Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Leading entomologist Marla Spivak: ‘We can have both pesticides and pollinators’

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the title of this article that appeared in MINNPOST this month. I follow the bee/pollinator stories very closely and have been impressed by Dr Spivak’s work. She is a MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight Professor in Entomology at the University of Minnesota. “To grasp our bees' plight and prospects, stay focused on food.” She goes on to say that if bees have proper nutrition they’re actually able to detoxify pesticides, their immune systems are bolstered and they can fight off diseases. That makes sense. The same holds true for humans. This is an important article, written in plain speech that gives a holistic view of the challenges facing bees and beekeepers. Read more

Dr Spivak is also the Director of the Bee Lab at the University of Minnesota. Click here for more information.

The University of Minnesota has maintained an internationally recognized research, teaching, and outreach program on honey bees since 1918. Minnesota together with Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota is the top honey-producing region in the US.

Bringing Life to Your garden!
Have fun out there,

Peggy Anne

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We’re Giving Away a $7,500 Wildlife Waystation!

We are so excited to be working with 2 of Better Homes & Gardens’ best magazines Easy Garden Projects and Country Gardens Magazine to give away a $7,500 Wildlife Waystation! The winner will receive $7,500 worth of native plants plus a garden design and consultation with famed author and garden designer, Scott Calhoun of Zona Gardens, all compliments of American Beauties Native Plants.

Wildlife habitat is diminishing at an alarming rate. That means that your backyard is more important than ever to the wildlife we hold so dear. Here’s how you can create a wildlife friendly yard.

Providing Food for Wildlife
Planting native trees, shrubs and perennials will provide wildlife with their natural diet that includes; nectar, pollen, seeds, nuts and berries. Adding birdfeeders is a great way to provide supplemental nutrition.

Provide a Clean Source of Water
Just like us, wildlife needs a fresh water source to drink and to bathe in. Try to incorporate ponds, rain gardens, birdbaths and puddling areas for butterflies. Water will bring so much life to your garden!

Provide Cover and a Place to Raise their Young 
Evergreen trees provide shelter all year. Leave brush and leaf piles in a quite corner of your garden. Meadows, shrub borders, even dead trees provide cover and nesting. You can also supplement with birdhouses, bee houses, bat houses, toad houses and more.

Avoiding pesticides and herbicides is an essential part of creating wildlife waystation.

Look for the contest rules and entry in the May issue of Easy Garden Projects and the summer and fall issues of Country Gardens magazine. You may also write in to enter. Tell us in 250 words or less why you want to turn your yard into a Wildlife Waystation. Please be sure to include a photograph of your space as well as your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. 
Send entries to:
Country Gardens & American Beauties Native Plants  
Native Plants Sweepstakes
1716 Locust Street, LN-422
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Bringing Life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there,

Peggy Anne

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is Gardening a Foreign Language to You?

I studied horticulture in the Netherlands so, when I moved back to the states I realized I didn’t know how to speak gardening in English! There is a huge, very specific vocabulary we use to describe plants, soil, maintenance etc. Lucky for me botanical Latin is the same everywhere. I just happen to speak it with a Dutch accent, much to the comic relief of all my friends.

Help is on it’s way! Horticulture powerhouses Maria Zampini and Pamela Bennett have just published Garden-pedia; An A- Z Guide to Gardening Terms. Thanks to this new book, people like my brother-in-law Ken can join the conversation instead of glazing over when we start to talk about gardening. Finally, a clear, concise book with over 200 useful terms for the layman gardener. I think it would also be an excellent guide for summer staff at garden centers and, would benefit Master Gardeners and horticulture students as well. What better gift is there for that special gardener in your life? Mother's Day isn’t too far off… 

Where was this book when I needed it !?

Visit Maria’s website to purchase a single copy or to place a wholesale order. A portion of the proceeds goes to The Ohio University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program.

Win a Free Copy!
Tell us why you need this book for a chance to win a copy from my friend Maria Zampini. Leave us a message on the American Beauties Native Plants Facebook page or write to me at: We’ll select a winner on March 31st.

Bringing Life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there, Peggy Anne

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Are Our Perceptions of Beauty Changing?

A Day At The Philadelphia Flower Show

Last week I was lucky enough to sneak into the Philadelphia Flower Show before it was open to the public. Philly’s flower show is the oldest and arguably the best in the country. The cold, snowy weather made it that much nicer to be surrounded by flowering plants and the sweet smell of mulch.

The first thing I noticed when I came up the stairs was a giant beehive from Subaru. A small fence in the shape of a honeycomb surrounded their display and the staff were wearing yellow and black jackets. Ok, they didn’t have wings but they were clearly bumblebee wannabes. When I stepped inside I was standing under the beautiful marquee in all its colorful glory, as dramatic and bold as years passed.

Then I started to notice that I wasn’t seeing many perfectly spaced, gaudy annuals in rows. I was seeing something far more natural. Hellebores were nestled into pine needles and fallen branches. The edging of displays were made of logs and sticks. Crocus were blooming in the un-mowed grass. Butterfly scarves were for sale. Beehives and birdhouses were prevalent. Butterfly plant stakes danced above violets and sedge. Old rusted cars became hen houses. Best native plants were called out and a native, Fothergilla was named best bloomer. Someone was even bold enough to show their shrubs, barely leafed out, with ornamental grasses in the snow!

I was moved to see that we are moving closer to nature, that we’re beginning to accept the imperfect as beautiful. And, that we’re accepting native plants not because we think have to but because they bring life to our gardens!

Hope your snow melts soon! Peggy Anne

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Washington Wildflowers: The New Standard in Wildflower Smartphone Apps

Mark Turner is one of the finest nature photographers in the country. His images have appeared on the covers and in the pages of Garden Design, Sunset, American Gardener, Horticulture, Organic Gardening, Birds and Blooms as well as in numerous garden books. He also co-authored Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, an American Horticultural Society Book Award winner. Mark also co-authored Trees & Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest with Ellen Kuhlmann. 

When Mark showed me the Washington Wildflowers app I was completely overwhelmed by the stunning quality of the images and the depth of information! University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum provided the cultural information and database. High Country Apps provided the software and of course, Mark supplied the images. Whether you are a novice plant lover or have a Ph.D. in Plant Science this user friendly app has something for you. The Washington Wildflowers app costs just $7.99 and a portion of revenues go back to University of Washington Herbarium to fund conservation and botanical exploration in the region.

It contains 850 (!) common wildflowers, shrubs, and vines that occur in Washington and adjacent areas of British Columbia, Idaho, and Oregon. The majority of species included are native, but introduced species common to the region are covered as well in order to expand the usefulness of this resource. Once downloaded and installed, the app does not need an Internet or cell phone connection to run so, you can use it no matter how remote your wanderings take you. Mark, an avid outdoorsman himself, now takes the app on hikes instead of his books.

Available through:

Bringing life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there!

Peggy Anne

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Natives? Oh Yeah!

Mother nature continues to delight us with spontaneous seedlings that have desirable qualities and that’s how most “new plants” are discovered. At American Beauties we define natives as straight species and their cultivars, with cultivars being selections of straight species that have not been hybridized with other species. That might sound complicated but these new discoveries are easy to love! 

Aster novae-angliae 'Vibrant Dome' PP19538  
syn. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Vibrant Dome'
 ‘Vibrant Dome’ New England aster will brighten your garden with hot-pink flowers in late summer and early fall. It has a neat, compact, mounded habit and is resistant to powdery mildew. The late summer flowers are an important nectar source for migrating monarchs. It is also the host plant for pearl crescent and checkerspot butterflies and is considered a valuable plant for bees. This sport of A. 'Purple Dome' has the habit of Aster ‘Purple Dome’ and a color similar to 'Alma Potschke'. Introduced by Blooms of Bressingham. 

Chrysogonum virginianum 'Superstar' 
This little gem is a superstar groundcover for bright shade. Golden yellow blossoms flower profusely in mid to late spring and sporadically the rest of the season. This green and gold was selected for it’s vigorous, clump forming habit that doesn’t run excessively. Looks great in woodland and native gardens, beautiful as edging and for shaded borders and rock gardens. Provides nectar for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. 
Carrie Wiles, Marketing Director at North Creek Nurseries, knows this plant well and adds "It's a sure sign that spring is underway, I love the contrast of foliage and flower with green and gold’s. This particular cultivar is very floriferous, and who doesn’t need another carefree native ground cover for the shade garden?"

Leucothoe axillaris 'Squirt'
As the name implies, ‘Squirt’ is more compact than other dwarf species of leucothoe. Its rich mahogany and copper-toned new growth really stands out against the glossy, hunter green leaves. Honeybees love the nectar from the fragrant, white, bell-shaped flowers. The low spreading form provides shelter for birds and other wildlife all year long. This woodland native can be used as an understory shrub, in the border or on slopes along creek beds and ponds and looks great planted with Azaleas and Rhododendrons. This plant comes to us from UpShoot and was a chance seedling found by Patty Zampini in Perry, OH.

Panicum virgatum 'Cape Breeze' PP24895 
'Cape Breeze' was selected for it’s strong, upright habit and compact size. The airy, amber seed heads are produced earlier than other switchgrasses so you can enjoy them swaying in the breeze all season. And, they stay green until Halloween! Birds absolutely love the seed and the stems provide them with cover and nesting material. It is also a host plant for a wide variety of butterflies. The plumes are wonderful in fresh or dried flower arrangements. Vigorous but not invasive, 'Cape Breeze' is very drought tolerant once established, and untroubled by pests or diseases. It’s tough as nail but well behaved even in sterile soils and salty conditions. The perfect low maintenance guest for your garden. Introduced by North Creek Nurseries of Landenberg, PA. “Switchgrass is gaining momentum in the trade as homeowners are seeking to replace nonnatives such as Pennisetum orientale with grasses such as Panicum,” says Wiles. 

Physostegia virginiana 'Pink Manners'
The much-loved obedient plant ‘Miss Manners’ has a new sister. ‘Pink Manners’ is a well-behaved, clump forming perennial that reaches 3’, just a bit bigger than her sister. Soft pink buds open to lavender pink blossoms that bloom from midsummer to autumn attracting countless hummingbirds and butterflies. The strong stems will never need staking and make fantastic cut flowers. It is an adaptable, easy to grow perennial for cottage gardens, wildflower gardens, native and prairie gardens. It will spread but not aggressively so. ‘Pink Manners’ was discovered by famed plantsman, Darrell Probst.

Bringing Life to Your Garden
Have fun out there!
Peggy Anne
Many thanks to North Creek Nurseries and UpShoot for the images!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Join the Crowd!

That was the headline of an article by Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of The National Wildlife Federation and former secretary of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, last week in Delaware Online. After reading it I felt very proud of my adopted state!

President and CEO of The National Wildlife Federation

“Fortunately, the First State is emerging as a leader in creating urban wildlife habitat. More than a thousand Delawareans have certified their property as a Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation in partnership with our State Affiliate the Delaware Nature Society. This is more than twice the national average per capita. This Thursday, the City of Newark became the 78th certified Community Wildlife Habitat in the nation and the second in Delaware after Townsend and the good folks in Slaughter Beach hope to be third.” wrote O’Mara.

When sad news comes out about the quality of our water or declining bee and monarch populations, people often ask, “What can I do about it?” Our answer would be “Become part of NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat family?” American Beauties Native Plants has been a supporter of the National Wildlife Federation since it’s inception. Native plants are an important ingredient in creating wildlife habitat. My garden is certified and having the NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat sign out front has been a great way to get our neighbors interested too.

Fall is here and winter isn’t far away. Wildlife needs you now. Join the crowd and get certified today! Here are the four steps you need to begin and links to read more.

Planting native plants or hanging feeders in safe places are two easy ways to start. Native shrubs and trees provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive.

Wildlife need sources of clean water for drinking, bathing, and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes and rivers or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.

Wildlife need places to hide to feel safe from people, predators, and inclement weather. Native vegetation is a perfect cover for terrestrial wildlife. Shrubs, thickets and brush piles provide great hiding places within their bushy leaves and thorns.

Creating a wildlife habitat is about creating a place for the entire life-cycle of a species to occur, from tadpole to frog, from caterpillar to butterfly.

Bringing Life to Your Garden!
Have fun out there,

Peggy Anne