|From In the Garden|
******PSA*****Tomorrow's workshop on Tennessee Yards/Neighborhoods Done Right is CANCELED! ***
The one thing I have always valued most from blogging is learning. I am a life long learner and consider learning to be a basic principle and tenet of my life. It sounds corny but it is true and probably explains why I've attended college in some form or another for more than twenty years. Yes, you heard right-more than twenty years. Some of my close friends and family consider me a 'professional student'. I consider that a great compliment even if it is meant in a fun way instead of a serious way because learning is great!
Prior to beginning this blog in September of 2007 I knew very little about native plants. In fact, I kind of knew nothing. Yes, sure, I knew there was a native plant movement and that there were purists who espoused only native plants. I understood native plants are adapted to the their natural location and that they required less maintenance, but I just did not know enough about the plants themselves in order to really focus on native plantings so I never really paid much attention to the movement-until now.
The one thing I have always paid attention to was plant collecting. My number one goal for my garden is biodiversity. To me biodiversity means the greatest number of living organisms living together in a harmony. Specifically, I wish for a wide variety of plants (trees, shrubs, perennials, etc) for the pleasure of viewing, touching, smelling, and perhaps tasting. I also wish for these diverse plants to attract a great deal of other living creatures-insects such as butterflies, frogs, toads, and other small amphibians, and all birds-no deer, chipmunks, voles or squirrels need apply. I think a wider range of plants is more likely to attract more wildlife and so I collect plants. But let's be honest, I also collect plants to have the plants for my pleasure and to be the first one on the block with that new plant or that cool plant or the plant that no one else has or can get to grow. Yes, I will admit it all-plant collecting is for me.
I try to put all plants together in a fashion that pleases me. I envision sweeping English styled borders right next to moss carpeted woodland paths where trilliums bloom with abandon. I want the tallest oak tree, the greenest lawn, and the largest stand of brilliant coneflowers, I want it all in my garden. The reality is this, I can't have it all. After gardening here for eight years I've come to realize my dream of English styled borders will not work under the mature oaks and other trees I have on my property. I have had to adjust my vision of what type of plants and gardens please me.
It has been a struggle but one long overdue. I am now focusing more on shade plants and shade tolerant plants than any other type of plant. It is a bitter pill for me to swallow but after many failures in my garden I've decided to really work with my garden and change my focus from those English styled borders to a more natural setting. I have some spots that do receive some sun and I will still work within every square inch of those areas to grow the perennials I so love, but I am focusing more on native plants. And let me tell you why.
The biggest reason I am focusing on native plants in addition to learning about them more in depth-thanks to blogging-has been that many native plants are adapted to the shady conditions in my garden. If you think about it you will realize why. My area of the country is covered by deciduous forests. It is the primary biome of Tennessee and much of the southeastern United States. I think the term is called 'temperate deciduous forest biome' and explains why so many oaks, maples, hickories, and many other trees grow in this region. All of these types of trees make their home in my garden. I love my trees but the trade off is I have to choose more shade tolerant, and in most cases, less colorful plants to grow under the trees.
Fortunately, due to my plant collecting I have inadvertently already added many natives to my garden as well as non-natives and even some exotic plants. I am not going to stop collecting plants but I do plan to be more aware of a plant's origin when purchasing a new plant. This will give me an edge in ensuring a plant is adaptable to my climate and growing conditions regardless of whether the plant is native or non-native. Starting next Wednesday I've added another standard day posting to my monthly calender on my sidebar. Gail of Clay and Limestone posts a Wildflower Wednesday on her blog the fourth Wednesday of the month. I have learned so much from her blog regarding wildflowers and natives and for that I am most grateful to her. Since I had that Wednesday free I thought it would be an ideal 'Standard Day Posting' to add to my blog. Bear with me as I post on natives and wildflowers because I am still learning.
I am going to include not only wildflowers but natives on this Wednesday. I don't think the two are the same thing so I've taken a bit of a liberty with Gail's meme. Next Wednesday's post will see my first native plant posting. I have two Virginia bloggers to thank for identifying the plant for me and I will publicly thank them in that post. Like I said I am not too good with these natives so without the help of other bloggers-like you-I could never learn and I tell you that would not be a good thing for me-professional student or not:)
Now for a clue or two as to what this native plant might be:
1. It is evergreen.
2. It looks and smells like a Eastern red cedar but grows only 4" high.
3. It is a groundcover.
4. It grows in full shade-a bonus!
Check in next Wednesday for the answer. I could not find this plant in my books and there is scant information on the web about it. Please no guesses on this post. If you know the plant check in next Wednesday and say so then. Let's all learn together. Thanks.
in the garden....
The pictured wildflower above was identified by Gail. Thanks! It is a crinkled toothwort (Cardamine diphylla). It is so exciting seeing the stirrings of new life in the ground-native or not:)
I have been out of town on a garden learning trip, but will return later this evening and be around to visit all my blogging friends as soon as I am able to unwind and unpack. Thanks for visiting and be sure to put your thinking cap on for identifying this beautiful native plant I'll feature next week.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,
In the Garden