More than a few plants that we humans call weeds, other creatures call home. Even among our cherished ornamental flowers, some need to stand long after the beauty pageant is over in order to support the insects they host.
Have an hour to spare? Let's take a walk. First, take in the flowering meadows, visit a wildlife preserve, then saunter down the sweeping waterfront lawns. There, catch views of lighthouses and ferry boats. Next, walk the formal gardens, the cutting gardens, and see the new working greenhouse.
Update on Project Native: New Owner, New Directions
View the photos from my 7/1/14 visit to this native plant nursery and butterfly sanctuary in Housatonic, MA:
I've heard the term "healing garden" more and more lately, particularly in relation to new or renovated health care facilities. At first take, it may seems a little obvious that any garden in a health care environment could be called a healing garden.
Or as a friend of mine asked when she heard I was writing about this topic, "Isn't every garden a healing garden?" Perhaps.
I had fun last year designing and assisting with the installation of an all-native, waterside buffer garden at Lake Hayward, East Haddam, CT. Now the garden is maturing and we saw yarrow and penstemon (aka beardstongue) in full bloom on June 21, 2014. Both plants have a lot of ecological value. Penstemon is recognized by the Xerces Society as attracting large numbers of native bees.
Many a homeowner opens our conversation like this: "Something's missing."
The speaker is not talking about missing car keys or eye glasses, or lamenting an unsatisfying love life. It's the lack of curb appeal, an underperforming foundation garden, an unpleasant view, or the lack of privacy around their homes that's bothering them.
Ever hear of meadow-in-a-can? It's a clever marketing idea but ever so misleading to the would-be grower. A wildflower meadow is a special type of growing space, not a place where we toss some seeds and hope for the best.
A meadow isn't a lawn gone wild.
When I meet a new landscape design client, the conversation almost always begins: "I want something really low maintenance."
Plant shopping, anyone? If you want to encourage our bees, butterflies and birds this year, think native plants. Monarch butterflies, for instance, require plants of the milkweed family to complete their life cycles. And--what a bonus--milkweed happens to be very deer-resistant.
I've heard them called ephemerals. Indeed, they tend to be small, bright, and short-lived. Aside from providing us with a pop of color in the still-brown landscape, spring ephemerals provide sustenance to early insects such as queen bumblebees. Ephemerals sprout in unlikely places, peaking out from beneath leaf litter, between tree roots, along streamsides, and in vernal pools.