2 Useful Native Plants for Dry Shade

Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum) and Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) are both useful plants for the native shade garden, or any shade garden for that matter. They are blooming now in our own place. They are not spectacular, but they are beautiful in their own quiet way. Adaptable to a variety of light and soil conditions, they can help provide a sense of fullness and green abundance even in areas of dry shade.

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Starry Solomon’s Plume flowers are tiny white stars on short spikes.

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Scarlet Tanager, I Presume

This past weekend a pair of Scarlet Tanagers visited the back garden. Like the Indigo Bunting, this is a bird that we see only once every year or so.

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A pair of Scarlet Tanagers on the feeder.

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A Fern Foundation

Somewhere it is written that foundation plantings must be evergreen shrubs (Yews, Boxwood, and the like). and that these shrubs must be clipped into geometric shapes. Judy and I, however, have defied this commandment and have come up with a different sort of foundation planting: Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and allied perennials. I would also consider grasses, but the front of our house faces north and is in quite a lot of shade.

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Ostrich Ferns with Great Merrybells.

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Trillium Time

The Large-Flowered Trilliums (Trillium grandiflorum) I planted a few years ago are slowly settling in and bulking up. It’s an elegant flower with its three gleaming-white petals.

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A Good Year for Crabapples, and Other News

This has been an exceptionally good year for our ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple, which stands in what I call the Left Bank of the Front Garden. These days it is just smothered in blossoms.

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‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple

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From One Mother to Another

I don’t believe in coincidences. It cannot be just chance that so many of our best backyard bird sightings happen on or the day before Mother’s Day. I’m convinced that these rare appearances are a gift from one mother to another, namely from Mother Nature to Judy.

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Indigo Bunting with White-Crowned Sparrows

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Spring Miscellany: Tulips, Orioles, Lenten Roses, and Daffodils

This seems like a good time for a post devoted to miscellaneous development in the garden.

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4 Spring Flowers for Shade That I Love

Let’s talk about spring-blooming native plants that like shade, specifically those that have been catching my eye lately in our garden. With one exception, these are all plants that Midwestern gardeners should be using a lot more.

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Male flowers of Early Meadow Rue

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A Lurie Garden Bulb Walk

Yesterday we were lucky enough to go on a tour of Lurie Garden’s spring bulb display with Jacqueline van der Kloet, who designed Lurie’s original bulb plantings in 2006. She’s in Chicago now to update those plantings, and will return in October to oversee the planting of thousands of new bulbs.

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Jacqueline van der Kloet, far left, talks bulbs with friends of the Lurie Garden. 

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Exploring the Smokies

When we weren’t hiking, our friends drove us around so we could explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by car.

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