Saturday, October 12, 2013

A native shade garden

Adams Garden native plant blog has a new entry on replacing English ivy with natives in a shady corner.  They've included a couple goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) for early summer flowers, but this corner will be most interesting in the fall.  As a ground cover they planted jumpseed (Polygonum virginianum), an annual that flowers in late summer and fall.  The focal point is a strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus), which has showy fruits in the fall.  I don't own a picture of this, so if you've never seen it, click through and take a look.  There's nothing else like it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Filling in the gaps

I noticed last month that nothing was flowering in my front flower bed, so that had to change.  The eventual goal for this bed is to create a cottage style garden with year round interest using a mix of native and non-invasive introduced species.  You'll see in the before and after pictures that there's not a huge difference, but it's a step in the right direction.  Please excuse my unmown grass.  Anyway, the purple heucheras have been joined by native green heucheras (supposedly Heuchera americana and Heuchera villosa, though I'm not sure if they were labeled correctly at the plant sale).  One of them is currently flowering, which is nice.  I look forward to seeing whether the foliage turns color this fall or whether they stay green through the winter.
Front flower bed before adding new plants.

Front flower bed after adding new plants.

I also added a couple native goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus) in the back, but you can't see them.  They will be joined by some non-native astilbe with a similar growth pattern and flowering season.  The tallest of the new plants is an ironweed, which is done flowering for now but next year will be good for late summer flowers.

The low green rosettes are lobelias, both cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica).  My previous lone cardinal flower did very well this year, attracting hummingbirds and making a long stalk of seedpods, so I planted some more of them.

Now with more lobelias.
The most striking of the new plants is blue mistflower or wild ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum).  Although this picture was taken a couple weeks ago, it's still flowering in mid-October.
Blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Blue mistflower is a native perennial that has a showy blue-purple flower in the fall.  I've seen a lot of them by the roadsides, contrasting nicely with the yellows of the goldenrods and asters.  It's supposed to spread quickly, so I hope I'm justified in planting only one for now.