Native Plants for Evergreen Gardens
Natives are “in” in the garden. At the March meeting of the Evergreen Garden Club, our program “Go Native!” was enthusiastically received by the largest audience of the year. Likewise, Evergreen’s other garden club, the Moonlight Garden Club, has designated this year as the year to “Plant Native.” What has brought about the growing trend toward using natives in our mountain area gardens?
The local foothills area has such a wealth of natives …wildflowers, grasses, groundcovers, shrubs and trees… with an array of exquisite foliage, texture, blossoms and berries.
Natives are becoming more available both as propagated plants at our local nurseries or as seeds through reputable seed companies. Purchasing seeds or plants are the best ways to obtain natives for your garden. Seed collecting and plant gathering is forbidden on certain public lands and a special use permit is required for others. Refer to the Colorado Native Plant Society website for detailed information on the ethics and legality of native plant collection. This website will also provide a comprehensive list entitled “Suggested Native Plants for Horticultural Use on the Front Range of Colorado.” (www.CoNPS.org)
Direct seeding provides a natural look and gives tremendous bang for the buck.
Sowing seeds is an excellent way to go if you have a large area to revegetate, such as in the case of new construction. I restored approximately two acres surrounding my newly constructed home in 2001. All grasses and herbaceous plants were sown from seed purchased from Western Native Seed out of Coaldale, Colorado. The Western Native Seed website provides photos and growing requirements for seeds, which can be purchased by individual species or in premixed collections, which have been prepared for the various life zones of Colorado. (www.westernnativeseed.com) Natives seeds are also available from Beauty Beyond Belief.
If you want immediate results or to increase your assured rate of gardening success, purchase plants from reputable nurseries rather than plant from seed. As the demand for natives has increased, so has the availability of native plants in Colorado nurseries. If you want to be sure you are purchasing the true natives, purchase plants by their full botanical name rather than their common name.
(Lanceleaf Chiming Bells)
You don’t need acres of land to get stunning results from seeding, nor do you need to replace your entire nonnative garden with new native plants. Sow or plant natives among existing perennials in a garden bed or border. Allow them to fill in spaces between such native shrubs as serviceberry (Amelanchier ailnfolia) or shrubby cinquefoil (potentilla fruticosa) Or you may want to confine your ornamentals close to your house in your more “civilized” garden beds and sow or plant your natives in the outer sections of your gardens in a more “designed by nature” manner.
(Rocky Mt. Penstemon)
A stroll through the native plant areas of the Denver Botanic Gardens or Vail’s Betty Ford Alpine Gardens will also provide ideas for your own garden design. Or simply observe the surrounding environment where you will find native bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) occupying an aspen meadow along with black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) or Rocky Mountain columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) growing with Rocky Mountain wild iris (Iris missouriensis) beside a shaded mountain stream. Recreating such natural montages in your own garden will reward you with a garden style, which is uniquely Colorado.
The Following Natives have been offered at the Annual Plant Sale:
Double Bubblemint(Agastache cana)
Sunset Hyssop (Agast. rupestris)*
Windflower (Anemone multifida)*
Pink Pussytoes (Antenn.dioica )*
Dwarf Pussytoes (Antenn. parvifolia)*
Barneby’s Columbine (Aquil. barnebyi)
Rocky Mt. Columbine (Aquil. caerulea)
Yellow Columbine (Aquil. chrysantha)
Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)
Colorado Holly (Mahonia repens)*
Wild Four O’Clock (Mirabilis multifora)
Pineleaf Penstemon (Penstem. pinifolius)
Yellow Pineleaf Penstem. (Penstem. pi.)*
Rocky Mt. Penstemon (Penstem. strictus)
Little Bluestem ( Schizachyriu scoparium)*
BeeBalm (Monarda fistulosa)
Orange Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)*
Photos were taken by Nan Spence in her garden at 8200 feet.