Read about the importance and beauty of native plants in my latest Garden Guru column for Seasons Style & Design Magazine.
Click here: https://seasonsmagazinenc.com/the-garden-guru-6/
Why include native plants in the home garden?
Native plants are an important part of a healthy ecosystem, but can they also be beautiful additions to our landscapes? “Absolutely,” says Steve Windham, landscape designer and owner of Root & Branch Gardens in Greensboro. “A lot of people are already gardening with natives, they just might not know it.” Many popular landscape plants are North Carolina natives, including purple coneflower, woodland phlox and cardinal flower. They thrive in Southern gardens because they have adapted to our growing conditions over thousands of years.
Noticing dwindling pollinator numbers, gardeners are enthusiastically embracing native plants. Humans need pollinators. Our food supply depends on their work to pollinate the agricultural crops we eat. Habitat loss, climate change and insecticides contribute to their decline. An earlier trend toward exotic ornamentals was also detrimental to pollinators. According to a study in the journal Nature, yards landscaped predominantly with exotic ornamentals had reduced butterfly and moth populations and fewer other insects. Now, more than ever, pollinators need our help.
Having a good proportion of native plants in the garden helps support local biodiversity. About a third of my plants are exotics like hellebores and cyclamen — two of my favorite nonnatives. In my view, exotics that aren’t invasive are fine as long as they don’t displace native species or cause harm to wildlife.
Here’s a sneak peek of a few of my favorite native plants. See the article for the complete list.
Asclepias: Both A. tuberosa and A. incarnata are essential to the pollinator garden and required host plants for caterpillars of the monarch and other butterfly species. A. tuberosa (butterfly weed) has a profusion of brilliant orange flowers. A. incarnata (swamp milkweed) bears copious clusters of pink-to-rose blossoms.
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower): Brilliant red flowers appear summer through fall and attract hummingbirds. Occurring naturally along streams and wetlands, Lobelia thrives in a moist spot in the garden. L. siphilitica (great blue lobelia) has light to bright blue tubular blooms.
Helianthus angustifolius (swamp sunflower): Stately perennial with a multitude of yellow daisy-like flowers that bloom in late summer and into fall. Butterflies swarm the blossoms and songbirds fight over the seeds later in the season.
Chrysogonum virginianum (green and gold): The bright yellow flowers on this nonaggressive but nicely spreading ground cover light up the woodland garden as nearly evergreen leaves provide a backdrop for woodland plants.
And a few random native plant photos:
Ps: Hope everyone is doing well. I am still trying to figure out WordPress and block editing. Anything new takes me a while to figure out, but I’ll get there. What are some of your favorite native plants in your garden or region? Any native plants you’ve added to your garden and wish you hadn’t? Because they can be aggressive spreaders, too!
Keep on gardening. I’m convinced it’s helping to keep me (mostly) sane in these bewildering days. Oh, and be sure to VOTE!