Underutilized Native Shrubs With Big Ecological Impact

Shopping for shrubs can be a dull experience when so many garden centers, nurseries and big box stores sell the same lackluster choices.  Does the world need another forsythia, another boxwood, another sterile hydrangea?  Go beyond the ecologically-mediocre and seek out great native shrubs that contribute big ecological impact to your landscape. Here are a few worthy choices for your…

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Fall Tip: Boosting the Health of Trees and Shrubs

Some of our most important native plants are “woodies” (trees and shrubs). Woodies provide critical structure and ecological function to most landscapes – some are early pollen sources for hungry bees, some are nesting sites for songbirds, and some, primarily evergreens, provide cover to many creatures during harsh winters. Your trees and shrubs are valuable to you and your ecosystem…

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Planting in the Dog Days of Summer

The hot and humid days of summer are certainly not ideal for planting, but you can plant in summer with some special care and vigilance. Maybe you just found a fantastic plant you have been looking for, or, perhaps you didn’t get around to planting some native perennials or shrubs you bought in the spring.  Keeping plants in containers over…

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“Looking for Mr. Goodbar” – The Quest to Find Male Native Plants

While searching for native plants for clients this season, I have once again encountered the annoying challenge of trying to find male pollinators for female plants when plants are dioecious (male and female plants). Conventional nurseries and native nurseries alike often fail to deliver the goods. It’s a serious problem for those of us who want to plant for wildlife,…

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My Brugmansia: A Native Plant Geek Goes AWOL

It started innocently enough. While volunteering at a plant sale held by Lasdon Park, a local arboretum, I spotted a dozen or so lanky, young Brugmansias for sale. The plant-loving staff, had scored these tropical wonders, offering them for sale amid a treasure trove of native and ornamental trees and shrubs. But the Brugmansias stood out, calling like a siren to…

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Plant-Smart & Water-Wise: The Art of Sustainable Watering

During the hot, dry days of summer you may feel the urge to pull out the garden hose and water everything in sight.  Perhaps you have an in-ground sprinkler system that does the job for you, often running on a timer, watering whether irrigation is needed or not.  According to the EPA, one-third of all residential water is used to…

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Where Are the Bees, Butterflies and Other Insects? Facts & Tips

From individual observations to published research, the situation seems clear – insect populations are declining across the globe. It’s a crisis that gets little play in the media, surpassed daily by “news” of unhinged political tweets or the latest Kardashian romance. Anecdotal evidence is abundant – recent posts on NABA Chat (North American Butterfly Association) from across the country report a…

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5 Ecological Landscape Resolutions Worth Making

Anise Hysop and pollinators

Losing weight and curbing bad habits don’t have to be the only resolutions you make for the New Year. How about adopting some resolutions that will have a positive impact on the environment around you?  Here are 5 ecological landscape resolutions worth making: Resolution#1: Become a Climate Change Steward – Plant More Trees The efforts of nations are critical to…

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Native Plant Research at the Mt. Cuba Center with George Coombs

Great garden plant or garden slacker?  This is a question that the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware has sought to answer, giving gardeners and green industry professionals a helping hand in selecting native plants.  Since 2002, Mt. Cuba, has conducted native plant research in their trial gardens, examining native species, native cultivars/selections (“nativars”) and hybrids to evaluate which plants…

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