Jersey around the middle of May, I begin my plan of attack and this upcoming year will be no different. I’ll just need to clear more lawn to fit in more of these low maintenance gems.
Go native or go home!
Today’s entry is a big time first. The first post written while hung over. The 20th high school reunion was a smashing success but now I am paying the consequences for all the shenanigans. But more on that later.
Friday night – we had a kick butt seasonal, fresh, summer dinner prepared by Mrs. ONG:
- Cedar plank salmon with a brown sugar rub
- Corn on da cob (NJ corn is off the charts)
- Watermelon margarita – refreshing and effective
- Blueberry Mascarpone Ice Cream – the best ice cream EVER (from the Bent Spoon in Princeton)
Saturday – the HS reunion went down and it was a trip. I’ll spare you all the gory details and give you some of the highlights:
- Many more of the former classmates read the blog than I expected. Actually got into some good gardening conversations. I even threw a “blossom end rot” out there.
- I really wish I named my blog something simpler. Feels a bit silly spelling out the URL.
- To some degree, the old high school cliques still exist. Very funny to observe.
- People really don’t change – that is both good and bad
Sunday – up at 7:30 to bring my chum to Newark Airport. We maybe said three words to each other as we attempted to recover. Meanwhile, my family of hot air balloon hunters were up at the crack of dawn to see the taking off of a ton of balloons during the annual Central NJ balloon fest.
After a lazy, super hot and humid afternoon, we got hit with a mother of a storm and couldn’t have been happier to get the much needed rain. I actually heard the tomatoes sigh with relief.
After the rain, I headed out to take some photos. Never a better time than after a rain in the early evening. And I will go back a bit on what I said in a prior post (shocker, huh?). There are a few macro shots in there that I couldn’t resist. Enjoy:
Lobelia Siphilitica – just starting to bloom
Clethra ‘Hummingbird’ bloom
Miscanthus ‘Super Stripe’ finally starting to take off
Crabapple right after the rain
Caryopteris ‘Sunshine Blue’ looking good.
Pruned back Nepeta (Catmint) already showing signs of re-bloom.
Think I like the Northern Sea Oats?
Good night and God bless.
Chasmanthium Latifolium , aka Northern Sea Oats, is fast becoming one of my favorite grasses and I’ve got close to a dozen planted throughout the yard. I’ve yet to see them through all four seasons but I am pumped to do just that this year. Some of my photos to date:
Why I dig it so much:
- She can handle the clay and even though it is a known heavy re-seeder, my non porous clay won’t let that shit happen.
- Unlike most grasses, she can handle a decent amount of shade which fits perfectly along the front of my house.
- Personally, I like the brighter green color of the foliage which works well with other greens as sometimes the heavy green on green can be a tough sell.
- The “oats” obviously give it a great Summer/Fall/Winter interest and look real cool with each passing breeze.
- The oats can be dried and used in flower arrangements – not that I’ll be doing that any day soon.
As we get further into the late Summer and Fall, here is what I expect the oats to mature to (you can link back to the original photos by clicking on the photos themselves – no copyright infringement here):
So all you Southeastern peeps who want to steal these off the dunes at the beach but know that it is illegal as it helps stabilize the dunes, pick some of these up and get the same benefits.