It was motherhood that encouraged Alicia Houk’s switch to gardening with native plants.She had actually trained as a scientist, finishing a master’s degree in pollinator ecology while pursuing a passion for growing her own food in the vegetable garden. When her first kid was born 8 years back, however, she couldn’t dedicate as much time to gardening, and she discovered native plants, types adapted to her landscape and climate, less demanding than food crops. That was specifically true once she started presenting native annual flowers to her Iowa garden.
She blogged about this experience in her blog site, A Wild Garden (awildgarden.com), in a December 2020 post “Letting the Garden Garden: Native Self-Seeding Annuals.” I found this so helpful, and initial, that I called her for a discussion on the subject.Since that post
, Alicia told me, she and her household had moved from Iowa to Vermont, that made her experience even more directly appropriate to my New England gardening. Still, the benefits Alicia has discovered in native annuals would use, with a little translation, to essentially any region.My experience with annuals had actually been largely limited to the introduced types such as petunias, marigolds, snapdragons and others that are conventional fare in conventional gardening. I had not given much attention to the analogs in the native plants and their extra benefits.The native annuals share numerous advantages with the annuals of foreign origin
you will discover at the garden center in spring. The natives are similarly fast-growing, sprouting from seed to mature and flowering in a matter of a number of months. The native annuals are also just as long-blooming: Annuals, whether native or unique, are genetically configured to finish their lives in a single growing season and literally flower themselves to death, potentially flowering constantly for months.If a conventional, unique yearly sprouts freely the list below year from the seeds it spreads out through the landscape, it is labeled”weedy”and even intrusive. When a native annual does this, however, it’s an eco-friendly and horticultural perk. That native yearly benefits the local wildlife, in particular native pollinators. It likewise helps to keep weeds from getting into the garden.As Alicia discussed, the native annuals fill the”seed bank “of the soil in your garden.Defined botanically as”leader plants”the annuals have actually evolved to respond to
any disturbance in the landscape, anything that opens a space in the plant life. Their fast-germinating seeds quickly fill such gaps with seedlings, developing a sort of living patch so that weeds discover less chance. Nor do you need to wait on a natural disruption. Often Alicia will motivate the native annuals by scratching a spot of soil to develop such an opportunity.Including native annuals in your planting, she pointed out, likewise indicates that the wildflower garden comes into blossom earlier. Perennials normally take a number of years to establish themselves prior to they flower; native annuals flower in the garden’s first season. As they seed themselves around the garden, the native annuals likewise add an aspect of spontaneity, making sure that the specific arrangement of the flowers is never ever precisely the very same from year to year.Alicia has her favorites amongst the native, self-seeding annuals. Black-eyed Susans(Rudbeckia hirta )are a standby. Annual fleabane(Erigeron annuus ), regardless of the uninviting name, offers clusters of small, white, daisy-like flowers that she finds irresistible,
and it is a vigorous, self-reliant grower. She likes to plant spots of it amidst her lawn, integrating it with the garden and creating what she refers to as an”heavenly atmosphere.””Who does not like columbines(Aquilegia canadensis)?” Alicia asks.The self-seeding native annuals likewise attract a host of pollinators to the garden. She had actually checked out, for instance, in a book about butterfly gardening that yellow-flowered partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasiculata) draws in sleepy orange and orange sulfur butterflies. She planted some in her garden this year and indeed those
winged visitors did come. Likewise, identified jewelweeds(Impatiens capensis )and cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis)attract hummingbirds. To download a list of 24 self-seeding native annuals, check out Alicia’s blog.Besides her garden blogging, Alicia also preserves a native garden design organization and teaches about native plant gardening at the Osher Lifelong Knowing Institute of Dartmouth College. No wonder she needs every minute those native self-seeding annuals can save her.To listen to our discussion, log onto the Growing Greener podcast of the Berkshire Arboretum at berkshirebotanical.org/growinggreener.