A Native Plant Flower Show!

Kay McConnell sold me my very first native plant, a black chokeberry, shortly after I moved to Baltimore a few years ago so I suppose I should not be surprised to learn that she is co-chairing a native plant flower show! Seriously.

“Going Native: Food, Water, Shelter, Life” is a Garden Club of America Flower Show complete with everything that goes into a typical flower show: flower arrangements, horticultural prizes, photographs, judges, rules, and so forth. But, you know, with native plants!

From the rules for Division 1 (Flower Arrangement classes):

“Designers in all classes are required to include at least one native plant in their arrangement(s) and to note the plant(s) on their entry card.”

Cool, huh?

The flower show will be open the public on October 18th and 19th and is sponsored by the Guilford Garden Club, with support from Friends School of Baltimore which is also hosting the event.. Native plant aficionados from the area will know that the garden club has been working with Friends School for several years to design and install absolutely beautiful native plant gardens around the campus.  From the introduction to the Flower Show schedule:

“In partnership since 2005, Friends School of Baltimore and the Guilford Garden Club (GGC) have created a series of Native Plant Teaching Gardens throughout the campus. Conservation and education are at the heart of the project. The gardens employ Chesapeake Bay Watershed native plants that thrive with minimal care to attract pollinators and other wildlife and to absorb surface water on the school’s sloping campus.”

Friends School students enjoying a landscape filled with native grasses, trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Kay will be conducting tours of the gardens, which I STRONGLY recommend, at 2pm on the 18th and at 10am on the 19th. And, weather permitting, the Guilford Garden Club will be conducting a small native plant sale as well.

Click here for a one page PDF with dates, times, and the address.  Click here for the full schedule, with descriptions of the exhibit rules and whatnot.

Native Plants for Baltimore

Curious about using native plants in your Baltimore landscape?

On Monday, September 26th, I’m presenting at Roland Park Country School on that very topic as part of their “Kaleidoscope” adult education series.

The title of the presentation is “NATIVE PLANTS FOR ROLAND PARK LANDSCAPES” but the information will be just as useful to residential gardeners around the area as to those in Roland Park specifically.

Anise-scented goldenrod blooming in Roland Park.

I will discuss the use of native plants by the Olmsted Brothers and other turn-of-the-century designers, with a focus on identifying plants that can be used by modern Baltimore residents to beautify their landscape and benefit the ecological health of the neighborhood.  The presentation will cover a variety of topics, from wildlife value to aesthetics, so that everyone should be able to take away something from the evening.

There will also be handouts that will guide homeowners on ideas for plants as well as local sources for them.  Many residents want to have a healthier yard, but are overwhelmed with the choices available to them.  One of my main goals is to make the process easier, so that people realize that they can have gardens that look beautiful and also support plenty of wildlife.  Having a home surrounded not only by lovely plants but also butterflies, birds, fireflies, and the like is something that most people can agree is a rewarding goal.

There is a $15 fee for this presentation, and you can register by mail or by phoning (410) 323-5500 x 3045.  It’s not too late to register and there were still some spaces available the last time I checked.

For the full run-down of Kaleidoscope courses you can download a PDF version of the Fall 2011 Catalog by clicking here.

 

Olmsted-approved Native Shrubs

Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburum), rights reserved by milesizz

I’ve written before about “Olmsted-friendly” plants, which is the term I use to refer to plants known to have been in the palette of the Olmsted Brothers design firm at the time  it was working on Roland Park.

The awesome Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog, to which I regularly contribute, recently ran a slightly longer piece I wrote about some of the shrubs (including the beautiful but under-used maple-leaf viburnum pictured on the right) used by the Olmsted Brothers in a 1901 landscape design for the corner of Roland Avenue and Ridgewood Road.

Click here to read the whole article.

Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw viburnum)

Continuing the trend of highlighting some of the great native plants which appear in a 1913 Olmsted Brothers planting plan. for Roland Park, I want to turn particular attention to Viburnum prunifolium, or blackhaw viburnum.

Viburnum prunifolium, rights reserved by jsutcℓiffe

This is a tall, upright and somewhat slender shrub or small tree. It can reach heights of 10’ to 12’ and a spread of 6’ to 8’. In Roland Park it is the perfect size to play the lead role in a privacy screen, but it could just as easily be the background for a mixed bed. It does well in sun or part shade.

Viburnum prunifolium has multiple seasons of interest. The spring blossoms are attractively creamy, the fruit is an attractive bluish-purple, and the fall foliage is a stunningly gorgeous crimson red.

This is a great shrub to add to your landscape if you like having birds, butterflies, and other pollinators around. The birds love the fruit, it is a larval host for many butterflies, and our native bees relish its flowers.

Viburnum prunifolium is very much underused, especially relative to the more common native Viburnum dentatum (e.g. Blue Muffin viburnum) and the non-native Asian viburnums. Being so beautiful and so easy to grow, it deserves a spot on your yard.

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