Friday, January 09, 2009

Native Plant Love

Focusing on rain gardens, leads a person to native plants. Deep roots keep the soil loose, respirotranspire water, live through times of less rain. Local insects find food in the garden.

Planting rain gardens, native plants make sense. For instance, the rain garden we planted in Redford Twp, Michigan this summer, right next to our award winning CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow). Native plants all, it was made as a demonstration garden. The city came in with backhoes, dug out compacted soil, replaced it with compost and peat.

I use only compost as a soil improver and replacer in my garden, as that is what I have handy. I don’t have a backhoe either, so dig little holes with a post hole digger, back fill with compost. I do have a lot of compacted soil.

The natives around our place are:

purple asters, started from seeds from a nursery in Northern Lower Michigan. They seed themselves generously. I knew they’d do well, as white asters plant themselves. If you live in an area that deer come to, they will keep these rather large plants trimmed. I have to trim them myself if I want them shorter than 3 ft high.

common milk weed, started itself in the driveway years ago. It spreads. Monarchs love it, I have begun using the seed pod gossamer as stuffing for winter garments, turns out the stuff is very warm. I had a party in 2004. A woman who attended told me a story about collecting milk weed seed pods during in WWII, when she was a child. Kapok, for life jackets came from the South Pacific; from countries that we were at war with, Indonesia, etc. Our country was cut off from our supply of Kapok. Creative solution was for the government to ask every citizen, children most especially, to collect milkweed pods and send them to Petoskey Michigan, where there was a plant for processing pods into life jackets for the Navy.

echinacia and guillardia, birds love the seeds in winter.

native lobilia, blooms in fall.

catelpa- four trees down the hill, show good promise of competing with buckthorn, if I keep the buckthorn trimmed back.

Red oisier dogwood -down the hill it floods, but it is not wet enough in the summer, or sunny enough, for this pretty shrub, I’m thinking, as it is not doing well.

elderberry- I made flavored vinegar with the berries, have to get them before the birds do.


marsh mallow- self seeds. I like to keep it trimmed. I have not seen deer who come here to browse, only running past down the hill, so I have to do my own trimming.

Box- makes a nice foundation plant.

Button Bush, my friend got the seeds from Lake Orion, started them. The less than a foot high seedlings are still in my nursery, as I investigate suitable homes.


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