Sunday, January 24, 2010

Native Plants or Naturalized?

Have you counted the Native Plants in your garden? Not an advocate of an all-native garden, I could not do without roses, for example. Nor do I restrict my azaleas to those natives that bloom after the colorful azaleas of the Orient that are part of the essence of place that signifies South Georgia along with winter's Camellias, also from the Orient.


False indigo in foreground and native azalea at upper right, Jones Lab last April.

Some native plants I never introduce into the garden. Festoons of Carolina jessamine adorn the trees along woods' edge in spring, but there isn't a spot for it in my garden. So far I have not found a suitable spot for Baccharis other than at woods' edge or field edges. Seeds of Native Carolina Cherry Laurel is frequently brought in by birds. It's a lovely bright green evergreen, growing to great heights. It makes a beautiful screen between our field and the neighbors just to the north.

Echinacea was a recent post: Echinacea: One Seed Chicago so I won't post echinacea again.

Stokesia at left, being visited by a Tiger Swallowtail. At right in the pic is blue eyed grass, our native Sisyrinchium. You can barely notice the tiny blue blooms at upper right. I found the blue eyed grass at the edge of a pasture. Not a real grass, it has segments like an iris and loves to be divided. Stokesia has been in this garden as long as I can remember. It will die out if not divided every few years.





azaleas,calycanthusCalycanthus, our native sweetshrub has maroon flowers and bright green foliage. It is a suckering plant, so propagation is easy.


















Sumac and Sassafras are two small native trees that add the brightest spots of fall color along with native Dogwoods. Sassafras blooms during the winter, little yellow blooms resembling Witch hazel.
Blueberry is a native, popular for fruit in these parts.

Oakleaf hydrangea,Strobilanthes,lilies,sago
Oakleaf hydrangea

Please Sing Along:

The Pawpaw Patch
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Where, oh where, is dear little Nellie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.

Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Picking up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket,
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.
(Traditional)

Asimina, our native paw-paw which grows in high mixed shade.
Paw-paw is the host plant for Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies.

Beautyberry
Callicarpa americana is known as beautyberry (spelled all together, not two words) or French mulberry, or American beautyberry. When speaking of beautyberry as a garden specimen, much is made of the purple fruits which appear in fall. The summer beauty is pale pink flowers that precede the berries and are attractive to butterflies.

Beautyberry often volunteers within its range, sometimes with such vigor as to be regarded as a weed species, but the rogue plants can be easily removed. Fall interest is the yellow-green foliage combined with the purple fruits. Other cultivars are C. bodinieri, C. dictoma, and C. japonica, about which I know nothing.

Invasives that I've been offered from the gardens of others include Popcorn Tree. Growing on the property are Chinaberry, Privet and Lonicera japonica, planted by birds. Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a great guide to native plants to use instead of less desirable invasives :

Native Alternantives to Invasive Plants

One plant that BBG mentions as an invasive, Vitex, has never reseeded in my garden and I have four large plants that were rooted cuttings. The callicarpa that they advocate as a substitute does seed about everywhere here. You may find others such as Japanese Spiraea listed as invasive that are well behaved in some gardens, not others.

What natives are you adding as you edit your gardens?
What non-native plants do you retain as indicators of a sense of place?

19 comments:

  1. I love to garden with native plants because they often take less care than non-natives. Also, they provide the appropriate food for native wildlife. But I love all plants and don't like to be totally restricted. It is the invasive plant that bothers me the most, because it chokes out the good guys. We have a constant battle with multifora rose, barberry, and Russian olive.

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  2. I am like you Nell Jean... in not ever intending to give up any of my non-natives. I have a great fondness for multi cultures in plants and people. I shall enjoy them along with the native plants and shrubs. It is certainly true that we must be aware of introducing invasive plants that will kill our natives. I wish I could have convinced the folks before me who brought in Bishops Weed! I might like to add a woodland garden with only natives but the deer would most likely enjoy them for snacks so I will really have to research. I love your Calycanthus! Gorgeous!! Lovely post. ;>) Carol

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  3. I am adding wax myrtle instead of ligustrum as an evergreen shrub line. I have bookmarked the Brooklyn Botanical Garden link. Keeping mindful of invasives to avoid.

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  4. I checked out the list, and what surprised by some of the natives to my state. a lot of them I did not even know were native. The one that surprised me the most was that creeping phlox is native not only to my state but the u.s.

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  5. Great post, Nell Jean! We have a problem with some native invasive species, like fireweed (epilobium angustifolia), and the prickly rose (rosa acicularis)but gratefully not a lot of others. The non-natives, some of which I've tried are at a minimum, and manageable with root cutting in the spring.

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  6. Excellent discussion, Nell Jean. I can't abide those who are 'all native or nothing' type of dogmatics. If we grew ONLY native food plants, we'd have a pretty bland diet. And what might be native here is not found even in the province next door to us, and vice versa.
    That being said, I've been a proponent of native plants since I was a student at Agricultural College, lo these 30 years ago. (gulp!) Our gardens are a mixture of hybrids and heritage, native and naturalized plants. I'm especially partial to native trees and shrubs and any plants that are beneficial to pollinators, be they introduced or native. But like Carol, I wish bad evil things on whoever introduced Bishops Weed/goutweed into our gardens...

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  7. I like to mix things up, but don't decide where a plant is from before it goes in my garden. If I like it and it is zone appropriate, I'll give it a home.

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  8. I'm no purist but I do grow quite a few natives in areas of my property that receive no watering. I think my world is so harsh that they are generally well-behaved.

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  9. I remember singing that song in first grade! Memories...
    I have a couple of American Beauty Berries that I planted last fall.
    I like a lot of other plants as well as native/adapted plants for Texas. Some of my choices don't like Austin, however. :/

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  10. I prefer diversity in every aspect of my life and that includes the garden. I worry a bit when I hear only native plants that some folks take that to mean digging up the precious wildflowers on the endangered lists. I simply could not garden without a colorful array of natives and immigrants.

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  11. Hi Nell~~ You know, it's funny that you mention Vitex being a problem. Here in Oregon, nursery people are suggesting Vitex in place of Buddleia which is supposedly invasive. Honestly, I don't know what to think. At one time every plant on the planet was a newbie somewhere.

    This controversy isn't going anywhere fast.

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  12. Really informative post - I want a paw paw patch! In my Connecticut yard I've left most of the native elders that came with the property - they are bird magnets!

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  13. A thoughtful topic, Nell Jean, thanks for giving us fodder for thought. We are fairly new to the native bandwagon, mostly from pressure from blogging friend Gail of Clay and Limestone. Now, we let things formerly known as weeds, grow and try to identify them. Not all are truly native, but as your title suggests, naturalized exotics. Some are good guys too, offering food or the pollinators. The battle against privet and honeysuckly, among others is ongoing. But when thinking of new plants to add, if they are native will sway the jury in their favor. :-)
    Frances

    I can't leave the comment, will try another method.

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  14. We are working to eliminate invasive aliens, as we identify them, amongst the inherited plants. What we plant is mostly indigenous. But fynbos proteas happy up on our mountain, DIE down here in the hot valley. Gardening is a learning curve. Hopefully we are enjoying learning about 'exotic' natives vs common or garden 'aliens'. It is our garden, for wildlife, so we plant both.

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  15. I so enjoyed your "paw-paw" lyrics. Brings back childhood memories.... I agree with all your comments. There are many exotic plants that have been wonderful additions to Southern landscapes without harming the native landscape. Our beloved camellias pop into mind instantly! Thanks for this wonderful post!

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  16. I think we all agree that natives are important to the garden, as are well-behaved exotics. I don't plant native solidago or vernonia in the garden because they are such thugs -- some parts of the world consider these great garden plants. We have to make choices about what works.

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  17. This is a tough one. I originally had a fantasy about emphasizing natives in my garden until I found out that many of my favorites, even ones I thought were quintessentially European, are not natives at all. One example is petunias, which sprout from window boxes all over Europe, and which I don't want to do without. I also find it interesting that supposedly invasive species such as buddleia and lantana are so attractive to native fauna. Go figure. And are we supposed to give up tomatoes and potatoes? No way! As another poster pointed out, at one point every plant on earth was non-native somewhere.

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  18. I've added plants like the spicebush and the blackhaw viburnum and two winged silverbell. I am leaning toward shade tolerant plants native to the woods in my area. I could however never ever do without Japanese maples. Both shade tolerant and do outstanding in my area.

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  19. Great post. And I'm thinking along the lines of native plants as well. This year, I am going to try and get some flower beds in place.

    It's hot and dry here in summer, so native plants seem to be an ideal choice.

    Thanks for your ideas!

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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