This month on Garden Designer’s Roundtable, the topic has been chosen by you, faithful readers, ‘Underused Plants’. So today I present the woodland native, an underused plant.
When I was young, the woods surrounding our house fascinated me. There was joy and wonder to be found everywhere. There were forts to be made, streams to be dammed, and a myriad of trails to explore. To this day, I still love being in the woods, although it is not very often I visit. From those days to these, one thing has kept my attention, the wonderful woodland plants found trail and streamside. Back in the day I had no idea whether I was looking at a native to the area, or an exotic invader, soon to render a helpless sapling lifeless. But back then, very few of us did. Today information abounds on the native species inhabiting our woodland, or at least those that are left. It does seem that as time moves forward, not only does native habitat disappear, but so does the beautiful native flora. Here are but a few of the local stars still to be found in the northeast.
Here in Connecticut, despite being a heavily populated area, we are blessed with many open spaces. And any native plant discussion should start with our state flower, Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia). The woods surrounding our house are full of Mountain Laurel, and although they are fickle about blooming every year, when they do, it is a site to behold. This was such a year!
At the edge of our yard we are lucky to have the wonderful little Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), so named for a leaf coloration resembling the side of a brook trout, and the fact that it blooms around the opening of Trout Season each spring.
Walking Connecticut’s woods would also reveal Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) or the edible Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola virginiana).
**Note: the following photos courtesy The Connecticut Botanical Society, credits on each photo. Please visit their wonderful site!**
These are but a few of our many native woodland fauna, and while these plants are not suitable for every garden, within nearly every garden lays a small shaded corner in which to include one of our native beauties. So when planning your next garden or garden renovation, I hope you find the time and space to add a little native beauty. The youngster within you will be glad.
Now, please follow the links below and find out what plants my fellow Roundtable designers find Underused!
Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA »
Carolyn Gail Choi : Sweet Home and Garden Chicago : Chicago, IL »
Christina Salwitz : Personal Garden Coach : Renton, WA »
Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT
Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN »
Genevieve Schmidt : North Coast Gardening : Arcata, CA »
Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO »
Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK »
Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX »
Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA »
Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT »
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ »
Tara Dillard : Vanishing Threshold: Garden Life Home : Atlanta, GA »