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Using Native Plants in Your Landscapes


Created by: LineTime

 

There are many good reasons why we should consider using Native Plants in our landscape design.  Deer normally don’t bother them, they use less water and will grow with less maintenance.  Sometimes deer tend to nibble on new tender leaves, but then leave them alone.  They also provide habitat for many birds and butterflies.

 Still, you need to determine your soil, sun and water conditions and take note of what is currently growing in the area surrounding the garden.  As Master Gardeners, quite a bit of research has been done to help those who wish to incorporate the native plants in the garden.  The Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society has a native plant sale each April.  Marianne Kooiman, here on Guemes is very active in the program.

 Here is a note from Marianne explaining a few of the details of the program, as well as an opportunity to volunteer within the Native Plant Society.

 

The Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society is dedicated to the preservation of the local native flora and to encouraging people to use natives in their own landscaping.  To that end the Salal Chapter maintains a display garden at the Skagit Display Gardens at the Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center located at 16650 State Route 536 (Memorial Highway), west of Mount Vernon.  In addition to the display garden, we have a nursery in the back where we propagate and grow plants for our annual plant sale, which takes place on the fourth Saturday in the month of April.

 

We schedule regular work parties for the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  We are looking for more volunteers.  Tasks are varied and one can choose what one would like to work on, such as propagation, potting plants and helping maintain the developed areas in the garden.  We invite you to join us for an hour or two at one of our work parties.  It is an easy and fun way to learn about native plants.  No expertise is required—we all learn together.

 

For more information about the native plant garden project or the plant sale, please contact Marianne Kooiman at eyrie@cnw.com or 293-5815

 

Selecting Native Plants

 

Imitate Nearby Natural Settings
The best way to determine which native plants are appropriate for your property is to identify the native plants growing in the surrounding area under similar conditions, including amount of sun, type of soil, amount of moisture in the soil, and types of neighboring plants.

 

Note which native species grow near other native species, because this can be a good indication of which plants can be planted together without one species taking over.  In order to attract a variety of native birds and butterflies, plant as many of the plant species you see growing nearby as possible.  In addition, select and arrange the plants so that they vary in height from taller trees to ground covers, and so that you create a mixture of plant densities (some clumped, some spaced, and some open areas).

 

Starting 

 

1. Evaluate Your Yard
If there aren't many native plants nearby, you can still figure out which natives are appropriate once you determine how much moisture and sunlight the planting area gets, and how well the soil holds moisture.

 

Take note of which areas receive full sun throughout the day, which receive sunlight only part of the day, and which areas are in the shade most or all of the day.  Also notice whether the shade is complete, or if patches of sunlight filter through.  You may find it helpful to draw a rough map of your yard.

 

To evaluate how moist the soil is and how well it holds moisture, dig a hole in the ground about six inches deep and six inches wide.  Look at and feel the material you remove from the hole to see how moist or dry it is, and whether it has a lot of sand, gravel, organic matter, or clay.  Then fill the hole with water, and watch how fast the water soaks into the ground.  There is no hard-and-fast rule here, but if the soil soaks the water up so fast you can't fill it with water, you have very well-drained soil.  And if the water is still in the hole two hours later, you definitely have poorly-draining soil.  You may want to dig a number of these test holes in different areas to see if soil conditions are the same throughout your yard.

 

Take note of areas that are near streams or other bodies of water.  Also pay attention to whether there are areas of pooling or continual dryness.

 

 

 

2. Use Native Plant Associations to Mimic Nature
Once you have determined the amount of sunlight and moisture and type of soil on your site, you can use the following native plant associations to decide what to plant.  Rather than provide a list of plants from which to haphazardly pick-and-choose, we suggest using these plant associations so you can re-create the mix of natives that normally grow together under natural conditions.

 

Each native plant association is named after the amount of sunlight and soil moisture occurring where that association grows.  To find the association appropriate to your property, look for the sun-moisture combination existing in the area you want to plant.  While not exhaustive, the associations listed cover the most common situations and species found in our region.

 

Each native plant association begins with a description of the setting (sunlight, soil, water) and what the vegetation growing there would look like in the wild.  Although the area you wish to plant probably won't fit the whole description, it should match the amount of sunlight, type of soil, and amount of moisture.  The rest of the description will give you an overall idea of what the area will eventually look like if you plant the suggested species.

 

Most of the descriptions simply refer to "canopy" (the uppermost layer of vegetation), "understory" (smaller trees and shrubs below the canopy), or "ground covers" (herbaceous plants, ferns, and other low-lying plants).  Below the description are lists of plant species included in these categories.

 

Try to plant as many of the natives listed as possible, as this will create diversity that will attract native birds and butterflies and continue looking natural over the years.  Take note of the native plants that grow in the area, and feel free to add these species to your list of plants.

 

Before you go shopping for any of these plants, write down each plant's unique, scientific (latin) name, as many of the plants listed have more than one common name or share their common name with some other plant.

 

If you have an area with evergreen trees that provide consistent year round shade, the following plants should do well.  These plants will also thrive in an area with seasonal shade that deciduous trees furnish during the summer months.  These plants are tolerant of a moist soil due to poor drainage, or proximity to stream or lake.

 

While developing your planting scheme keep in mind that in natural settings with deep shade, understory shrubs are usually sparse.  Shrubs grow near pockets of light or along the brighter edges of a shady area.  In contrast, the groundcover layer grows thickly in deep shade.

 

Native huckleberries prefer a moist soil with plenty of organic matter.  They do not like heavy clay soils.  Avoid using huckleberries if you have clay soils.

 

Canopy

Thuja plicata

western redcedar,

Tsuga heterophylla

western hemlock,


Understory

Acer circinatum

vine maple

Berberis nervosa 
Berberis aquifolium

low Oregon-grape
tall Oregon-grape

Cornus sericea ssp. occidentalis

red-osier dogwood,

Lonicera involucrata var. involucrata

black twinberry,

Polystichum munitum

sword fern

Rubus parviflorus var. parviflorus

thimbleberry,

Rubus spectabilis var. spectabilis

salmonberry

Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens 
var.
 arborescens

(formerly called
 S. racemosa var. arborescens)

red elderberry,

Vaccinium ovatum

evergreen huckleberry,

Vaccinium parvifolium

red huckleberry,


Ground cover

Asarum caudatum

wild-ginger

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum

lady fern

Blechnum spicant

deer fern

Cornus unalaschkensis 

(formerly called
 C. canadensis var. intermedia, but see note under Propagation)

bunchberry,

Dicentra formosa ssp. formosa

Pacific bleeding-heart

Gaultheria shallon

salal

Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora

twinflower

Maianthemum racemosa ssp. amplexicaulis

(formerly called
 Smilacina racemosa var. amplexicaulis)

false Solomon's seal

Polystichum munitum

sword fern

Trillium ovatum ssp. ovatum

western trillium,


PARTIAL SHADE AND WELL-DRAINED SOILS


Description: In a native plant community with partial shade, enough dappled light passes through the tree canopy to support a diverse understory shrub layer. In this plant community, the tree canopy consists primarily of red alder, bitter cherry, bigleaf maple, and occasionally conifers. Usually the soils are well-drained and dry out during the summer months. These soils consist of sand or rocky glacial till common in the Puget Sound region. If this description matches the conditions in your yard, the plants listed below should do well.

 

Canopy

Abies grandis

grand fir,

Acer macrophyllum

bigleaf maple,

Cornus nuttallii

Pacific dogwood,

Prunus emarginata var. mollis

bitter cherry,

Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii

Douglas-fir,

Rhamnus purshiana

cascara,

Thuja plicata

western redcedar,

 

Understory

Acer circinatum

vine maple

Berberis nervosa 
Berberis aquifolium

low Oregon-grape
tall Oregon-grape

Corylus cornuta var. californica

beaked hazelnut,

Gaultheria shallon

salal

Holodiscus discolor

oceanspray,

Oemleria cerasiformis

Indian-plum,

Philadelphus lewisii var. gordonianus

mock-orange,

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Pacific rhododendron,

Ribes sanguineum var. sanguineum

red flowering currant,

Rosa gymnocarpa var. gymnocarpa

baldhip rose,

Vaccinium ovatum

evergreen huckleberry,

Vaccinium parvifolium

red huckleberry,

 

Ground cover

Achlys triphylla ssp. triphylla

deerfoot vanilla-leaf,

Gaultheria shallon

Salal

Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora

Twinflower

Polystichum munitum

sword fern

Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus

common snowberry,

Trillium ovatum ssp. ovatum

western trillium,


SUN AND MOIST SOILS


Description: The plants in the following table thrive on sites near lake, rivers, or wetlands that may experience periodic flooding or a seasonally high water table. Because of their proximity to sources of water, soils are moist to wet many months of the year. If your site has moist to wet soils and does not currently have trees to provide shade, the plants on this list should do well. These plants prefer sunny locations.

 

Canopy

Acer macrophyllum

bigleaf maple,

Alnus rubra

red alder,

Cornus nuttallii

Pacific dogwood,

Crataegus suksdorfii

(formerly called
 Crataegus douglasii var. suksdorfii)

black hawthorn,

Fraxinus latifolia

Oregon ash

Malus fusca

(formerly called
 Pyrus fusca)

Pacific crabapple,

Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa

black cottonwood,

Prunus emarginata var. mollis

bitter cherry,

Thuja plicata

western redcedar,

 

Understory

Acer circinatum

vine maple

Lonicera involucrata var. involucrata

black twinberry,

Physocarpus capitatus

Pacific ninebark,

Rosa nutkana

Nootka rose

Rosa pisocarpa

clustered wild rose,

Rubus parviflorus var. parviflorus

thimbleberry,

Rubus spectabilis var. spectabilis

salmonberry

Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra

Pacific willow,

Salix sitchensis

Sitka willow

Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens 
var.
 arborescens

(formerly called
 S. racemosa var. arborescens)

red elderberry,

Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus

common snowberry,

 

Ground cover

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum

lady fern

Dicentra formosa ssp. formosa

Pacific bleeding-heart

Maianthemum dilatatum

false lily-of-the-valley,

Polystichum munitum

sword fern

Scirpus microcarpus

small-fruited bulrush,

Viola species

violets


SUN AND WELL-DRAINED SOILS


Description: The plants in this community are tolerant of sun but prefer well-drained soils. Soils that are well- drained are often sandy or coarse with various sizes of rocks. A well-drained soil typically dries out during summer months. Plants on the following table can survive summer drought once they have become established.

The following list includes both red huckleberry and evergreen huckleberry. Pacific Northwest native huckleberries prefer a soil enriched with organic matter. Often seen growing in decaying logs and stumps, our native huckleberries benefit from both composted organic matter and partially composted organic matter such as wood chips. Before planting huckleberries always improve the soils with organic matter.

 

Canopy

Abies grandis

grand fir,

Acer macrophyllum

bigleaf maple,

Arbutus menziesii

Pacific madrone,

Cornus nuttallii

Pacific dogwood,

Pinus contorta var. contorta

shore pine,

Prunus emarginata var. mollis

bitter cherry,

Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii

Douglas-fir,

 

Understory

Acer circinatum

vine maple

Amelanchier alnifolia

western serviceberry,

Arctostaphylos columbiana ssp. columbiana

hairy manzanita,

Ceanothus velutinus var. hookeri

snowbrush,

Corylus cornuta var. californica

beaked hazelnut,

Holodiscus discolor

oceanspray,

Lonicera ciliosa

orange honeysuckle,

Oemleria cerasiformis

Indian-plum,

Philadelphus lewisii var. gordonianus

mock-orange,

Ribes sanguineum var. sanguineum

red flowering currant,

Rosa gymnocarpa var. gymnocarpa

baldhip rose,

Sambucus cerulea var. cerulea

blue elderberry

Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus

common snowberry,

Vaccinium ovatum

evergreen huckleberry,

Vaccinium parvifolium

red huckleberry,

 

Ground cover

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ssp. uva-ursi

kinnikinnick,

Gaultheria shallon

salal

Linnaea borealis ssp. longiflora

twinflower

Polystichum munitum

sword fern

 

WSU

For further information go to: Gardening.wsu.edu

WSU Cooperative Extension, Western Washington

 

Source: http://www.linetime.org/pages/4043

 

 



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