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.

 

Park(ing) Day 2011

Park(ing) Day is coming to Roland Park, in Baltimore,  on Friday, September 16th! Roland Park Native, Blue Water Baltimore, Belair Road Supply, and Green Fields Nursery are collaborating to temporarily transform three metered parking spaces at 5201 Roland Avenue into a prototype for a landscaped and pedestrian-friendly space.

What is Park(ing) Day, you ask? I’ll let the folks at Park(ing) Day 2011 tell you:

PARK(ing) Day is an annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!

For us, it is a chance to explore the ways in which this particular piece of streetscape could be, well, more!  What if families walking to and from school had more room to walk?  What if  the parking spaces were replaced with a bioretention area filled with native plants that could filter polluted runoff on Roland Avenue before it is dumped into Stony Run?

Unlike many other Park(ing) Day events in Baltimore,  our organizers are not landscape architects or design students. Our goal is for everyone who stops by to think “Cool idea, but I could do better than that”.  And then, on the 3rd Friday in September of 2012, actually do it better.  Because THAT would be cool.

And, if you’d like to help set up or take down the park, send an email to info@RolandParkNative.org. We’d love a few more hands!

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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