Ya, ya ya…I know my garden again. I said I would show seasonal progress and change. Garden Walk season is starting in a few weeks and the Lewiston GardenFest is this Saturday and Sunday. I will be busy there for a few days.
I don’t know the interest in my garden of many of my readers, but I know some do come for the flowers.
Others, the birds, and even more the photography in nature. My job is designing so at home I am a bit lackadaisical on my own turf. I just have less interest when I am home, so it does not always look weed free, edged perfectly, or even the grass mowed neatly. In fact, the photos are never taken with care either.
I have lots of clover in the lawn now for the bees. I care more for the bees than what the neighbors might think about longer, weedy grass. I think more should take this direction too, but hey, as a designer, it is my job to do as asked without pushing a personal philosophy. On my blog I can, so you will often hear how I feel about nature and how I don’t really look at gardens as nature in the pure sense of the word.
I wonder if that GardenFest sign should be planted in the clover (not native) and weed infested lawn?
Yes, lots of insects in the long grass. I found this guy early evening.
I thought amsonia (native cultivar) was missing this year and went out to get another one. A bit more than a week later there it was, so now I have it in four places. It was very late to pop out of the ground, but when it did, it almost went right into flower.
What are the partners of the scabiosa?
Foxglove opened this week. It pops out of the Forget-Me-Nots, another self-seeder.
I sodded the garden when I installed one of my new designs (there have been 4) and that is the last time the neighbors saw verdant green Kentucky Blue Grass in my garden.
My last post on the garden was June 10th., so what is it like only a week later? Plants just coming into flower, now are flowering profusely. I called it a garden that changes and it does. A few weeks from now, it will change quite a bit.
By the hundreds…And like I mention on the evening primrose, native Oenothera fruticosa is also very rampant in a garden.
Still plenty of blues. White and blue are pretty consistent colors here in my garden. Oh and the bell flower? Yes, very aggressive.
All gardens change through the seasons, but not all have constant color. Some like those times of rest, others want the riot of color until the snow drops. I enjoy gardens that are “quiet” as well with all the texture and shades of green. You can guess that from all my trips into nature where color is provided mostly from those with wings – birds and insects. But a nice Japanese garden can be so relaxing.
What they don’t tell you about native plants.
It is not just all the good stuff. Goldenrod, oenothera (evening primrose shown by the sidewalk in the full frontal view) and penstemon (above) are very aggressive in the garden. In fact too aggressive for a small city garden. Most native plants are, and you will see more as the season progresses. These plants are cultivars and were bred to be better controlled, but it is all relative to what one calls controlled.
A problem with this vigor, especially the goldenrod and oenothera, is that it even pushes out other plants that are also considered zealous, like the native asters, monkshood, and hyssop. I also have milkweed, another plant that needs to be thinned for space as does Monarda.
And don’t get me started on Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’. The whole side garden became that plant. Milkweed was seeded there, so I am curious which one will be victorious in taking over the space. I removed carex for this reason from a very well contained space and tradescantia is on the block next to go. That plant is now in the back garden where it never was planted. Some plants are tenacious. I think it climbed out of the compost bin and slithered itself into the back garden. I have to keep an eye on my compost bins.
I wonder how many gardeners have enough years of experience with native plants before they suggest them for others to use. Many don’t even know what is native to their state or county. In NYS you can check this source.
Plants generally need more than three years in one spot to see of what they are capable. I myself have been designing for 30 years next year, so I am familiar with these aggressive plants and use them with restraint in smaller gardens – well aware once they get fully established, removing them becomes a chore. In large estate gardens with acres of meadows and ponds, they are plants used without a second thought.
Many plants liking the conditions and habitat have the potential to become aggressive, native or non-native. Plants you would think not, do if they are happy and uncontested in their location. Bearded Iris and Asiatic lilies overwhelm their bed every three years. Neither are native though. They can act just like all the native plants I mentioned. It all depends on soil and where in the country (weather and sun) they are located.
Too many say that if you plant native it will reduce maintenance, I think that is an unjustifiable claim for the most part. Most gardens heavy with native plants predominately have a weedy look, like they do in nature. People just get accustomed to this aesthetic and only think it is maintenance free as a result. I myself will let some weeds go to flower because they are masked by all the native cultivars.
Really look at those smaller gardens with a discerning eye for design and you will see what I mean. Many look weedy and rarely have color consistent through the growing season. Plants featured are usually surrounded with much green foliage waiting to flower at a later time, that or brown sticks of plants past prime.
Of course it is possible using native plants to extend the color through the seasons. You can see that in my garden, but look closer and see that it is not exclusively native plants. Adding annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees not native, yet attracting many pollinators and birds, will keep the garden in flower all season long. Follow along or look back at garden posts in previous years to see the garden bloom and bloom.
Next, back to nature with more grassland birds. Big birds in a marsh (a photography post), and birds that sing in beautiful meadows (all about nature post). Maybe I will continue my garden update, because as a designer, I like to impress upon readers the WAY plants perform, not just after a year or two, but over time.