Deb C's Garden

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Deb C's Garden

 

Deb C's Garden

(Larger version)

 

Echinacea PallidaAsclepias tuberosaRudbeckia hirta with Physocarpus opulifolious in background, June 29, 2012 

 

 

Echincea

 

 

Penstemon digitalis in early snow.  October 29, 2008

 

 

PenstemonWinter

 

 

Geum triflorum, May 31, 2007

 

 

 

GeumTriflorum

 

American Goldfinches on Echinacea pallida, Bee Condo, June 28, 2011

 

Bee Condo

 

 

Monarch on Liatris cylindracea, July 01, 2012 

 

Monarch Liatris

 

Two-spotted Bumble Bee on Rosa blanda, June 17, 2011:

 

 

 

 

Calico Pennant on Liatris cylindracea, July 23, 2011:

 

 

 

Leaf Cutter Bee on Campanula rotundifolia,  June 28, 2011:

 

 

 

 

Surprises in a Native Plant Garden


by Deborah Chute

Butterflies are possessive of my garden. Last July, a feisty little question mark chased a monarch from the swamp milkweed patch (Asclepias
incarnata). It then landed on top of the redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) and stayed there for some time as if keeping watch over its domain. When
I tried to take photographs, it twice landed on my head apparently warning me away as well!

A few years ago, my husband and I built a new home and opted for native plant gardens instead of the monoculture of mowed lawns. To our
surprise and delight, wildlife heartily approved our choice! And the Richmond Hill Garden and Horticultural Society did too, posting
a Front Garden Recognition 2011 sign in our front yard.

Because we made the usual mistake of planting too many trees, we ended up enjoying four years of white spruce (Picea glauca) Christmas Trees that we
culled from our backyard. This year the highlight among our native trees was the first-time flowering of both the redbud and the tulip tree
(Liriodendron tulipifera). The tulips were particularly breathtaking.

Paul Heydon and his local native plant nursery, Grow Wild!, guided our choices. Since it was a new yard with only small trees, the plants needed to
fit a hot, sunny, dry environment. I'd help them out the first year with watering, but otherwise these plants were to be on their own. That has
worked out well. We are saving on water and watering time.

Fortunately, there is one rather wet area near the landscape swales at the back of the yard that supports the much welcome mid-and late-summer
blooms of marsh hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos) and the beautiful blue bottle gentian (Gentiana andrewsii).Over 50 species of native plants are
now thriving in the front and back gardens. The goal is to provide lots of colour and texture contrast at all times.

Native plants are particularly challenging in this regard due to their smaller flowers and often short blooming time. Larger groupings in
many places around the yard seem to be working for me. This is especially true for the small but vibrant flowers of early blooming blue-eyed grass
(Sisyrinchium montanum).

Colour groupings have also served to highlight blooms, for example, blue harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) alongside orange butterfly milkweed
(Asclepias tuberosa). Plants with differing leaf structures or shades of green also help: the lacy leaf structure of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)
near the grass- like and lighter green leaves of nodding wild onion (Allium  cernuum).

A favourite all-season native plant of mine is foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis). If two or three are planted together, it produces a nice
fountain-like display. It revives its green base leaves quickly in the spring, blooms with hundreds of white blossoms on long stems in June,
produces rusty red to bright red leaves in the fall and pokes its seed heads out of the snow in winter.

In the beginning, I was diligent about deadheading, hoping to get the neighbours with their manicured lawns on side. I was rewarded for this
extra work when a neighbour told me that their son had moved his bedroom to the back of their house so that he could overlook our garden!

Pedestrians passing by the front garden are often attracted to the bright red and yellow wild columbine flowers (Aquilegia canadensis) or the
sparkling seed heads of prairie smokeā€¦ and they go home with pots for their gardens.

I definitely wanted a garden rich in biodiversity and that's what I got. .....


(Remainder of text in the Summer 2012 Blazing Star)