New Garden, Old Species!
As we see out the last of these horrid winter storms (hopefully!) and open our doors to our gardens in 2018 (ever so slightly) we can turn our attention to sunnier days ahead. It might be chilly outside now but the growing season will soon be upon us. Even though the weather outside is still a little frightful, don’t let it send your enthusiasm for the great outdoors into hibernation!
In this years Healit™ Garden blog we are going to take you on a horticultural journey and show you how to become the green-fingered grower you have always wanted to be. Whether your outdoor space is the size of a football field or a small but much-loved balcony, there is no excuse not to give growing a try!
So as we dive headlong into the new growing year, we’ll help you plan and explore what you can produce using the wonderful world of plants. Let’s start at the beginning. Take a look at some of the very special characteristics of our own ‘native’ species that you may want to consider planting in your plots this year.
Our Native Species:
The contrasting climate zones and growing conditions found in the USA produce one of the most diverse assortment of native plant species in the world. Over 18,000 varieties to be accurate!
Native to the USA means that these plants grew in their locations long before the Europeans arrived. They have evolved and adapted to their natural local conditions and are really important to the local ecosystems.
Cultivating natives can bring significant benefits to your garden. They are often more resistant to disease, attract butterflies, bees, and other insects, require less maintenance and save on water too. All good news for the environment and your garden.
The most widely recognized native species are the Flowering Dogwood, Redbud, Mountain Laurel, Bald Cypress, Southern Magnolia, and Black Locust and many of these natives have also given birth to a wide variety of native cultivars called “Nativars”. Nativars are popular because they combine the best qualities of the native species. They have been bred to improve the color, the flower size and in the case of some fruits, the yield.
Native Flora Facts:
Did you know that the flowering dogwood (cornus Florida) native to North Eastern America, produces a fruit that is a particularly important food source for birds as well as supporting moths and butterflies?
Did you know that the native oaks of the North East host hundreds of caterpillar species and the acorns are a source of food for all sorts of fauna?
Know your Back Yard:
As with any growing, however, it is incredibly important when planting natives to consider your location and plant according to your specific soils, climate etc. But how do you find this information?
Well, the bible for pretty much anyone considering planting in the US should be the somewhat un-inspiringly titled USDA Hardiness Zone Map which divides the USA into 11 separate planting zones. Using your zone you will be more successful in choosing plants that will thrive in your local environment. It is not definitive and should be used as a guide but your local plant center will be a wealth of local knowledge and advice in helping you pick the best species for your environment.
If you consider Massachusetts, for example, there are a total of 5 zone codes, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b and hundreds of different native varieties. Taking the time to plan your planting now to provide color Spring, Summer, Fall and even Winter is a must and goes what, we are here to help you do that!
Over the course of this year, we will champion native plants even more as we give you the tools you need to have a successful growing season and help you make the most of your garden.