native plant sale

All posts tagged native plant sale

By Lori Athey, Habitat Coordinator

The annual Native Plant Sale is coming up April 30-May 3 and our theme this year is Blooms with Impact: Blooms for People and Pollinators. Lots of our pollinators are struggling, just a few examples include:  European Honeybees threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder, and Monarch populations dropping alarmingly. Without pollinators, our food supply would be seriously compromised and many of these same pollinators including bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and others, also help keep pest insects under control.

Pollinators need flowers, so providing continuous bloom from spring through fall is the best way to provide for these insects. We are offering some great plants this year at the Delaware Nature Society’s Native Plant Sale, but to help you find the best plants for your garden, here are the favorite plants of some of our staff:

A number of staff chose the Monardas or Beebalms as their top pick in the garden. Joanne Malgiero, Membership and Annual Giving Coordinator combines Monarda fistulosa with Vernonia and a pink Phlox in her garden and says that not only is the combination beautiful but “there is always something happening in that corner”. Michele Wales, Coverdale Farm Site Manager and beekeeper loves the red Beebalm for the hummingbirds and bumble bees. Sue Bara, Teacher Naturalist and Herbalist, loves the Monardas for their healing qualities. I just think the flowers look cool.

Monarda and Bee Balm will attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Bumblebees and Hummingbird Moths.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Monarda and Bee Balm will attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Bumblebees and Hummingbird Moths. Photo by Lori Athey.

As a beekeeper, Michele Wales also loves the Symphyotrichums or Asters, which provide nectar and pollen to not only her honey bees, but a wide array of other native pollinators as well. CSA Farmer Dan O’Brien echoes her admiration and points out that all of those insects attracted to the Asters also help pollinate the crops that he plants in the CSA garden.

Asters provide a late season source of nectar for many native pollinators.  Photo by Rick Darke.

Asters provide a late season source of nectar for many native pollinators. Photo by Rick Darke.

CSA Farmer Dan and Jim White, Land Management Fellow and Entomologist both sing the praises of the Eutrochiums and Eupatoriums, otherwise known as Joe Pye Weed and Thoroughworts for attracting butterflies, bees and lots of other pollinators. In my garden we call this one “Butterfly Crack” because it is so popular.

Monarchs and other butterflies can't get enough Joe-pye Weed.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Monarchs and other butterflies can’t get enough Joe-pye Weed. Photo by Lori Athey.

Alice Mohrman, Abbotts Mill Education Coordinator, recommends Vaccinium corymbosum or Highbush Blueberry. Almost 300 species of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) caterpillars use this as a host plant! In addition, it is fun to watch the bumblebees make a hole in the base of the flower to get to the pollen and nectar. It also has attractive fruit for you and the birds, as well as pretty fall color.

Sue Bara also recommends the Solidagos or Goldenrods for their herbal properties. Did you know that the leaves can be used as first-aid for minor wounds (among other healing qualities)? The Goldenrods light up the fall with their bright yellow flowers that attract hoards of pollinators.

Meadow Fritillary and many other pollinators go wild over Solidago, the Goldenrods.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Meadow Fritillary and many other pollinators go wild over Solidago, the Goldenrods. Photo by Lori Athey.

Shelia Vincent loves to show groups of children the Asclepias or Milkweed and Butterflyweeds because of their interesting flowers, milky sap and funky seedpods. In addition to a variety of pollinators looking for nectar, you can often find Monarch caterpillars munching on them too.

John Harrod, DEEC Site Manager recommends Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida as a good tough plant for urban gardens and “for its profusion of flowers that are smaller and tend to bloom later but longer than the more common Rudbeckia hirta. I like that it ages well and does not look so scraggly like R. hirta once it is past its prime. In addition to a wide variety of pollinators, it attracts cool creatures like the yellow crab spider I found on one day eating a fly.”

This Goldenrod Crab Spider will sit and wait for prey on yellow flowers like Rudbeckia.  Photo by John Harrod.

This Goldenrod Crab Spider will sit and wait for prey on yellow flowers like Rudbeckia. Photo by John Harrod.

Two more of my favorite plants for pollinators are Echinacea purpurea or Purple Coneflower and Ceanothus americanus or New Jersey Tea. The Echinacea is a magnet for all kinds of butterflies and bees, and after the flowers have gone to seed, flocks of Goldfinches. The Ceanothus is a small shrub with billowy white flowers that attracts some very strange-looking pollinators as well as small butterflies.
Once established, these are all tough, hard to kill plants, so you can try them in your yard with confidence.

Happy gardening and we will see you at the Native Plant Sale, April 30 to May 1!

By Lori Athey: Backyard Habitat Coordinator

The Delaware Nature Society Native Plant Sale (May 1- 4) theme this year is “Inspired Plant Combinations: Create Your Garden Masterpiece”.  Got a spot in your garden that needs some POW?  We can help!

When considering buying new plants, first note the light and soil moisture conditions where you want to plant.  Second, consider how much space (height and width) you want the new plant to fill. Our plant sale catalog gives you all the information you need to make the right plant selections. If you are starting from scratch with a new bed, you will want a combination of plants…maybe a small tree, a few shrubs and some groundcovers.  If you are adding plants to an existing bed think about what is already there, what type of garden interest are you trying to achieve, and how will your new plant fill that role?

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits Monarda in a backyard garden.  Photo by Hank Davis.

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visits Monarda in a backyard garden. Photo by Hank Davis.

Back to that POW!  One of the most exciting wildlife experiences in the garden is when you have a visiting Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Below is a list of my favorite plants to attract the Hummingbirds.  They all flower in shades of red, orange & deep coral pink.  How is that for POW? 

*Wild Columbine/Aqualegia canadensis blooms April-May, perennial

Wild Columbine is another hummingbird favorite where you can see them feed from underneath the flower.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Wild Columbine is another hummingbird favorite where you can see them feed from underneath the flower. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

*Fire Pink/Silene virginica blooms April-May, perennial

Fire Pink POW!  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Fire Pink POW! Photo by Joe Sebastiani

*Red Buckeye/Aesculus pavia blooms in May, small tree or large shrub

*Trumpet Honeysuckle/Lonicera sempervirens blooms May to frost, woody vine, hummers prefer the red and coral selections

*Indian Pink/Spigelia marlandica blooms June-August and sporadically to frost, perennial

*Beebalm/Monarda red selections bloom June-July, perennial

*Turk’s Cap Lily/Lilium superbum blooms in July, perennial bulb

The tall Turk's Cap Lily will add a big color splash with a gorgeous structure, and in addition to hummingbirds, you will see butterflies nectaring on it.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

The tall Turk’s Cap Lily will add a big color splash with a gorgeous structure, and in addition to hummingbirds, you will see butterflies nectaring on it. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

*Plumleaf Azalea/Rhododendron prunifolium blooms July-August, large shrub

*Cardinal Flower/Lobelia cardinalis blooms July-September, perennial

*Trumpet Vine/Campsis radicans orange selections bloom July-September, woody vine

Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, really swallows up a feeding hummingbird.  Photo by Hank Davis.

Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, really swallows up a feeding hummingbird. Photo by Hank Davis.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in Delaware in mid-April and are residents through the summer.  In the fall, you will see an increase in their numbers since young birds are around and fall migrants are visiting our area.  By October, they are virtually all gone with the exception of a straggler or two.  Knowing this, you can plan to have a succession of blooms for them.  Add a sugar-water feeder to your garden for supplemental food, and be sure to clean the feeder regularly so that the water doesn’t spoil and make them sick.  Boil a solution of 4 parts water and 1 part sugar so that it keeps in the fridge longer.  Replace the solution at least once per week, and at the same time, clean the feeder with a 10% bleach/water solution.  This way, your garden hummingbirds will be happy and healthy.  Additionally, if you really want to spoil them, you can provide a “mister” that creates a fine mist of water that hummingbirds love to bathe in.   

Of course, Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is a well known and popular hummingbird attracting plant.  The reason?  It works!  Photo by Hank Davis.

Of course, Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is a well known and popular hummingbird attracting plant. The reason? It works! Photo by Hank Davis.

Plant enough of the perennials to create a good-sized patch, so you will get their attention.  Vines should be planted on a mature deciduous tree (like an old Wild Cherry) or a very sturdy structure.  For additional interest in the fall and winter, add a few Winterberry Hollies (Ilex verticillata both male and female) or Red Osier Dogwoods (Cornus serecia) and underneath it all, plant with Green-and-Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum).By adding a few of these native plants, your yard should be humming with activity all summer long.  Excited for spring yet!!!

By Lori Athey, Habitat Outreach Coordinator

What are birds eating right now in your backyard habitat?  If you have trees or shrubs in your yard that hold fruit all winter, American Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, and even European Starlings are probably enjoying whatever fruits that are remaining. 

Winterberry is a native shrub that holds its fruit all winter, or at least until hungry birds eat it.  Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, and Hermit Thrush are species that will be attracted to this in your landscape.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Winterberry is a native shrub that holds its fruit all winter, or at least until hungry birds eat it. Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, and Hermit Thrush are species that will be attracted to this in your landscape. Photo by Lori Athey.

If you haven’t yet cut back your asters, coreopsis, and coneflowers, seed-eating birds will be pecking at the old flowerheads and on the ground beneath for fallen seeds.  When there is extended snow-cover, it is especially important for birds to be able to access seeds on old flower-heads above the snow, since they can’t get to the ones on the ground.  American Goldfinches are famous for this type of behavior, but others that can be found doing this in the yard include Dark-eyed Juncos, Field Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows and Pine Siskins.

Standing stalks of seed bearing plants like Purple Coneflower provide food for a number of bird species such as American Goldfinches.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Standing stalks of seed bearing plants like Purple Coneflower provide food for a number of bird species such as American Goldfinches. Photo by Lori Athey.

How do you provide food for birds that do not eat seeds or fruits?  Lately, I have seen birds digging through the fallen leaves in my landscape beds.  Did you know that leaf litter is full of insects, spiders, and other goodies that your birds can eat in winter? In addition, toads, fireflys, some butterflies, and other beneficial insects winter in those leaves.  Often, flocks of American Robin, Common Grackle, Northern Flicker, Carolina Wren, Eastern Towhee and other sparrow species can be seen digging through leaf-litter for protein-packed overwintering insects and spiders.  

Consider leaving leaf litter on your flower beds not only as mulch, but to provide habitat for insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails and other small organisms that birds will seek out.  Photo by Lori Athey.

Consider leaving leaf litter on your flower beds not only as mulch, but to provide habitat for insects, spiders, crustaceans, snails and other small organisms that birds will seek out. Photo by Lori Athey.

So next year, rake those fallen leaves into your landscaped beds for the wildlife. Forget about shredding them –that kills beneficial insects and takes away that nice warm blanket that toads and others crave for their winter rest. Delay cutting back your seed bearing perennials until spring. And yes, add more fruiting shrubs and seeding wildflowers to your landscape next year for the birds too –you can get them all at the Delaware Nature Society Native Plant Sale, May 1-4.

 

Some plants to consider for providing late-winter bird food:

Chokeberry (Aronia species)

American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

Bayberry (Morella species) – Yellow-rumped Warblers love it!

Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana)

Pines (Pine species) – (Red-breasted Nuthatches seek out pine nuts)

Cone flowers & Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia species)

Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea NOT doubles)

Tickseed & Coreopsis (Coreopsis species)