Thursday, December 22, 2011

Getting a Jump on Seeds for 2012

As I was flipping through the Feb 2012 issue of Garden Gate magazine, I came across an article about winter sowing perennial seeds.  While I’ve seen this type of thing before, this time it sent me into action.  I’ve been moaning about why some seeds I’ve tried just won’t germinate well, if at all.  The method described in this article by Michelle Mero Riedel, can also be found at theMy Northern GardenBlog', and at the Winter Sown Seeds website. So today I grabbed the two containers I had on hand to give it a try.

1. Cut container, leaving a hinge
2. Make plenty of drain holes
3. Add seed starting mix

In short, it involves cutting 90% of the way across the top of a 1 gal plastic milk carton (or similar) cut, to create a hinged lid.  After making some drain holes in the bottom it is loaded with pre-moistened seed starting mix.  The seeds are sown at their recommended depth and the top is taped back in place.  

4.  Sink the containers in soil 
outside in a sunny location
Next the carton is put outside in a sunny exposed location and sunken into the soil to simulate the actual soil conditions.  In this way the seeds will experience actual winter conditions, but be protected from animals.  The cover creates a mini-greenhouse for protection after germination and the contained soil-less mix will be easy to break-up for transplanting after the plants grow up a bit.  It is important not to put the cap back on the jugs, otherwise the seeds will cook.

The first seeds that I am trying are one’s that did not germinate for me last time: Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Rosey Sedge (Carex rosea).  As I get more containers I will also try this with the difficult Fernleaf False Foxglove (Aureolaria pedicularia) as well as with seeds that gave a lower % germination last season: Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corolorata), and Crowned Beggarsticks (Bidens coronata).

One trick I did differently from the article was to use a drill fitted with a brad point bit to drill very neat holes in the plastic, rather than using an awl or screwdriver.    We’ll see next spring how this method compares my usual method of cold stratification in the refrigerator.  So far this ‘winter sowing’ method has been pretty easy, plus it doesn’t take up space in the frig and I won’t need to use the grow lights for two months this spring.  Also by winter sowing early, I won’t be digging into frozen soil to sink in the containers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Native Plants Update 2011

Now that most of the fall chores are done, I took some time to think about how some of my native plants were doing. My main focus is on those that I started from seed, but I have also put in some newer perennials and shrubs that put in as more mature specimens

New this Year from Seed

I successfully started the following species from seed this year.

• Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea, is a perennial, similar to the annual sweet everlastings (Pseudognaphallium obtusifolium) that I have had trouble transplanting into the garden in the past. These germinated well, but did not do well in ‘regular’ soil; however the ones that I put into a bed of decomposed bark chips seem to be taking hold. So it appears that these plants like a well drained, airy soil.

• Flowering Spurge, Euphorbia corollata, had limited germination but did grow well in the soilless mix. The transplants, like the Anaphalis above, showed a strong preference for lighter, well drained soils.

• Crowned Beggarticks, Bidens coronata, were difficult to germinate, unlike some of its prolific cousins. They did mature and bloom early in the season (June-August), but after setting seed this annual expired. This is in contrast to the Swamp Beggarticks that spend the summer growing to a good sized shrub before blooming in September.

It's nearly December and this plant has been trying to
bloom for awhile.  The arrow shows one of the trilobed
leaves for which this species is named.
• The woodland sunflower, Helianthus divaricatus, also had limited germination, but produced fairly strong plants. Like the Brown-eyed Susans, these have spent their first year in the ground getting established. These have a reputation for being aggressive, so they have been put under the Norway Maple.

• Brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba, was difficult to germinate in moist sand. I did get better results with cold stratification in damp soil for 2 months in the refrigerator. These seedlings are spending their first year getting established in the soil, i.e., no flowers this year. Although with the extended warm weather this year there are a couple which have been trying to bloom since October.

Old from Seed

The following plants have performed well from seed in the past and I just wanted more of them:

• I really love the Orange Hummingbird Mint, Agastache aurantica ‘Navaho Sunset’, as much for the smell of its foliage as I do for the flowers. This perennial grows well from seed under lights and blooms the first year. Older plants are maturing to 2-2.5’ tall. So far I have not seen strong evidence of self seeding, but I believe it should.
Two shades of Sulfur Cosmos with
some American Bellflower in the back.
• Sulfur Cosmos, Cosmos sulphureus, are southwestern natives that grow and reseed well in garden soil in the Northeast. I had grown these in the past, but they were pushed out by my experiments with the more massive Bidens aristosa. I do prefer these in the garden since they are of more manageable size and have beautiful bright flowers. While they are fine left on their own, they do better, bloom-wise, with dead heading.

• Rock Harlequin, Corydalis sempervirens, is a favorite of mine, though, like many other natives this is not for general garden soil. It likes lean, well drained conditions. Some that I had growing in a pot, bloomed and started a second generation in an adjoining tray. I’m over-wintering these seedlings for next year. Once these plant have set a lot of seed they tend to peter out and die.

• The Indian Blanket, Gallardia pulchella, seeds that I got in Austin three years ago are still viable (refrigerator storage). These seeds produce variable plants that that will stand tall in the open or grow sideways to find an opening in more competitive environments. So far I have seen no evidence of self seeding in my New England garden, though the plants themselves need a good hard frost to kill them for the year.

• Cucumberleaf Sunflower, Helianthus debilis, is a Southeastern native that has made its way up the east coast as far as Maine. I got the cultivar ‘Pan’ three years ago and it seems to be coming back true to seed.

• Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata, is a short-lived perennial that is easy to start under lights and grows well in a variety of soils. After three years I am beginning to see signs of it spreading, just as the older plants are beginning to die off.

• I also bought the Texas native Drummond Phlox, Phlox drummondii, seeds in Austin three years back. Seeds stored in the refrigerator are still viable, and they will reseed themselves within a season, but I have not seen any overwinter up here naturally.

Purchased Native ‘Annuals’

This year I tried using all southwestern natives in my deck flower boxes. Just to be bold I went with a ‘primary’ color scheme: Mealy-cup Sage, Saliva farinacea, provided the blue spikes; I used Apache Beggarticks, Bidens ferulifolia, for yellow ‘fillers’ and the Drummond Phlox for a deep red, that I hoped would act as a ‘trailer’. I purchased the Sage and Bidens at a garden center and the phlox were from seed. While these plants survived the hot and occasionally very dry conditions, I found that the effect was compromised by ‘spotty’ blooming. The Salvia was a constant blue, but the Bidens tended to bloom in cycles that rarely coincided with the Phlox.

The Phlox is blooming while the yellow Bidens is between bloom cycles.

Returning on their Own

I have a fairly long list of annuals, biennials and perennials that are spreading mostly by seed. In managing these I need to be willing to toss out the extras (that I can’t give away) rather than let one or two aggressive species dominate. So here’s a quick summary of this years results:

• Red Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis reseeds well and stays ‘close to home’.

• Swamp Marigold, Bidens aristosa, vigorous self-seeder, but not too hard to pull out.

American Bellflower, Campanulastrum americanum, also a vigorous self-seeder, but grows in dry shady locations.

Strawberry Blite, Chenopodium capitatum, thought this was lost but it reappeared; this plant is too ‘sloppy’ for the flower garden, but it has other uses.

• Philadelphia Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus, mostly coming up from self-scattered seed in the lawn.

• Northern Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, was grown from seed started about 5 years ago and up until last year had been staying put. This past season I was finding it scattered around the garden. I have been moving the extra to underneath the Norway Maple, where this enthusiastic growth is needed.

• Sand Love Grass, Eragrotis trichodies, grows on dryish, sites with full sun. It produces attractive seed heads in early fall and slightly taller than it’s relative Purple Love Grass. This is a relatively short lived grass, so a decent seed bank will be needed to ensure its continued presence.

Biennial Beeblossom, Gaura biennis has been reseeding itself since I first planted it in 2008. Even with cutting back in the early summer, this biennial will reach 6’ tall.

American Pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegiodes, has been reseeding itself consistently since 2008. It tends to concentrate in pavement cracks. When possible I have been moving this to more useful garden locations.

Scarlet, or Texas Sage
• Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, tends to stay close to the original planting location. My plants typically survive from 1-3 years.

• Scarlet Sage, Salvia coccinea, has been a surprise. It has reseeded itself in a variety of locations and matured on its own to give healthy, blooming specimens from July through September. Based on my experience with other red Salvias, I did not expect this one to come back so strongly.

• Showy Goldenrod, Solidago speciosa, spreads by both seed and underground runners. I have had to remove excess plants from the garden and am running out of places to put them.

• Swamp Verbena, Verbena hastata, is also an aggressive self-seeder. It grows in pavement cracks as well as in the garden.

New Perennials & Shrubs

In addition to the plants originally grown from seed, I put in the following perennials and shrubs. In the sun:

• Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, is a tap-rooted perennial. It is found in coastal areas, so I am hoping that it will tolerate a roadside planting location.

• Sheep Laurel, Kalmia angustifolia, is a spreading shrub, growing to about 3’. I’m putting in place of some Meadowsweet that had grown too large.

Fall color of 'Blue Muffin' Viburnum
(a crimson colored leaf from a 'Winterthur'
Viburnum is to the back left).

In the shadier areas I added Canada Anemone, Anemone canadensis, Celandine Poppy, Stylophorum dipyllum, and Blue Stemmed Goldenrod, Solidago caesia. The Poppy and Goldenrod have performed well in the shade. The Anemone seemed to disappear after a month or so, but I could still find a leaf or two late in the season.

Finally, I added an Arrowwood Viburnum, Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’, to the shrub border. Mainly I wanted to see how this oft used cultivar performs. So far my specimen stayed green longer than my 'Winterthur' Viburnum and, when the leaves did change, the coloration was fine, but not spectacular; a good foil for showier plants.

So, now I can start thinking about next year.  More on that later....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fall at Mount Auburn

As the fall foliage season is coming to a close in New England I thought I would share just two of many photos I've taken at the Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, MA. 

This photo is one of my favorites every fall.  The juxtaposition of the Crabapple, Japanese Maple and the Sycamore shows both the different forms and colors of these trees.  Although the weather was rainy, the colors still show through.
Now that the leaves on the trees are gone many of the plantings featuring ornamental grasses have become quite spectacular.  Especially with the lower angle of the sun, the grasses really light up in the morning and afternoon light.

Here at the planting atop Willow Pond Knoll, the red twig dogwood is really showing it's color.  About 2 weeks ago the twigs were only slightly red-tinged, so the cooler weather has really brought these along, color wise.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Free Fertilizer!

Before, since I don't have as many trees in front,
most to these leaves came from the street
Every year at this time I see so many people raking up and throwing out an excellent, free material for building their soil and feeding their plants and lawn. By mowing in the leaves you return nutrients to the soil, build organic matter, cut down on disposal or transportation costs and, best of all, you don’t need to bend over to pick up the leaves.

After.  10 minutes later, the leaves are 'gone'.

Last season I blogged about this same topic, and you can look back there to read about more good reasons to mow in your leaves. I can also refer you to a recent post from MassHort on fall preparations for more about mowing leaves. They also recommend lowering the mower blades for the last mowings of the season. I did that this year and I got some pretty clean results.  There are some special cases that argue against mowing the leaves back into the soil, but there are many more cases where the benefits far outweigh any downside. So for the last mowing/raking of the year, lower the blades a little and just run over those leaves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chokeberries, they gotta find a new name

NOT Burning Bush!  This a Red Chokeberry,
 Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima' growing at the edge of a parking lot.

Flowers of Red Chokeberry in late May-early June
The Chokeberries are medium-sized shrubs native to eastern North America and have landscape attributes that make them good replacements for the invasive ‘Burning Bush’, Euonymus alatus. Like the Euonymus, these shrubs will grow under a wide variety of conditions and they have good fall color. In fact, this year seems to be an exceptional year for chokeberry foliage! In general, Red Chokeberry has more intense orange to red fall foliage, while Black Chokeberry is more a crimson red. Unlike the Euonymus, the Chokeberries do have showy pinkish-to-white 5-petaled flowers, they have edible berries in the fall and, as natives, they are not invasive.

The two most commonly available species of Chokeberry are: the Red, Aronia arbutifolia, and the Black, Aronia melanocarpa. There is a third species, Aronia prunifolia, the Purplefruit Chokeberry, which may be a natural hybrid of the red and black chokeberries.

Pair of Red Chokeberries in a mixed native planting,
early June.
Red Chokeberry is an upright suckering shrub that will grow 6-12’ tall. Besides the bright red-orange fall foliage, it produces bright red berries that will persist into December. These fruits are edible, but bitter, which is probably why they do not get eaten right away by birds. While it will grow under a wide range of soil conditions from boggy conditions to dry soils, it prefers the moister conditions. Its native range is from the southeastern US to southern New England. The most commonly available form of Red Chokeberry is the cultivar ‘Brilliantissima’, noted for profuse quantities of glossy, red berries.

The Black Chokeberry is a smaller suckering shrub, growing to 3-6’ tall and wide. In addition to its crimson fall foliage it produces quantities of black berries that are eaten up by wildlife by November. Unlike the Red Chokeberry, the black berries, while tart, are more palatable and are used to make jellies and pemmican. These berries are notable for containing high levels of antioxidants and minerals. I went out to sample a berry, but they were already dried up; the taste was reminiscent of a dried fig. Next season I will take a taste while they still have some juice in them. The native range for Black Chokeberry is in the cooler climates of North America, mainly in the Northeast, from Michigan to Maine. There are several cultivars of Black Chokeberry available. The one I have is called Iroquois Beauty™ (‘Morton’). It is listed as a dwarf, growing to about 4’ tall and wide. I have not done any significant pruning in the 5 years I've had this plant.

Black Chokeberry, mid-Fall color.

Same plant at peak color in early November

These shrubs are tolerant of salt, drought, flooding and compacted soils. Other than in full shade, one of these Aronia species will grow nearly anywhere. In my work I look to use them in borders, mixed hedgerows and along woodland edges. Their foliage is less dense than that of the invasive Euonymus, so are better players in a mixed composition.  Now if they could just find a better name...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Under the Norway Maple - Part 2

As the growing season is slowly coming to a close I thought I would revisit the status of the native species I have be evaluating under my Norway Maple.  There have been some improvements and some failures and one plant that I thought I lost has returned in a different spot.  In general many of the plants continuing to grow, only slower and smaller due to competition from the mature Maple.

Maturing berries of Winterthur Viburnum start off
bright green, then turn pink, then finally dark blue.
First the good news.  After 4 years of growing with no berries, I finally got a good crop from my Winterthur Viburnum (Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur').  While it had been slogging along at the edge of the tree canopy, it produced no fruit until I brought in a native form last fall.  This year, with the cross pollination, mature berries were produced for the first time here.

Another plant the seems to be catching on is the Northern Sea Oats (Chasmantheum latifolium) that I moved in last year.  These overwintered and grew fairly well in the shade along the back fence.  I would like this grass to grow up and obscure the chain-link fence.  A new addition, that seems to be working out is the Bluestemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia).  The native habitat for this plant is in open woods, so at least this plant is used to the shade.

The Northern Sea Oats are doing well along the fence. 
The new Bluestemmed Goldenrod is in full bloom (late September)
and the Witchhazel is just getting started 

The Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) that I thought had faded away returned in a new spot and looked healthier this year than when it was first planted 4 years ago. 

I transplanted a lot of 2nd year American Bellflowers (Campanulastrum americanum, a biennial) along the back edge of the garden.  These did well though early and mid-summer until they died out after completing their bloom cycle.  The test will be whether new plants return from the seed. 

The biennial Allegheny Vine (Adlumia fungosa) did not come back with any new seedlings this year (unless they were lost in the spreading Virginia Creeper).  A new addition that I thought would work but did not do well was Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis); I will keep a eye out for this next spring.

Other plants that are expanding are:
The Rosinweed is standing tall while the Smooth Aster
and Showy Goldenrod have flopped forward toward the sun.
American Pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides, an annual returning from seed), Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve), Heartleaf Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium), Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, now the dominant grond cover), and Wafer Ash (Ptelea trifoliata).

I should give a shout out to the Rosinweed.  While it does not have the prettiest flowers, it was in bloom all summer.  Then, I cut the spent blooms back to some new flower buds and got the second flush shown in the photo.  (Cutting back when no buds are present just leaves you with a leafy stem; I tried that last year.)

Plants holding their own:
Christmas Fern, Bellwort and Wild Bleeding Heart
have looked good all season.
 Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Rosey sedge (Carex rosea), Alumroot (Heuchera villosa),  Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla), Largeflower bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora), Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), Wild Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia), Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana )

Fading or gone:
Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragariodes) has disappeared and the Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) was down to only two sprigs in the spring before it disappeared.  Hairy Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum pubescens) has been in this area for 4 years but it now seems to be in decline.  I put in a new one this fall and am hoping for its return.

Plants that should work, planned for next season:
Last year I planned to put in Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) and Maple-leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) but didn't.  I'll try to get those for next spring.  I will will also give the Canada Anemone another shot.  I also have some Large-leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla) that I should move over, seeing as it usually does well in dry shade.
In addition to using plants that are strong competitors that can get their share of moisture there are some maintenance practices that will help the understory plants survive under the Norway Maple (or other mature tree for that matter).  Limbing up and thinning the canopy to let in more sunlight helps a lot. Also, new plants should be irrigated deeply the first year to get them established, as well as under droughty conditions (mid-summer). I have a rain barrel with a special low pressure soaker hose to help with this.  Returning the leaf mulch to the understory area helps to build the soil.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Biennial Beeblossom

Biennial Beeblossom in mid-September
 As the name implies Biennial Beeblossom, Gaura biennis, is a true biennial, it establishes a basal rosette the first season and the sends up the flower stalk the second. This stalk can reach 6 feet or more, with clusters of small white flowers borne on the ends of wand-like stems. Flowers in the cluster open 2 or 3 at a time and turn pink with age. As with other members of the Onagraceae, or Evening Primrose family, these flowers open in the evening and close up the following day. The blooming period is from July into October. After the first flush, plants can be cut back severely; they will produce a second flush of blooms. I have also cut the plant back by up to ½ in mid-June to give a plant only slightly shorter with many more flowering stems. I have transplanted second-year plants without loss of vigor. I even had a root-bound plant in a 4” pot grow to 3 feet tall and bloom successfully.

Basel rosette of Gaura biennis form in the first season

Fresh flowers open at 9:30 PM

A bumblebee making a landing on a Beeblossom flower.

The flowers of G. biennis are pollinated primarily by long-tongued bees, especially bumblebees. When bees visit the flowers they grab on to the long stamen and crawl to the corolla to get the nectar. In the process their abdomen rubs against the anthers and stigma of the flower thus transferring pollen. Several moths also visit this plant. Two interesting pink colored species are the Primrose Moth, Schinia florida, found in the eastern US and the Clouded Crimson, Shinia gaurea, found in the western half of the US. The first 2 years I grew this plant I did not see too much insect activity, but this year there were a lot of bumblebees visiting the plant at sunrise, while the flowers are still relatively fresh (but alas, no pink moths that I have seen).

The original native range for Gaura biennis in the United States is from the Southeast to Midwest and Pennsylvania. Populations have been found further east and west the northern states including Massachusetts. The native habitat includes open and disturbed places, open woods and stream banks. It can tolerate a range of soil moisture from moist to dry and exposures from full to partial sun. Best growth occurs when there is good sun, and not too much water or fertilization provided (it can flop over when it grows too tall).

Even after cutting back in June,
this plant is approaching 7 feet.

This plant can be rather lanky. Its tall habit with long stalked flowers may make it a good candidate for creating a screen or a back-of-the-border plant. I can see combining this plant with the American Bellflower, Campanulastrum americanum, which blooms from the end of June to the beginning of August. As the bellflower dies out the Beeblossom would take over blooming for another 6 weeks or so.

Seeds are available from several sources, mostly based in the mid-west, including Prairie Moon Nursery and Ever Wilde Farms. For seed started indoors, a 60 day period of moist stratification is recommended.  In my hands this gave reasonable, though not exceptional results. My first generation of plants have reseeded themselves with moderate vigor so that I have had several plants growing consistently since 2008.

Lindheimer's Beeblossom,
Gaura lindheimeri.
The commercially more popular form of Gaura is Lindheimer’s Beeblossum, Gaura lindheimeri, which is a short-lived perennial. I also have this plant in my garden, but it does not seem to be as popular with the pollinators as the Biennial Beeblossom. The popularity of of this plant is that, as a perennial, it has a more consistent presence in the garden, a long period of bloom and at 2-3 feet it is of a more manageable size.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September Showers bring ... Mushrooms

This year, in addition to all the native asters and goldenrods, our annual late summer trip to Downeast Maine featured a huge variety of mushrooms.  Ususally on our walks through the woods we see a lot of different mushrooms, but this year was exceptional in both quantity and variety.  All of the rain, about twice the average for August, has set the table for mushrooms to grow. 

These were the first mushrooms I saw, but there were many more to come...
I'm not a mushroom expert, in fact I don't think I know any of the names, but I know I do like the way they look.  The following are sampling of the hundred or so photos I took during a one hour walk.  If anyone can tell me the names of these fungi it would be much appreciated. 

This little cup is about an inch across.

This form was fairly common.

These white mushrooms were less common along our walk.

While I am often looking for a pristine specimen,
an aged cap can offer a more interesting image.
These inch-tall fungi are among my favorite, they look like tiny space invaders.
This older specimen shows a lot of character,
especially on the stalk.

This was my foavorite shot of the day.  I had not seen
this type of mushroom growing in a standing tree before.

We almost missed seeing these dark mushrooms.

These were the only puffballs we saw this day.

More inch-tall mushrooms.  I had to set the camera
on the ground to get this angle.
Another 'ground' shot.

These bracket mushrooms caught my eye with their irridescent edges.

Thank heavens for my digital camera and for auto-focus!  I'm sure I would have run out of film in the first hour with my old SLR.  I also want to thank my two mushroom spotters who found most of these for me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

North Point Park, Cambridge, MA

I have heard, on and off, about the construction of North Point Park as a 'set aside' from Boston's Big Dig.  It's in an area I always shied away from because of the the traffic.  But on a quiet day last Sunday and a reminder from some landscaping associates I finally made the short trip into East Cambridge.

The 8.5 acre park was opened in Dec. 2007 and is on the north bank of the Charles River just east of Boston's Science Museum.  For backgound on the history and construction I will refer you to a Wiki article and item from the Boston Globe.  The design was done by Carr Lynch & Sandell of Cambridge and Oehme van Sweden of Washington, DC.  Van Sweden is noted for their use for grasses, and it shows well in this park. 

View looking northeast into Cambridge.
 The park is designed for multiple uses and, on my visit, it seems to do them well.  The landscape is varied.  There are large open areas for lounging or more active pursuits.  There are playground areas that are clean and modern.  There are areas with dense plantings that offer some privacy and there are a couple of islands, linked by bridges.  All of these work together to form an interesting and diverse experience.  Another aspect that I found to be very nicely done is to have separate path systems for various modes of transport: Walking paths, Bike paths and Channels for kayaking. 

Playground with fountain spary.

A more secluded gathering area. 
I'm curious how this will be used.

A section of bike path around a stand of Prairie Coneflower.

View to the east.  Plantings had to be selected to deter use by geese.

One of the Kayaking channels.

Looking at the plant palette, I was expecting to see all native plants, but what is here is a pragmatic mix of natives and non-natives with the focus on design and survivability, rather than strict use of native species. Personally, would have like to have seen more natives, but visually, this design 'works'.

Mix of grasses including native Panicum and non-native Pennisetum.

View south toward Boston through a hedge
of non-native Corneilian Cherries (Cornus mas).

Liriope and a dwarf Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
form an effective groundcover.

My favorite combination: Joe-Pye Weed and Hibiscus hybrid ('Lord Baltimore'?)
 On this day the most striking plant compostition was the Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium dubium) and the hybrid Hibiscus.  One of the reasons I like this is that they are both wetlands plants native to the eastern U.S. (or at least derived from eastern natives).

My biggest concern for this park is how it will be maintained.  Will the beds be weeded out of invasives and plants blown in from other parts of the park, or will a form of succession be allowed.  I noticed a few patches of purple loosestrife and bittersweet growing among the plantings.  I also found a patch of Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense), a native of the southeastern U.S. that has spread across the continent.  This is a really well defended plant with thorns on its stems and its leaves.  Currently the park is not getting a lot of visitors.  I hope people come and take notice of it and insist that it get the maintenance attention that it needs in the coming years.