Friday, February 28, 2014

Don't Take Our Word For It!

GreatPlants ™ for the Great Plains

The GreatPlants program is a joint effort between the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Nursery & Landscape Association. “These selections are not only beautiful, but water-wise, drought-tolerant plants, selected to not only grow, but thrive in the Great Plains climate.” Says Bob Henrickson, Horticulture Program Coordinator from the NSA. So, it’s no surprise that the vast majority of these selections are native plants. This is a great resource for homeowners that will help them become more successful gardeners and to help them create more biodiversity. It’s also a boon for Independent Garden Centers that can use this information to build smart, retail displays filled with what else -  Great Plants!


Gymnocladus dioicus, Kentucky coffeetree

2014—Liriodendron tulipifera, tuliptree
This is a favorite nesting tree for birds and the flowers attract hummingbirds. Larval host for the Eastern tiger swallowtail. 
2013—Quercus ellipsoidalis, Hill’s oak
Pollen and emerging leaves attract a long list of pollinators and birds. Acorns are a major food source for a variety of wildlife.

2011—Carya ovata, shagbark hickory
Birds relish the seeds and catkins and find good nesting. Attracts pollinators that attract birds.

2010—Cladrastis kentukea, American yellowwood
Little is known about floral-faunal relationships for this rare tree. The flowers are probably pollinated by bumblebees and other large long-tongued bees.

2008—Ostrya virginiana, American hophornbeam
The nutlets are eaten by a variety of wildlife, such as bobwhites, pheasant, grouse and songbirds.

2007—Aesculus glabra, Ohio buckeye
Hummingbirds are attracted to the flowers. Many different kinds of wildlife will appreciate the seeds.

2006—Quercus muehlenbergii, chinkapin oak
Oaks attract all kinds of wildlife including; birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Larval host for the gray hairstreak.

2004—Quercus macrocarpa, bur oak
Attracts butterflies and other pollinators. The acorns are eaten by a wide variety of beneficial wildlife.

2002—Gymnocladus dioicus, Kentucky coffeetree
The flowers are cross-pollinated by bumblebees, digger bees, tiger swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds that visit looking for nectar.

2001—Taxodium distichum, baldcypress
Provides cover and nesting for birds and the seeds are fed on by birds and small mammals.

2000—Cornus alternifolia, pagoda dogwood
Attracts butterflies, host plant for spring azure butterfly. Attracts waterfowl and songbirds along with many mammals.

1999—Quercus bicolor, swamp white oak
Attracts songbirds, ground birds, water birds and mammals. Oaks are among the best trees for attracting wildlife.


Abies concolor, concolor fir

2013—Pinus strobiformis, Border Pine
Provides nesting sites for owls, hawks, bald eagles and other raptors.
The seeds are gladly eaten by songbirds and other wildlife.

2012—Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca, Douglasfir
The foliage is consumed by grouse, deer and elk. Birds and mammals eat the seeds. Evergreens provide shelter for animals all year long.

2011—Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis, Canaan fir
Attracts butterflies. Songbirds and squirrels eat the seed. Deer and moose browse the foliage in winter. Provides year-round cover for wildlife.

2007—Abies concolor, concolor fir
Evergreens are an important part of any landscape because they provide year round nesting and shelter for wildlife.


Viburnum prunifolium, blackhaw viburnum

2013—Viburnum trilobum, ‘Redwing’, American cranberrybush viburnum
Flowers provide nectar for butterflies and other pollinators. Berries are a great source of winter food for birds and other wildlife. *This selection has been verified by Dr. Edward R. Hasselkus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, as a true V. trilobum, not a hybrid — unlike many other cultivars in the trade.

2012—Viburnum dentatum var. deamii, Deam’s arrowwwood viburnum
Attracts Eastern bluebird, Northern flicker, gray catbird, and American robin. Attracts butterflies and is the larval host for the spring azure.
*This selection can be difficult to find in the trade.

2010—Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye
Hummingbirds and butterflies flock to these luscious flowers in June and July, a time when few other shrubs are in bloom.

2009—Mahonia repens, creeping mahonia
The fruits are relished by birds and other wildlife. This low-growing evergreen provides great cover for birds and other wildlife.

2008—Euonymus atropurpurea, eastern wahoo
Grows in moist woods and thickets in full sun to light shade where it provides nesting and cover for birds and small mammals.

2007—Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Regent’, Regent serviceberry
Berries provide food for mammals and birds, and the dense growth provides shelter. Attracts orange tip and elfin butterflies.
* Open pollinated seeding found near Regent ND introduced in 1977, species uncertain.

2004—Ribes odoratum, clove currant
Dr. Michael Dirr calls it “a rare gem in the shrub world.” The clear yellow flowers fill the air with the fragrance of clove each spring.

2003—Viburnum prunifolium, blackhaw viburnum
Flowers provide nectar for butterflies and other pollinators. Berries are a great source of food for birds and other wildlife in autum.

2002—Hypericum kalmianum, Kalm St. Johnswort
Great source of nectar for bumblebees and other pollinators. Showy yellow flowers bloom for 6 weeks in summer.

2001—Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea
Attracts birds and butterflies and it’s large foliage offers cover and nesting sites. Flowers are great dried or cut fresh.

1998—Aronia melanocarpa, black chokeberry
Spring flowers are a great source of nectar for pollinators. Black berries persist and are devoured by birds.


Rudbeckia fulgida var. speciosa

2014—Rudbeckia fulgida var. speciosa, showy black-eyed Susan
Provides 3 months of nectar for butterflies and bees. Birds love the seeds from dried blooms so don’t cut them back right away.

2013—Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’, Queen of the prairie
This is a selection of a North American native. The airy flowers provide pollen as a reward for visiting insects, but no nectar.

2012—Chelone lyonii, turtlehead
Nectar source for butterflies and other pollinators. Hummingbirds enjoy the nectar as well.

2011—Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox
Excellent source of early nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds. Tiger swallowtail butterflies find the flowers especially attractive.

2010—Eupatorium maculatum ‘Gateway’, Gateway Joe-Pye
This is a selection of a North American native. The nectar attracts honey bees, bumblebees, butterflies, skippers, and moths.

2009—Amsonia hubrichtii, narrowleaf bluestar
Blue flowers attract butterflies and the stunning golden fall color will attract you. Great addition to a sunny border.

2008—Geum triflorum, prairie smoke
Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Don’t cut the spent flowers back because the seed attracts songbirds.

2007—Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, Fireworks goldenrod
Migrating butterflies use the nectar to fuel their fall migration. Seeds are relished by finches, juncos, sparrows and ruffed grouse.
* This 1993 introduction from Ken Moore of the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill was originally selected from a NC coastal plain population of S. rugosa – Plant Delights Nursery

2006—Pulsatilla species, pasque flower
The flower blooms early in spring which leads to the common name Pasque flower, since Pasque refers to Easter or Passover.

2005—Baptisia minor, dwarf blue indigo
This is a host plant for a variety of butterflies. Provides cover for wildlife and ground feeding birds.

2003—Echinacea species, coneflower
Attracts butterflies in large numbers. Finches dine on its seed in the fall. Hummingbirds are attracted to the nectar as well.

2001—Penstemon species, beardtongue
Flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators, especially bumblebees. Songbirds feed on seed.

2000—Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly milkweed
One of the very best plants to attract butterflies. Essential to the lifecycle of the monarch butterfly. Bright flowers attract hummingbirds too.

1999—Amorpha canescens, leadplan
Its long bloom time and attractiveness to butterflies make leadplant a great native substitute for butterfly bush (Buddleia).


Sorghastrum nutans, Indiangrass

2014—Carex grayi, Gray’s sedge
The seeds and seedheads of sedges are an important food sources for various waterfowl, rails, upland gamebirds and some songbirds.

2013—Schizachyrium scoparium ‘MinnBlue’, ‘Blue Heaven’ little bluestem
Attracts butterflies and is a host plant for many skippers. Provides nest sites, cover and food for birds
* This cultivar was discovered and selected in a field of Schizachyrium seedlings by Mary Meyer at the University of Minnesota. 

2012—Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’, northwind switchgrass
An essential larval host for most banded skippers and satyrs. Provides nest sites, protective cover and food for birds.
*This is a naturally occurring selection from Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm in WI. He gathered the seed along railroad tracks in South Elgin, Il. 

2011—Carex muskingumensis, palm sedge
Provides dense cover for essential wildlife. Yellow-edged foliage provides all-season color.

2010—Eragrostis trichodes, sand lovegrass
This grass is crucial to the life of many butterflies. Native songbirds love to eat the seed so, wait to cut it back.

2009—Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, Shenandoah switchgrass
Provides nest sites, cover and food for birds. A small and neat 3' tall ornamental grass.
*This selection of our native Panicum was selected by Germany's Hans Simon.

2008—Bouteloua gracilis, blue grama
Wild turkeys and other gamebirds along with songbirds are known to feed on the seeds.

2005—Bouteloua curtipendula, sideoats grama
This is an important larval host for green and dotted skippers. The seed is relished by songbirds.

2004—Sorghastrum nutans, Indiangrass
Provides nesting, protective cover and food for birds. Easy to grow, even in poor, dry soils.

2003—Sporobolus heterolepis, prairie dropseed

Provides tons of nectar for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Produces abundant seed to feed the birds and other small wildlife in the fall.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winning Natives - Don't Just Take Our Word for It!

The next plant award in our series called “Don’t Take Our Word for it” are Great Plant Picks. It’s is an educational program committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens. To date over 800 exceptional plants have been chosen for gardeners living west of the Cascade Mountains from Oregon to British Columbia. I slipped in one or two from Northern California as well.

In this article, I’ll be highlighting native plant selections and some of their cultivars, whether they are naturally occurring or not. I hope this gives you a broad view and helps remind you that the straight species discussed are all winners. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, Great Plant Picks is a fantastic resource for you.

I’d like to extend special thanks to the Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden for providing a forum for sharing horticultural information with the wider gardening community. Information and images are all courtesy of Great Plant Picks -thank you.

2013 Selection

Iris tenax
This reliable West Coast native iris is floriferous and resilient. Attracts bees and butterflies.

2012 Selections

Trillium albidum

Prosartes smithii syn. Disporum smithii
White, bell-shaped flowers bloom in early summer. In late summer, bright orange-red berries dangle from the tips.

Trillium albidum
This fantastic native trillium sports large while blossoms. Take a moment to enjoy the distinct rose-like fragrance of this woodland beauty.

Vancouveria hexandra
This handsome native will form a natural groundcover. Dainty white flowers are somewhat reminiscent of tiny parachutists falling from the sky.

2011 Selections

Zauschneria septentrionalis

Camassia cusickii
Sky blue, star-shaped flowers bloom in late spring and early summer. This is one of the few bulbs that will happily naturalize in moist soils near ponds and streams.

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Van den Akker’
The species is native. This is a strongly weeping form that is stays quite slender, just a foot or two wide. Useful in smaller gardens.  

Dicentra formosa ‘Bacchanal’
The species is native. This bleeding heart is a reliable performer and is valued for its compact habit and long season of bloom.

Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf's Pyramid’
The species is native. Soft, very blue evergreen needles have a distinctive twisting habit. Makes a fine vertical accent or specimen tree.

Zauschneria septentrionalis ‘Select Mattole’
The species is native. The frosted silver leaves are a spectacular contrast to the bright orange tubular flowers that bloom from mid-summer to mid-fall.

2009 Selections

Dichelostemma congestum

Campanula rotundifolia
A charming native bellflower that is much tougher than its delicate looks suggest. Prune hard after the first flush of flowers to encourage a second round of blooms.

Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’
The species is native. This cultivar has bright yellow foliage. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, including heavy clay, as long as the drainage is good.

Dichelostemma congestum
This unusual bulb prefers well-drained soil with full sun, but will tolerate clay. The long lasting, lilac-purple flowers are great for flower arrangements. 

Dichelostemma ida-maia ‘Pink Diamond’
The species is native. A favorite of gardeners for its unusual and eye-catching firecracker-like blooms. Attracts hummingbirds.

Mahonia repens
The tightly bunched, bright yellow flowers are a sure sign that spring is on it’s way. An excellent choice for a tough, low groundcover.

Spiraea betulifolia ‘Tor’
The species is native. In late spring and early summer the petite shrub is covered with white blossoms. Easy to grow, has an attractive compact habit and great fall color.

Triteleia ixioides ‘Starlight’
The species is native. This West Coast native bulb blooms in late spring to early summer with striking two-inch long, pale-yellow, star shaped flowers.

Triteleia laxa ‘Queen Fabiola’
The species is native. It is a great addition for sunny spots that do not get watered in the summer or plant in masses through low ground cover to add a little seasonal color.

2008 Selections

Darmera peltata

Campanula lactiflora
This tall bellflower is a classic, cottage garden perennial. Along with the species, two cultivars: ‘Loddon Anna’ and ‘Prichard's Variety’ were also winners that year.

Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’
The species is native. This is a classic red-twig dogwood with brilliant red winter stems which are particularly showy against the grey skies of winter.

Darmera peltata
The umbrella plant is a big plant that needs a substantial space. Its bold foliage definitely attracts attention. Perfect for moist locations.

Darmera peltata ‘Nana’
The species is native. This is a dwarf form of the species and is much better suited to smaller urban landscapes. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Gymnocarpium disjunctum syn. Gymnocarpium dryopteris
Give oak fern ample space to spread and weave itself through taller plants or use as a groundcover under rhododendrons.

Oxalis oregana (evergreen form)
Redwood sorrel is a terrific, evergreen groundcover for shady sites. The tiny, star-shaped flowers, bloom sporadically in shades of pink to white, all season long.

Ribes sanguineum
The early spring flowers have a spicy fragrance and are a favorite of over-wintering hummingbirds. The cultivar ‘Pulborough Scarlet’ was chosen as a winner the same year.

2007 Selections

Quercus garryana

Athyrium filix-femina Frizelliae’
The species is native.  This cultivar waschosen for it’s unique spring and summer foliage that has a distinctive beaded look.

Quercus garryana
Only about 5 percent of the true native Garry oak ecosystem remains in B.C., Washington and Oregon, so thinking of Garry oaks may get you thinking of other native plantings.

Sequoia sempervirens
Excellent garden plant, albeit for the larger garden or park. Also valued for it’s size, soft-green needles and its thick, (fire-resistant!), red-brown bark.

2006 Selections

Asplenium trichomanes

Asarum caudatum
Grows as an understory plant in our forests, so it is accustomed to dry, shady locations. This is one of the few wild gingers that have a fair degree of slug resistance.

Asplenium trichomanes
This small, fragile-looking native fern is incredibly tough once established. Easy to grow in dry shade.

Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’
The species is native. This cultivar is a vigorous climber that bears deeply lobed, bright greenish-yellow leaves. The “hops” are quite pretty in fall floral arrangements.

Pinus contorta var. contorta
It is one of the few conifers that tolerates wet places as long as water is not standing all year long. It is also tolerant of salt spray and is drought once established.

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’
The species is a remarkably tough tree, growing vigorously in poor soil and in polluted urban conditions. This cultivar has brilliant lemon-yellow leaves that are a beacon in the spring.

Trillium chloropetalum
Few plants can rival the beauty of a giant trillium. Be sure to smell the blooms and enjoy the unexpected rosy fragrance.

Trillium ovatum
You may have seen this native wildflower when hiking in our Pacific Northwest forests. Beautiful planted with other spring wildflowers.

2005 Selections

Camassia quamash

Abies grandis
This native conifer is considered the standard for a beautiful Christmas tree shape. When crushed, grand fir needles emit a characteristic northwest woodland fragrance of citrus and pine.

Camassia quamash
This easy to grow native bulb produces showy spikes of violet-blue flowers in May. They are brilliant when planted en masse.

Polystichum munitum
It is effective as a specimen and equally beautiful massed as a tall groundcover. Even in dry shade under the dense growth of Douglas firs.

Vaccinium ovatum
Petite white flowers bloom in spring giving way to succulent blue-black berries by late summer. These make delicious jams or jellies.

2004 Selections

Blechnum spicant

Acer circinatum ‘Monroe’
This species is native. It was discovered in Oregon by Portland resident Warner Monroe, brought into cultivation in 1965, and named by Brian Mulligan, former director of Washington Park Arboretum.

Adiantum aleuticum
The Western maidenhair is one of the most graceful and beautiful of our native ferns and adds a soft texture to shady gardens.

Blechnum spicant
Blechnum spicant is a charming native fern that is one of the best textural plants for the woodland garden. An evergreen fern with three-season appeal.

2003 Selections

Mahonia nervosa

Calocedrus decurrens
The dark green foliage is soft to the touch and has a wonderful cedar-like fragrance that permeates the air in warm weather. It makes an excellent vertical accent or a backdrop in the landscape.

Mahonia nervosa
Forms a loose groundcover with lustrous emerald leaves. Panicles of yellow flowers bloom in May and waxy blue berries appear in autumn. It is adaptable to difficult growing situations.

Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Glaucum’
The species is native. This blue-needled selection that great color and is very effective as a focal point. Stands out beautifully against dark green conifers.

Sequoiadendron giganteum ‘Pendulum’
The species is native. The branches on this selection are tightly pendulous and conform to the trunk. When space allows it is best planted in small groups of five or seven.

2002 Selections

Acer circinatum

Acer circinatum
Vine maple is very closely related to Japanese maples and has the same versatility in the small garden or woodland, but with a more relaxed feel.

Symphyotrichum lateriflorum ‘Prince’ syn. Aster lateriflorus ‘Prince’
The species is native to British Columbia. In late summer to early fall a profusion of starry white flowers, blushed with pink and purple cover the plant.

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’
The species is native. A strong upright trunk with sweeping arched branches, hang like curtains of dark green foliage. Once established, it is drought tolerant and easy to grow.

Ribes sanguineum
Ribes sanguineum is a tough, durable and beautiful native shrub. Two cultivars were chosen in 2002. The first is ‘Kind Edward the VII’ selected for it’s deep pinkish red flowers. The second selection was ‘White Icicle’, selected for it’s white blooms.

Tsuga mertensiana
It develops into a slender small tree with gracefully layered side branches. It is excellent for creating an alpine look in the landscape.