Saturday, May 12

Gardening Journal

Last summer Tara and I started a landscaping project. We tore down a decaying wood fence along the property line and decided to replace it with shrubbery. Like most novices we went to Home Depot and bought some shrubs we liked. I had done research and thought I was getting native Tennessee plants but I was WRONG. More to this later. Most didn't do very well, which we figured was because it was Summer when we planted.

Winter came and we finally got around to planting our anniversary tree (we decided to give ourselves a tree for our 1st wedding anniversary). To do this we called a nursery Tara's Mom has used and loves, Growild. Let me stop here and say I cannot recommend these guys highly enough. They made the whole process one of the most satisfying shopping experiences I have ever had. I went to them with a few trees in mind and they made alternate suggestions based on where the tree would be placed and which ones would fair better for us. Keep in mind that they handle native plants only. We chose a variegated tulip poplar, a yellowwood and a purple robe. They were planted in winter so I was quite excited to see what they would look like in spring.

Spring sprang and they looked great, the purple robe was especially spectacular and then we had the record lows and extended freeze around Easter. These three trees have recovered wonderfully, I swear the purple robe is 5 feet taller already. The shrubs are a different story. We bought a few butterfly bushes, a few burning bushes and a few crape myrtles. The crapes have done the best out of the lot. In the meantime we got a card for an open house type thing at Growild. There were nature walks and hay rides and food and music and a big sale. We took one of our nieces and came back with 3 shrubs and some ground cover plants (I am actually attempting to landscape).

Now I'll go back to what I said in the first paragraph about buying what I thought were native plants. I had a couple of books on landscaping and gardening in Tennessee which is where I got the idea for the shrubs we bought last year. This year at Growild I find out that none of them are native species and what's worse, Butterfly Bush is a "Category 3" invasive (Kudzu is a Category 1). Burning Bush is invasive & Crapes are non-natives but are not invasive. I ended up with three Nine-barks to replace the Butterfly Bushes. My point in talking about this is that you have to be very careful where you get your info. My sources were legit but at the least misleading, at the most incomplete and/or inaccurate. Last week a ran an experiment, I took Growild's list of available plants to Lowe's to see which natives they carried and out of all the plants Lowe's had only about half a dozen were natives. If you want native landscaping you won't find much at the big box home improvement stores.

Why am I stressing the use of natives? Two main reasons:
1. they are easier to maintain, they belong here so you really don't have to work too much with them
2. we've already caused enough chaos and destruction in our environment why not promote the growth of something natural.
The other plants I bought are used in an attempt to beautify my air conditioner compressors; you know, the big ugly outdoor part of a HVAC system. I wanted something that wouldn't get in the way but something that would look nice. I got several eco-lacquer spider plants and three heucheras; 2 "Autumn Brides" & 1 Purple Leaf Hairy Alumroot or maybe its a purple palace, I forget. These spider plants are small but they apparently grow a lot and quickly. They are low growing so they won't really cover up anything but I won't have to cut grass and these are interesting little plants. We'll see how it all looks after they grow and then I will chance some other areas, I already have ideas.

That is the saga of a landscaping novice.

This is also posted on my new eco-centric blog, Black & Green
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