Native Plants in Your Garden? Meet Gary Smith!

A few months ago I attended the 2012 Native Plants in the Landscape conference, and one of the highlights was meeting Gary Smith. Gary is the award-winning designer of Peirce’s Woods at Longwood Gardens, which is a stunning example of just how beautiful a landscape filled with native plants can look.

From Gary's design at Longwood Gardens: A blend of Allegheny foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) and blue woodland phlox (Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’) flows among the trunks of mature sweet birch (Betula lenta).

Well, on September 13th Gary will be in Baltimore as part of the Horticultural Society of Maryland lecture series! Gary’s presentation is entitled “From Art to Landscape:  Unleashing Creativity in Garden Design, and will cover some highlights from his book of the same name (which I also strongly recommend).  The focus is really on techniques for increasing your creativity, but with plenty of examples using phenomenal native plant combinations (many arising from Gary’s collaborations with Rick Darke, who recently spoke at the Irvine Nature Center).

Free to Society members, $10 otherwise, and held at Cylburn Arboretum Association‘s Vollmer Center! The lecture starts at 7:30pm, and there is a plant sale and seed swap before the presentation!

I can’t recommend Gary enough.  The lecture will be great, and even if you can’t attend I urge you to look for his book.

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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