Helenium autumnale (Sneezeweed):
I’ve struggled with Sneezeweed for a long time now but may have finally found the right location. The ugly “legs” are disguised by other plants in front of them and they have each other for support (three are planted closely to each other).
Because of that, I skipped on cutting them back in June to control their height this year. The true test will be in the next week or so as all of the blooms emerge:
Boltonia ‘Pink Beauty’ is another perennial I typically cut back in June to hopefully prevent it from toppling over when blooming in late summer but completely forgot to do so this year. So far so good. Maybe that proactive pruning wasn’t necessary after all:
Not necessarily newly blooming, but some new visitors I couldn’t be more psyched to see on Asclepias curassavica (Silky Gold Milkweed):
Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ rounding into form:
Miscanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass):
And my very young Andropogon gerardii ‘Red October’ has thrown up some blooms in its first year (bless her heart):
This grass will rule over all of the other grasses within the next two years. I am so stoked in anticipation.
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!