• Time for a Black Eye
    Which Black Eyed Susan is Which?  Do you want a black eye? Black eyed Susan, that is. Or is that a brown eyed Susan? The other day someone asked me how to differentiate this group of plants that, at first glance, look so much alike. Today, I will attempt to tackle that question here.  Those who know me know that I get really frustrated with common names for plants. Depending on where you live, the name black eyed Susan is used for a number of […]
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?
    Many of is remember the old nursery rhyme Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? Although historians disagree on the possible political meanings behind this 18th century English nursery rhyme, I wish to use this question “How does your garden grow” to explore the various approaches to gardening with native plants. Naturalized Gardens We all garden with native plants for different reasons. Some gardeners attempt to create a more ‘natural’ habitat for insects, birds and other wildlife on their property and design their […]
  • Invasive Species, Weeds, Nativars and Other Terms of Confusion 
    The native plant gardening world is full of terminology that those gardening with non-natives have seldom had to consider. In this month’s article, I hope to shed some light on what some of these terms actually mean so that you can speak confidently and knowledgeably with garden center staff and fellow gardeners.  Native vs Naturalized  I started my journey into native plant gardening with the purchase of a package of “wildflower” seeds. When I recognized California poppies, bachelor’s buttons, and a few others I knew […]
  • 2b or Not 2b – The Story Behind Plant Hardiness Zones
    Most gardeners are familiar with the Plant Hardiness Zone (PHZ) maps that are found in many seed catalogues and garden centers, and with the paired numbering system (2a, 2b, 3a, 3b) etc. found on plant labels.  But what do these numbers really mean? How did they come about? And are they really relevant for native plant gardeners?  The earliest PHZs were delineated in the 1920s by the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. In the 1960s, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) devised their own set […]
  • Can I have continuous bloom in my native plant garden? Part 2
    In my previous article, I discussed continuous blooms for the shady garden as a response to someone’s query, so in this piece I will look at plants for the “average” garden – moist to dry soils, full sun to part shade. (Unless noted otherwise, all images are from my southwestern Ontario garden.) Part 2 – The Less Shady Yard When I started growing native plants in my garden, I was disappointed that for much of the early part of the growing season there wasn’t much […]
  • Can I Have Continuous Bloom in My Native Garden? Part 1
    Part 1 – The Shade Garden. In northeastern North America (where I live), Mother Nature likes to constantly change things up. Few of our native plants stay flowering for more than a month or two, and some for only a few weeks. But, in nature, bees and other insects cannot survive for long periods without flowers, so there ARE plants blooming from early spring right through till snow covers them. Unfortunately, the bees (and we) need to search them out. In the spring, our earliest […]