“What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
Gertrude Jekyll, On Gardening
Summer is upon us and there are so many things happening this week. If you didn’t know about the Pollinator Partnership, and that it is Pollinator Week you should check it out. So what better time to have Wildflower Wednesday at Clay and Limestone then during Pollinator Week. Pollinators depend on native plants, and they certainly go crazy for them in my garden. Trying to capture pictures of pollinators is another skill I am still working on.
I was reminded by a wonderful blogger, Karla, at Gardendaze’s Blog about the Great Sunflower Project. Needless to say I signed up. It reminds me of some of the other phenology type projects out there; easy to do, but you have to be diligent. I chose monarda as my flower to track bees since sunflowers are a long way off here. I’ll let you know how I it goes once my monarda bloom.
But for this post, I thought I would concentrate on some new natives I have decided to plant in my garden and a wonderful native plant nursery I was reacquainted with recently. I’ll start with why I wanted to add more natives. I have been overrun with horsetail and it is becoming quite a mess. If you don’t know about horsetail, then you are lucky. Horsetail is a wild plant, and in my garden it has taken over. Many call it a weed, but really it is an ancient plant so I do give it some reverence. It is said to be a remnant from the Carboniferous Period from about 354 to 290 million years ago during the late Paleozoic Era. I always think of them as looking like little evergreen bushes that are virtually indestructible. They spread by spores in the spring, and quickly take over an area.
It certainly looks harmless, but it can totally fill in and obscure other plants like the yarrow above. The yarrow is tall enough to rise above it, but anything smaller and the horsetail covers it. I thought it was bad before, but this year with all the rain it has made the problem worse. Think of any of your gardens overrun with any weed or plant and then you get the idea. So do you smother it with newspaper, use organic weed killers, pull it and mulch it? Actually no…none of the above…they do not work or can actually make it worse.
So when I was reading a blog recently (unfortunately I cannot remember whose blog it was), I happened on a link to Controlling Horsetail. Now I have searched and read a lot about this plant, but had found nothing helpful that I didn’t already know until this article. It really is quite simple-horsetail thrives in boggy conditions. To get rid of it you have to improve the soil.
- Wet soil is the worst, but I have improved the drainage the best I can at this point so on to the next point.
- Raise the pH of the soil above 7. I had not considered my soil acidic, but it probably is if horsetail is thriving.
- Add nutrients to the soil. Well the soil has been unchanged for at least 4 years now, and the areas where it is the worst could use a good layering of compost and manure. Can’t hurt it.
- Add good ground covers to act as a weed suppressant so it can’t get a foothold.
Once you do this, the horsetail virtually dies back on it’s own or at least improves in a year. It can thrive is dry clay soils where the soil may need amending too. What I have discovered through all this is that my soil is probably in need of amending in any area where horsetail growing. I would bet horsetail is a good indicator that you need to improve the nutrients in your soil too.
So as I was making plans to spread dolomite lime and then the manure/compost, I thought I should look into some ground covers. I have many in other areas, but they are not native. I researched some native ground covers and remembered I had read about a native plant nursery nearby. That’s when I checked out Amanda’s Garden.
Amanda’s Garden is a native perennial nursery that has a wonderful selection and ships your order. When I emailed the owner, Ellen Folts, she was happy to take my order through email. They also take your order via mail or phone too. The website is full of great information about the plants they grow.
The nursery is about an hour south of Rochester, NY which is west of me about 2 hours. Located in Springwater, NY, they specialize in woodland wildflowers, and carry some prairie and wetland plants. I am lucky because Ellen has a wonderful sister that lives close by who is willing to pick up orders and bring them back to my neck of the woods. She is about 20 minutes away so it is an easy pick up saving me shipping charges. As Ellen and I exchanged emails, it dawned on me that I knew her. Come to find out Ellen was at the Native Plant Symposium my school had put on about 6 years ago. As a matter of fact, I have many of her wonderful native plants thriving in my gardens. I cannot wait to reconnect with Ellen and visit the nursery.
So on to the plants…..they were large, lush and not expensive at all. I think the most I paid for 1 plant was $6.
I purchased (clockwise starting upper left):
Pachysandra procumbens or Alleghany Pachysandra–ground cover for shade
Carex appalachica or Sedge, Upland–perfect for the dry shade under the trees once I weed it out
Asarum canadense or Wild Ginger–great ground cover for shade
Stylophorum diphyllum or Yellow Wood Poppy–for the moist sunny areas in spring
Geranium maculatum or Wild Geranium–ground cover for moist shady or part sun areas
Solidago caesia or Goldenrod, Blue-stemmed–moist sunny areas
Carex mertensii–moist sunny location
Actaea pachypoda or Doll’s Eyes-moist shady location (already planted with my native collection in the shade)
As the horsetail project unfolds this summer, I will keep you updated, and I will follow up on my Amanda’s Garden plants. Don’t forget Friday it will be Fertilizer Friday at Tootsie Time. Time to wander around and see more June blooms.
“Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.”
– Hal Borland
Special Note: All natives pictured here are in my garden. Soon the wonderful natives from Amanda’s Garden will be too. Monthly around this time (usually the 10th) I guest blog at Walkabout Chronicles. I hope you can join me for my most recent post and interview.