Plant Search

June 3, 2009


Well thank goodness for the internet!  I’ve sourced things..plants for sure…that I could never find here locally.  I grow mostly natives or cultivars of natives and some pretty obscure ones at that.  Invariably, scouring the internet turns them up via mailorder and moves them happily to my garden. 

Take potentilla tridentata for example.  Are you familiar with it?  It’s common name is three toothed cinquefoil, it’s a good ground cover or rock garden plant and is very delicate looking.  Hard to find because it’s an endangered native species in several states.  It does like acidic soil…and while my soil is acidic, apparently not acidic enough.  It’s planted round my kalmia and both are looking slightly chlorotic.   I did find some a few years ago from a tiny mail order nursery in New England and bought out their (small) stock both years.  I had some losses initially but finally they took…and frankly some of what I thought was lost must also have taken as I have a real flush of it right now! 

The other really, really hard plant to source for me has been rhododendron carolinianum.  It’s a native rhodie…and such a gorgeous soft pink!  Definitely underused if you ask me and thoughit’s native to Tennessee and the Carolinas, it grows in zones 5-8 so theoretically I should be fine.  It’s a lepidote…small leafed variety…rhododendron and needs really good drainage.  I had finally found two a couple years ago and a heavy snow combined with a naughty doggie did them in.  I’ve located some replacements at Harrell’s Farm in North Carolina.   What a nice guy Doug Harrell is too!  I’m in the middle of arranging for two to be shipped to me.  I consider this quite the plant shopping coup to be able to even find two plants that are affordable and at a size larger than seedling!  Rare Find Nursery in New Jersey sometimes has them in very small quantities but they are usually quite small and sell like hotcakes.  However, Rare Find has some amazingly wonderful plants in a wide variety.   Anyway.  Here’s a photograph of R. Carolinianum from North Carolina State University.   Rhododendron CarolinianumNow isn’t that just the softest pink you’ve ever seen?  Yes, I know there are cultivars that would do nicely.  But I’m really trying to stick to the natives as much as possible.  Olga is a cultivar of R. Minus…so a good substitute…likewise PJM.   The colors just don’t work for me so it’s worth it to me to scrounge around to find just the right plant. 

Yesterday, while scrounging around on the internet for Little Spire, I found that a native plant nursery opened up fairly close to me (half an hour away) near my favorite Husqvarna Viking dealer.  I called because I noticed she was listing Dogwoods and Serviceberries in stock and I want one of each for the back yard.   I’m debating whether to plant now or Fall.  Typically I like to plant trees and shrubs in Fall so they settle in over winter and set roots during the Fall to get ready for Spring.  Let’s them survive any summer dryness a little better than if they are planted late spring and then have to try to deal with settling in AND being a bit dry.  I’m a bit disappointed in that I would have liked Pink Dogwood and she only has white but white will do.  I just love pink dogwood and had my heart set on pink.  Given the anthracnose issue, any dogwood is kind of hard to put your hands on lately so I am considering myself lucky to find even white and at an amazingly reasonable price!  Small…but I like smallish trees and shrubs.  They often settle in and grow easier than large ones…and I don’t need to pay somebody to haul and plant them either.   Anyway…she has amelanchier  canadensis for around $20 and the cornus for around $30.  I am hearing the birds singing already!  (well, literally because it’s about 6 am and they are out in the front trees waking up for the day).  I think they are both great additions to the back where I plan to cater to the birds with perennials and grasses that will give them insects and seeds and lots of viburnum and native hollies for berries.  The two trees will also provide loads of berries for them too.  While I won’t live long enough to see these trees really flourish and reach their full potential given their small size, future homeowners will and I feel like I am planting a lasting legacy.  I just hope they enjoy and treasure them and aren’t heathens like some of my neighbors who think trees are meant for cutting down and concrete should be spread around all over the place!  Anyway.  Everybody knows what white dogwood looks like but not everybody knows Serviceberry.  So here’s a picture of serviceberry I found from the University of Connecticut’s site.  Plant one…your birds will thank you and strip it clean every year!    amecan31See all those white flowers?  They become purplish berries later and the birds just love them! 

In fall the viburnum can go in.  I want several varieties.  Some beautyberry, a couple of native hollies and maybe a chokeberry too.  Then a few choice perennials and grasses, a New Jersey Tea and the birds should be getting a lot happier…and the slop below the retaining wall will be too full to grow its usual crop of hideous weeds.  All that will remain is the wall around the shed and driveway and steps to the shed as well as the little pondless waterfall.  I wonder if I’ll be able to get my unenthusiastic husband to do it?  He’ll be retired then…I know he’ll have time.   I think the three of these things are projects for next spring and I’ll plant for them next fall…and then my garden is where it should be on all counts.  All that will be left is to tend and enjoy it…and watch the birdes enjoy it!



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