I recently was asked to review a local neighborhood plan for a model native plant garden for a fairly sunny area. One of the objectives of the design was “to create a somewhat bold statement in sheer volume of foliage and color to draw attention to the site, as well as create a natural setting to attract pollinators, etc.” This is being done to create interest, so other neighbors will want to develop their own small corner native plant gardens.
The site is a northeast corner lot that receives morning sun and faces south. It is shaded by a mature Red Maple (Acer rubrum) tree. The tree is approx 8 feet from the edge of the area to be planted. The soil is clay. The area is approx 9′ x 18′ or 162 square feet. The choice of plants needs to also take into consideration the height restriction imposed by city ordinance of 3 feet.
Maple trees are notorious for hogging surface water so this will make a difference in the plant selection. The maple tree is likely far enough away so the root system may not interfere all that much with the garden (although their roots seem to extend forever), but I suspect the canopy will. We definitely want to stay away from plants which require a lot of moisture.
NATIVE PLANT SUGGESTIONS in order of bloom:
May-Jun Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
May –Jul Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)
Jun-Aug Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis)
Jun-Jul Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis)
Jun-Sep Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Or,
Jul-Oct Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) Deadhead some Brown-eyed Susan in fall; aggressive seeders.
Jul-Aug Nodding Pink Onion (Alliium cernuum) Deadhead some Nodding Onion in fall; aggressive seeders.
Jul-Sep Lavendar Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Aug-Oct New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) Pinch back in June to maintain a shorter stature.
Aug-Oct Heath Aster (Aster ericoides)
Aug-Oct Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Others native plants to consider include:
May-Jun Long Beaked Sedge (Carex sprengelii)
Jun-Aug Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Jul-Sep Bergamot (Monarda fisitulosa) Will stay shorter in dryer soils.
Jul-Sep Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Will stay shorter in dryer soils.
Jul-Oct Zig Zag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
Aug-Sep Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis) Over 3’ tall, but not bushy. As a specimen plant, the city might not object.
To develop a successful garden with plants blooming throughout the season, we need to be mindful of the amount of moisture as well as sunlight the plants require.
Remember! A native plant out of place is not a native plant.
Thanks to Ron Sabai for the focus of this topic.