Like many gardeners, I’m a creature of habit. Sometimes this is good, but when routine becomes a rut, it’s a good idea to give yourself a boot and try something new. ~Edward C. Smith
In my zeal to grow more native plants and wildflowers, I have been looking for a great source to help me. After all, it can be hard to find plants or bare root natives that are reasonably priced. Many times I will only find seeds for natives I want to grow, but feel wholly inadequate in my skills as a gardener to grow the seeds successfully.
And with retirement, I am constantly reminded of carefully budgeting my money. So what better way to grow more plants than by gathering seeds, divisions or cuttings from plants I already own like the native Spiderwort above. That way I can just spend my money on hard to find plants. So when I saw this book, I was curious if it would give me the information I was seeking.
Author: Harry R. Phillips
Paperback: 341 pages
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (May 23, 1985)
Amazon Price: $25.16 (paperback; $12 used)
In A Few Words
This book is based on ten years of pioneering research at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. That in and of itself drew me to this book. The book was written to help gardeners find easy ways to grow their own native plants. As the author states:
This book is designed, first, to give you a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of gardening with native plant material and, second, to provide specific information on the propagation and cultivation of some 100 genera of native plants.
The first part of the book gives attention to soil preparation, maintenance of plants, propagation through the seasons, and ends with details and ideas/plans for designing a garden bed with natives. The second part is all about propagating native plant seed. There are sections on seed collecting, seed storage, seed dormancy, pregermination, propagation by seed and asexual propagation (division and cuttings). The third section deals with the almost 100 wild flowers featured in the book. Section four is all about carnivorous plants while section five deals with ferns. For each plant they include drawings instead of photos. Also provided is a description of the plant (habitat; height; time in flower; flower shape, color, size; leaf or frond characteristics), its fruit and seed characteristics, how to collect/clean/store the seed, propagation, cultivation, uses in the garden, related species and any special notes.
The last part of the book includes a glossary, recommended reading and how to organize a plant rescue.
What I Liked
I found the book to be an extensive resource for just about any of the most well known native plants. That they included carnivorous plants and ferns was a big plus as most books tend to focus on the wildflowers. I didn’t mind that they did not use photos of plants. I think the drawings force you to really pay attention to the features of the plant, and certainly will hone my visual identification skills.
While the extensive information provided for each plant is wonderful, I especially love the cultivation section and extra notes. In these sections, I learned more about where best to site the plants and the important details on which to focus my attention for cultivating natives. I also found great little tidbits like how to make your own bog for some of those natives that love this habitat. I actually have a section of my garden perfect for a bog (it actually has almost become one). I look forward to studying this section of the garden more this year. Maybe I will finally get the right plants to grow there.
One of the most important sections of the book for me was designing with natives. There are lists of plants and simple designs for gardens in full sun, partial sun and full shade. And in each plant profile they also provide a list of companion native plants.
Not So Much
Some may not like the lack of photos in the book. And the fact that this is a resource for native plants found east of the Mississippi River makes it limited to those states. Although I do think many of the same natives are found in the Plains and Northern Plain States.
There is so much information in this book that you cannot read it all at once nor would you want to. For home gardeners, I suggest using it as a resource to better know your natives, how to grow them whether from seed, cuttings or divisions and how to use them in your garden or landscape. For those who want to sell natives, it is a great resource as well with production notes scattered throughout.
As I make my observations of the garden this year, I will note plants I want to cultivate and move to other areas of the garden. These will be the plants from the book, I will focus on. For now I am taking copious notes from the research and information found in the book, and also culled from gardeners just like us who have had experience (positive and negative) with these plants. In the garden, I think there is nothing better to cultivate learning than experience.
“Gardening engages the mind in an unending quest for knowledge, for it would take many lifetimes to know and understand everything that is found in even one small garden.” ~Allen Lacy
Seasonal Celebrations will be starting on March 1st. Please join us as we celebrate our next season spring. Details about how to join are 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 March 1st.
And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme. What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn 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 equinox (around the 20th of March). And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog. Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice 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. The badges here can be used in your post. So won’t you join in the celebration!!______________________________________________________________________
Next up on the blog: Monday will bring another Simply The Best Native plant profile.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.
I can also be found blogging once a month at Vision and Verb. You can see my posts here.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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