Monday, April 11, 2016

New Plants for 2016

As we are approaching another planting season I've come up with a list a new native plants to add to our landscape.  Most of these plants are to build on the existing communities.  My main goals are to  provide food for wildlife, displace invasive species, stabilize soils and add visual appeal.  To help me determine what is native here near the Potomac River, I am using a guidebook from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for most of my plant selection.

One area, shaded by white pines and red cedar, is densely populated with Vinca minor.  I trying to get rid of that and replace it with a variety of shade loving native species.  I am having some good success with green-and-gold, Chrysogonum virginianum.  It is filling in nicely with a dense mat of evergreen foliage.  Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, is spreading slowly, so I will be adding more of those to give them a boost.  I brought some hairy alumroot with reddish leaves, Heuchera villosa var. atropurpurea, from my Boston garden and it has survived well.  When I saw it offered by Prairie Nursery I ordered a bunch more.

Here's a mixture of seed grown Heuchera villosa, both green and red-leaf forms.

This woodland phlox grows all around our property,
mostly in the shady woodlands.

I will try adding some woodland phlox, Phlox divaricata, to the mix this year.  It's growing wild nearby, so it will be a truly natural extension into this space.  I thought that this needed moist conditions to do well, but I read somewhere that it could also grow in drier shade conditions.  We will see if that's true.

One species that is not native to this region that I am trying out this year is rose vervain, Glandularia canadensis. It is a native groundcover from the Mid-West and South.  It is a perennial in warmer areas, but otherwise it's a reseeding annual.  I was inspired by the cultivar 'Homestead Purple' that is heavy blooming and hardier than the species in cooler climates.  Rather than buying the individual plants of the named cultivar, I decided to start some from seed.  These plants won't necessarily be the same, but I'll get a feel whether I like it enough to invest in the cultivar.  Deer and rabbits like these too, so we'll see if any survive.  If successful, these would be a nice ground cover to use around shrubs in sunny locations.

I would like to establish some Liatris in our gardens.  The mid-summer blooms are very popular with a variety of pollinators.  Unfortunately, the spike gayfeather, L. spicata, that I've planted has also been popular with our rabbits and/or groundhog.  This year I will try adding scaly blazing star, Liatris squarrosa,  This species is native to the nearby Piedmont region of Virginia.  Maybe its rougher texture will be less palatable with the local herbivores.

Another new addition to the garden will be vasevine, Clematis viorna.  The purple bell-shaped flowers appear in mid-summer.  I will plant these along a fence in open shade/part sun and mesic soil. I planted virgin's bower, C. virginiana, this same area area several years ago and it has taken hold quite well.  If all goes as planned, as the vasevine flowers finish blooming the virgin's bower will kick in.

I am trying out Bushy St. Johnswort, Hypericum densiflorum, for a second time.  I was unsuccessful past, but that was in a fairly shady location.  This time I'll give it more sun and a more consistent supply of moisture.  If it finds this a suitable spot, it is supposed to spread thickly.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am removing invasive plants from a hillside hedgerow and replacing them with natives that spread out forming clonal colonies.  These clonal shrubs will help hold the hillside against erosion.  The two species I'm adding this spring are American hazelnut, Corylus americana, and gray dogwood, Cornus racemosa.

In addition to the soil holding properties, American hazelnut also produces edible nuts
that benefit wildlife, or humans (if we can get them).  In this photo
you can see male catkins emerging above the dried leaves.

Gray dogwood  has small white flowers on terminal racemes
in late spring.  After foliage drops in the fall the shrub is distinguished
by the few remaining white berries on  bright red stems.

At the end of March the lowbush blueberry flowers were just beginning to open.
 No flowers yet on these cultivated strawberries.
Two years ago we planted several native lowbush blueberries, Vaccinium angustifolium, and some cultivated strawberries that I got from a Master Gardener sale along the walk to our front door.  These have performed quite well and are beginning to spread.  Since I am all about native plants, I will be adding some of the native Virginia strawberries, Fragaria virginiana.  This species is one of the two originally hybridized to create the modern cultivated strawberries we all enjoy.  Though small, the Virginia strawberries are packed with flavor.

Got these as bare root plants and potted them up until
the meadow gets its annual mowing.
I never thought I would need to but I am adding some eastern red ceder to the meadow along its wooded edge.  I would like to have a few evergreens growing in that area.  There were some indigenous seedlings, but they disappeared.  I fear the deer have chewed them to the ground.  I'll put some cages around these for a couple of years.

Now I just need to get to work!