Tag Archives: phlox

The advantages of native plants

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!
ONG 

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Photographic journey

It is hard for me to believe how little I had photographed my garden and it’s surroundings prior to this year. I spent all my time on digging out new beds and moving plants around with reckless abandon, never stopping to enjoy it all – very task driven.

Well, I now find myself taking out the camera and wandering aimlessly, not really sure what I want to photograph, yet by the end of the sojourn (like that term, huh?), I’ve got a ton of photos to look at and it allows me to sit back and actually enjoy what the garden and the creatures who live in it have to offer.

Here is the latest collection of said shots, and while I am aware of the fact that it may be overkill, I am still too geeked up to stop.

Enjoy.       

The butterflies are in full effect and I’ve even started to attempt to identify them. Good times. 

Monarch

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

I admit to being relatively clueless when it comes to bird identification but I will work my way there soon because I have seen so many different species this year and homey needs to know what they are. Just a few shots I took on a whim.   

Letting nature take it’s course – I have been monitoring the ladybugs to make sure they are properly disposing of the aphids and so far they have been graded out as a C+. They need to get their asses in gear before I step in and take care of business. 

I have actually allowed some “weeds” to mature just to see what they really are, and in some cases, I am digging the results. I don’t know exactly what these purple flowers are, but they have remained within bounds so they can stay.  

My first year with a Yucca (loving it) and the first sign of a new rosette forming next to the plant. Sweet.  

And finally, some blooms to round it all out.

Sedum ‘Matrona’

Phlox ‘David’

Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’

Zinnia mix

Now the good news

I just got back from riding over a rainbow with a unicorn and then we shared a sundae and listened to Wilson Phillips. So needless to say, I am oozing positivity and have left my prior post in the rear view mirror. Now that was cathartic and I am all the better for it.

Love one another and enjoy:    

I have 3 Pieris sitting in containers from last Fall and I am still debating what to do with them. One of the best features of this shrub is the brilliant red new growth as you can see here. I have only one spot where these will work and don’t know if they are “worthy” enough. TBD.
   

The Ajuga ‘ Chocolate Chip’ are now blooming which is a sweet burst of blue this time of year. To be honest though, I prefer how these look after they bloom when the foliage takes on a nice maroon color. It will fill in empty spots real quickly but doesn’t take over. As I’ve mentioned before, they all divide real well and you can triple your number of plants in no time.
   

The Potentilla ‘Verna Nana’ are blooming …. ummm …. ehhhhh … they help suppress weeds … they’re OK I guess.
 

Now this plant is FANTASTICAL … blooms early in the Spring … nice green clean foliage that looks great spilling over stones. Another plant that has divided well for me.   

The Iberis ‘Snowflake’ is blooming and I am still lukewarm on this one. I moved these to a new, better draining location this year so I will give them one more year.

About to bloom Malus (Crabapple) and the blooms are off the charts. Bring it.

More tulip blooms about to pop. Sweet.

These Leucojum (Snowbells or Snowdrops … don’t remember) have been a revelation this Spring. I would love to increase the number of these next year as I’m sure they look even better in large masses.  

My first and only emerging Hosta ‘Great Expectations’. I definitely want some more this year. 

The Phlox ‘David’ seedlings are everywhere this year and I’m not sure why but I am anxious to see how they develop.

I transplanted this Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ this morning from it’s holding cell in my raised bed to it’s new location in the bed surrounding my driveway. What struck me as funny in this photo is the Spirea sitting in the grass that I took out in order to move the Itea in. I left it there for an hour – roots exposed and all. It got me thinking about how I don’t follow the transplant rules very well and also transplant on a whim. It is a typical “male” stereotype of just “doing” without “thinking”. That will be a topic of it’s own in a future post. 

And I’ll end with a question. How should I handle these small off-shoots growing on the trunk of the tree. Should they be snipped? I’ve read that this should be done immediately whenever they pop up.

I’m thinking about posting a video soon but not yet sure what it will be about. I am considering pulling in a friend who was a prior actor (not kidding … actually once had his SAG card). Be afraid … be very afraid … but also prepare to have your mind blown.

Chat with you soon my friends.