Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young
Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows that I am very partial to native plants. I have added many as I replace exotic non-performers and invasives. There were many reasons for this conversion. Bringing in more critters was first. So I planted berry producing shrubs and perennials that produced seed for birds. Then I added host and nectar plants for butterflies always keeping the pollinators in mind.
But one of the best reasons to plant natives is to reduce the maintenance of the garden while increase the health of its habitat. Of course, some natives I planted did not do well as I planted them in the wrong conditions. And some were overachievers taking over areas of the garden increasing the maintenance of my garden.
So I needed a resource that would help me find the best low-maintenance natives to plant in my region of the country. When I found this book, it seemed like a dream come true. Everything I needed to know in one handy little book. So I am reviewing it for you in hopes that you may find it useful too. I am joining in with Holley’s Garden Book Review which usually happens on the 20th.
Author: Lorraine Johnson
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Firefly Books; Revised Ed. (February 6, 2009)
Amazon Price: $9.18
In A Few Words
This comprehensive little book actually profiles 101 different native plants. These are divided into 3 ranges: northeast, prairies and northwest. There are many definitions of a “native plant”. For purposes of this book, the author defines natives as those plants that grew here before the Europeans settled the US.
And the idea of “easy-to-grow” plants was determined by the author as those that require little watering, fertilizing, weeding, pruning, chemicals, money etc. Johnson participated in a survey to determine how low maintenance her native plant garden really was. After keeping track all season she determined she spent little money and time to keep her garden going.
There is a section in the beginning of the book that shows the reader how to use the information in the plant profiles. You will learn both the common and botanical name; height, bloom period; soil, sun, shade, moisture requirements; plant’s native habitat and range; a description; how to propagate, companion plants and any related species. There are also 12 colorful plant charts showing regional plants, plants for specific growing conditions and those that attract butterflies.
What I Liked
I especially liked the idea of growing natives especially with the extreme weather we have been having. My natives have fared well, and I like the idea of adding more that are low-maintenance. While each plant is profiled with basic information, the details of maintenance, propagation and companions was even more useful to my future garden plans. This info will help me determine which plants for my area to grow and how to start them from seed to save some money. Many times you cannot find these gems as plants but you can get the seed. And if I want some related species to add to my garden, these are listed too.
Each plant is represented with a great colorful picture, and there are several garden pictures depicting native plant combinations. Many of these gave me great ideas. Additionally there are photos of the plants in the useful charts at the end of the book. It is hard to find plants that will grow well in dry shade or deep shade. How about those areas that flood or where you may have had drought issues. And I am looking at those native plants that I can add to my meadow so it will be filled with flowers and not invasive weeds. These charts give you the names of the plants for those hard to plant areas so you can look them up in the book and find out more information.
One of the most useful sections in the book is a detailed explanation of how to propagate native flowers and ferns. I can’t wait to begin experimenting next year. I discovered a great way to do this outside so you can grow them from seed and then place the plants in the garden. But this will wait until I have redesigned some areas next year. I’ll share all soon.
Not So Much
There isn’t much not to like about this book. One interesting section is at the end of the book. It is the Ethical Gardener’s Guidelines. While I agree with the premise of these guidelines (ex: don’t disrupt native plant communities, use natural means for fertilizing and weeding) there are a few that folks may not like or be able to adhere to (use plants and seeds that have originated from your bioregion). I know how hard it is to find native plants and seeds around here so I do have to go elsewhere for these plants or seeds. But I do try to stay local when I can.
But the ideas in these guidelines are important, and I was glad that the author included this section in her book about native plants.
Before I read the book, I wondered why the author chose only 100 plants as there are so many she could have chosen. But as Johnson said:
I was guided , however, by the principle that, along with being easy to grow, all should be relatively easy to find in the nursery trade and most should be ones I’d actually grown.
I appreciate the idea that these plants should be easier to find because then it will make the plants easier to place in my garden. So many people are looking for low maintenance and easy to grow plants now due to climate change and economics. So I encourage you to check out this book to find some wonderful plants to grow in your garden that will encourage wildlife to visit, and at the same time be native to your area, not to mention look good too.
***All pictures are of native plants in my garden. The names can be found when you place your cursor on the picture.
“Every child is born a naturalist. His eyes are, by nature, open to the glories of the stars, the beauty of the flowers, and the mystery of life.” ~R. Search
Seasonal Celebrations is coming December 1st. I hope you will join in as we celebrate the changing of the season. The Winter Solstice will be upon us here in the North and the Summer Solstice in the South. Details below!______________________________________________________________________
Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time. I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else. Share your traditions, holidays, gardens and celebrations in pictures, poetry or words starting December 1st. I will post a bit early though around November 29th or 30th.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of fall here in the North and spring in the South. Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.The rules are simple. Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations. If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts. Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post. Make sure to include a link with your comment.
Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (the 20th of December). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the equinox to give us enough time to include your post in our summary. And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create). The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!
Next up on the blog: Monday is time for another Wildflower Tale.
I wrote a guest post over at Vision and Verb. I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my next post on the 12th.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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