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Top Plant Picks For Your Garden

04/20/2015 12:57PM ● By Ryan Frisch

Bleeding Heart and Foam Flower

I love the spring ephemerals, the plants that bloom fleetingly in spring before the trees leaf out reminding us all, that yes, once again, our world will soon be covered in green. Some of my favorites are Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). The buds form in a pendulous cluster starting out as a pink/ purple. As the flowers bloom, they show a blue that is seldom found in flowering plants here, a softly brilliant, light, almost lilac sky blue.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) is another ephemeral that really signals spring for me. It is one of the first flowering plants that you see on riverbanks and roadsides. The pure white, somewhat daisy-like flowers emerge out of the protective wrapping of the plants’ unfolding leaves. The flowers only last a few days but the uniquely notched leaves fill out providing a low ground cover.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a stunning, tall, spired white-flowered plant with textured foliage that adds architectural structure to the back of a semi-shade garden.

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) an 18-inch fern with uniquely patterned fronds and dark chocolate/purple stems, adds a softening, delicate texture to plantings and embraces other plants flowers as they grow together.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is one of the prime sources of food for the Monarch butterfly. It blooms in summer displaying a distinct bright orange clustered flower head.

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) with its stunning tubular, true red flowers on a tall stalk, is a late summer hummingbird magnet.

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) a typically white flowering wonderfully scented shrub, displays spires that attract butterflies and a myriad of other insect pollinators.

Blueberry (Vaccinium) is a workhorse shrub offering pendulous flowers for pollinators in spring, delicious berries in summer, and stunning red foliage in autumn.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier) is a broad genus with plants ranging from shrubs to trees. It is our first tree to bloom with delicate, five-petaled white flowers in the spring. It provides edible fruits as long as you can get to them before the birds. It has spectacular hues of color in autumn ranging from yellow and orange to red.

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly that becomes remarkable after it loses its leaves, displaying bright red berries that add color and food for birds to the sometimes stark winter landscape.


Observations & Advice

A lot of people are becoming much more aware of how their landscape can make an ecological impact. With information in the news about the decline of various bird species, Monarch butterflies, and our main pollinators, honey bees, people are looking to help out by incorporating plants into their landscapes that help attract and sustain these species. Simple solutions include planting more flowering, non-sterile plants, creating a wildflower garden or meadow, replacing your lawn or at least some of it with white clover, and stopping the use of non organic herbicides and pesticides. Have a plan to help keep you focused.

People also want to get more out of their landscape. There has been a resurgence of not only vegetable and herb gardens, but home orchards, berry plantings, soil building, and full on agroforestry. Many people want their landscape to provide for them, not just be an aesthetically beautiful outdoor world. They want to have hands-on interaction.

Think Edibles

If you do only one thing in your landscape this year, plant something edible. It can be as simple as a tomato plant in a pot on your balcony, lettuces or greens inter-mixed in your flower pots, or a planter with culinary herbs. Dwarf curled parsley is a beautifully textured plant that can be used as an edible edging in your flower bed.

Blueberries, either lowbush or highbush, can be interspersed in your landscape, planted in a pot for your patio, or planted in a hedge for delicious berries high in antioxidants and beautiful flaming red fall color. Or you can really commit yourself and plant a fruit or nut-bearing tree. A lot of times you will need two trees for cross-pollination.

Now is a good time to assess your landscape, write down a list of things that you want, and start a plan.

Solving Landscaping Problems

A client lived in a neighborhood with a very small and steep backyard with minimal privacy. They wanted a place to relax from their stressful job, offering privacy, beauty, and a place to grow food. They also needed some solutions to dealing with the steep site. My solution was to design a terraced site with stone walls and walkways. Cascading and creeping plants softened the stone walls and walkways, and perennial plants that bloomed from spring to fall were interspersed throughout. One of the terraces had an intimate fire pit to extend the outdoor season.

Taking advantage of the south-facing slope, raised bed vegetable gardens were located at the top of the slope just outside the door. Fruit trees and shrubs were planned for the top of the slope to provide fruit and privacy.


Flying Mammoths Landscape Design

101 Frazier Road

Worcester, Vermont 05682


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