Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love the natives!

From the time I was a child, one of my favorite pleasures has been to walk in the woods and seek out and enjoy wildflowers. I had the good fortune to grow up in a rural area in mid-Michigan on a farm, with a huge cedar swamp and a couple of patches of deciduous woods to explore. I reveled in such woodland treasures as trailing arbutus, blood root, dog-tooth violets, huge white trilliums, violets of all kinds, witch hazel, wild phlox, and secret dark places under the pines where Indian pipes thrust up ghostly white flowers. In the summer there were black-eyed susans, daisies, blackberries, columbine and meadows full of flowers taller than I was (which in retrospect, wasn't that tall at all!). Fall brought goldenrod and wild grapes and chokeberries for juice and jellies. Down in the deep swamp there were soft mosses, ferns, fascinating fungi and water plants that I never learned to identiy but loved anyway. On the sandy barrens were sun mosses and lichens, British soldiers that I loved, laying on my stomach to study them in the hot sun. I knew where all the bee trees were, where the blackberries and wild grapes were the thickest. I knew where the owl roosted in the daytime, where the deer hid in the swamp and played with turtles, watched for snakes, and hunted bear tracks. I never saw one but there were, actually, black bears in those cedar swamps, and still are, for all I know.   My wonderful days in those woods influenced my gardening tastes for all of my life.
As I grew up and made gardens of my own, I always made a special spot for my native loves. To my delight, my Chaotic acre came with a small patch of woods, already blessed with a small patch of wild things, to which I have spent the last 25 years adding native plants and wildflowers. Now, I have a veritable carpet of them, and as often happens, new things keep showing up voluntarily each year, probably as a result of birds "helping" me. I also use native plants in my perennial beds and borders. I find that they are hardier, more disease resistant, bloom longer, and their colors are not as garish nor their flowers as outlandish as some of the new cultivars. So....I have been asked to post a partial list of the nearly 300 different varieties of native things I have, some of them truly native and some of them I have naturalized. I left out a lot, there isn't enough space on these pages for everything and you all would be bored to tears with such a list.  

Erigenia (Harbinger of Spring)
Claytonia Virginica (Spring Beauty)
Isopyrum biternatum (false rue anemone)
Hepatica Nobilis (hepatica)
Erythronium Albidum (dog-tooth violet)
Dentaria Laciniata (toothwort)
Dicentra ucullaria (Dutchman's breeches)
Podyphyllum peltatum (Mayapple)
Nothoscordum bivalve (False Garlic)
Antennaria plantaginifolia (pussytoes)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Trillium Flexipes (white trillium)
Ribes missouriense (wild gooseberry)
Anemone virginiana (Thimbleweed)
Camassia Scilloides (wild hyacinth)
Houstonia (bluets)
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Polygonatum commutatum (Solomon's seal)
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein, yellow)
Penstemon digitalis (beard tongue, wild penstemon)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy)
Silene Stellata (starry campion)
Veronicastrum (Culver's root)
Eupatorium (Joe-Pye weed)
Spiranthes (Ladies tresses, wild orchid)
Ranunculus (buttercup)
Corydalis flavula (pale corydalis)
Brassica nigra (black mustard)
Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy)
Hesperis Matronalis (dames's rocket)
Coreopsis laceolata (tickseed coreopsis)
Aesculus (buckeye)
Oenethera misouriensis ( Missouri evening primrose)
Impatiens capensis (wild impatiens, touch-me-not)
Rudbeckia Hirta (black-eyed Susan)
Verbascum thapsus (Mullein)
Ratibidia pinnata (grey-headed coneflower)
Ooenothera biennis (evening primrose)
Hypericum (St John's wort)
Cassia (wild senna)
Belamcanda (blackberry lily)
Bidens (Beggar-ticks)
Solidago (goldenrood)
Arisaema dracontium (green dragon)
Thalictrum (meadow-ryue)
Arisaema atroarubens (Jack in the pulpit)
Asarum canadensis (wild ginger)
Trillium sessile
Cercis canadensis (redbud)
Dodecatheon (shooting star)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Monarda (2 wild varieties, one blooms early spring, native to Arkansas)
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine)
Miribilis (wild 4-o'clock)
Echinacia (Coneflower)
Asclepias purpurascens (purple milkweed)
Campsis radicans (trumpet vine)
Oenethera speciosa (pink evening primrose)
Physostegia virginica
Ruellia (wild petunia)
Shrankia (sensitive briar)
Saponaria (soapwort)
Phlox divaricata (wild phlox, 3 or 4 varieties)
Liatris (2 or 2 varieties)
Asters, several varieties
Violas (7 varieties, yellows, whites, blues)
Mertensia virginica (virginia bluebells)
Sisyrinchium (Blue-eyed grass)
Polemonium (Jacob's ladder)
Viola pedata (bird's foot violet)
Tradescantia (spiderwort, several varieties)
Phacelia (Miami mist)
Amorpha canescens (lead plant)
Chicorium (chicory)
Camanula American (tall bellflower)
Gentiana andrewsii (closed gentian)
Eupatorium (mist flower)
Iris fulva Copper iris)
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag)
Water pickerel
a dozen or so varieties of native ferns
Tiarella cordifolia
Many mosses and lichens
Trees and shrubs
Cornus Florida (white dogwood)
           also red-twig and grey-twig dogwood)
Crataegus (Hawthorn, the Missouri state tree)
Viburnum (blackhaw)
Deciduous holly
Red oak
Blackjack oak
White oak
Cercis canadensis (redbud)
Amalanchier (serviceberry)
Sambucus canadensis (elderberry)
White pine
Black cherry
Bird Cherry
Staghorn sumac
Cotinus (American smoke tree)
Robinia (black locust)
Robinia (Bristly locust)
American bittersweet
Hamamelis (witchhazel)
Juniperus Virginiana (red cedar)
Juglans nigra (black walnut)

Take the garden smackdown challenge! Post a list of the native plants you grow!

 A book I recommend: " Landscaping with Wildflowers" by Jim Wilson.


  1. I'm going to bookmark this page as it is quite a good list. I am only now trying to understand natives better. Your childhood sounds wonderful growing up in the woods. I grew up with woods in Maine and loved the natives too but unfortunately did not stick with them. Sigh. I love your woods. I have some here but it is not as natural as yours. I'm trying to rectify that now. What can you tell me about lead plant? I got some seeds in a seed swap with fellow bloggers and am getting ready to start them but don't know anything about it. Thanks.

  2. I forgot to ask you if you are aware of Blotanical? It is a directory of garden blogs (close to 2000). A location all garden bloggers can converse with others. You might check it out and see if it interests you. It is easily found when you Google Blotanical. I am noticing many more new bloggers and try to spread the word since sometimes these things are hard to find.

  3. The photo of the woods is the actual place where I spent my childhood ramblings. Revisited a couple of years ago, and still there. The other photos are in my own woods.
    Thanks for the tip about Blotanical, I'll check it out!

  4. That's QUITE an impressive list! Nice work! Much of my childhood was spent in the woods as well, and I'm working on making my garden more evocative of that with plants that are native both to New England and the South (surprisingly, there's a lot of overlap). Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for taking the challenge!

  5. Wow. I'm not sure if I could list everything in my garden. I'm pretty random about planting.

    Your description of your childhood is similar to mine, except that I moved around a lot. I always seemed to find the woods, though. I grew up in the US as well as Europe, and I always remember the woods and the wildflowers in each place.

    I'll look for you in Blotanical.

  6. I left a lot of stuff out. The perennial beds are extensive, and hosta beds even more so. I'm not sure I could list everything in the garden! And yes, Andrew, there is a lot of overlap! Lots of things from the north that I wish I could grow here, but I guess I can't have everything. Though I do try. (Did I mention I worked at a landscape and garden center for nearly 20 years? I seldom met a plant I didn't like!)

  7. I also grew up exploring the woods. They seem so large to me as a child but as an adult going back to the old house, I see they were a mere small plot of land. A child’s imagination is really huge and can absorb so much being in the great outdoors! If only more children would get out from behind a computer or TV and go outside, sigh. Great list you have there girl…