PERENNIAL: Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic)

Echinacea purpurea with a duskywing.

Echinacea purpurea with a duskywing. Photographs © Mary Free from Creating Inviting Habitats – Publications and Educational Resources

Purple Coneflower has a rich history of medicinal use that has resulted in its over harvesting and decline in its natural habitat, centered in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. The few established populations in Virginia and Pennsylvania appear to be escapes from cultivation. So many beneficial insects (and goldfinches) flock to it though, one thinks of Echinacea as native. In any case, its attributes make it a “must-have” for a sunny garden.

Learn more and check out Mary Free’s wonderful video of how Echinacea transitions from summer to autumn to winter in the demonstration gardens.. . .

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Gift Books for Gardeners

Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers Book CoverBy Susan Wilhelm, Certified Master Gardener

For many gardeners, reading about gardening is the next best thing to working in their garden or tending their containers. Below, in no particular order, are sources to consider if you are looking for a book for your favorite gardener this holiday season.

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FERN: Dennstaedtia punctilobula (Hay Scented Fern)

Spiderwort and Hay-scented Ferns in the Shade Garden Photo © 2014 Mary Free

Spiderwort and Hay-scented Ferns in the Shade Garden
Photo © 2014 Mary Free

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native of open woods and dry slopes is found throughout most of the Mid-Atlantic Region. In Virginia, it is abundant in higher elevations to infrequent in the Coastal Plain. It can spread quickly to create a ground cover in shady woodland gardens. Crush some leaflets and its common name becomes apparent from the hay-like scent that emanates.

More information . . .

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GROUND COVER: Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’ (Fragrant Sumac)

Fall leaves of Rhus aromatica (‘Gro-Low,’ Fragrant Sumac).

Fall leaves of Rhus aromatica (‘Gro-Low,’ Fragrant Sumac).

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This vigorous, ground-hugging shrub makes an excellent ground cover, suckering and filling in areas quickly. Its glossy foliage turns brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and purples in fall. At first glance, it may look like poison ivy (Rhus radicans), but Fragrant Sumac is not poisonous. It occurs more commonly in the mountains of the Mid-Atlantic Region than in the Piedmont.

More information . . .

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Regional Gardens: Norfolk Botanical Garden, Part II

By Elaine Mills, Certified Extension Master Gardener
Photos by Elaine Mills, Bob Kline & Alyssa Ford Morel

Colorful plants in the Hummingbird Garden. Photo © Elaine Mills.

Colorful plants in the Hummingbird Garden.
Photo © 2018 Elaine Mills.

Part II of our profile of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Continue reading

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FERN: Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) en masse, in spring. Photo © 2016 Elaine Mills.

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich Fern) en masse, in spring.
Photo © 2016 Elaine Mills.

Native mostly in the northern half of the Mid-Atlantic Region, Ostrich Fern is indigenous in only three places in Virginia, including along the Potomac River in Arlington and Fairfax counties. It requires a large landscape to show off to full advantage its long, finely dissected fronds, suggestive of ostrich plumes.

Learn more . . .

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