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Old 12-05-2008, 03:57 PM   #11
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Oh oh oh, try this publication-
'Bringing Nature Home' by Douglas Tallamy
Amazon.com: Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, Updated and Expanded (9780881929928): Rick Darke, Douglas W. Tallamy: Books


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Old 12-05-2008, 06:49 PM   #12
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There should be an article on just that coming soon, will-o
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Old 12-08-2008, 06:31 AM   #13
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Thanks for the book suggestion Lorax and I'm looking forward to the article Prairiefreak.

I do own, and have read, 'Bringing Home Nature' with pleasure along with 'Noah's Garden' and 'Planting Noah's Garden' by Sara Stein. All 3 form a good starting core of books for changing to a native plant garden that feeds the environment rather then strips it.
I even have 'Plant Communities of New Jersey' Collins and Anderson, and 'Natural
Landscaping Designing with Native Plant Communities. These are excellent sources also, but, what I would like to see is how like minded individuals with small suburban properties actually put together their garden(s). When space is at a premium and other limitations abound (plants growing next to sidewalks, asphalt, streets) and the
plants have to fit the spaces and mini environments while still looking attractive to the neighbors so the "lawn police" aren't called. Having a native plant garden is a challenge under these conditions.

Anyone else trying this or have parts of their garden that would work in limited spaces? Specific plant combinations that compliment each other?

Right now I've added small cultivars of winterberry (Ilex verticillata), 3 shrubs, 2 female 1 male to add more winter berries.
My thought is to try to cover all 4 seasons and have more variety but in order to do so I had to remove some swamp milkweed. It's always a trade off right now so every plant counts.

As lovely as I find the charcoal curls of Baptisia, evergreen Ilex glabra, acid gold Amsonia, seed heads of echinacea and soft pink of switch grass in late Fall it won't matter a bit if it's not attractive to my neighbors.
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:35 AM   #14
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I believe I understand your question better now.

Perhaps start by determining your ecoregion-
http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions/nj_eco.htm
Try utilizing the USDA's Plants Database which is a tool that wasn't available to me when I first started-
http://plants.usda.gov/
Over to the right, you will see an area titled "I want to". Click on “see a list of plants in my state”. You can actually narrow your search of indigenous species down to your county and can narrow the types of species down to your specific ecoregion which provides you with a great base from which to work going au naturelle. In my opinion, the most exquisitely beautiful plant combinations are those that were once part of the natural community.

Perhaps use the combination of the above combined with what you believe to be aesthetically appealing as a guideline when determining which plants to companion plant?

I think the gardeners like you who actually have design sense are going to fair far better up against the gardeners like me who don't when it comes to neighbors. Yet on the other hand, public awareness has been heightened and I'm not seeing the opposition to natural landscaping that I used to see just 10 years ago. They backed off of me a few years ago and ironically, the tables were turned on the tree police when I pointed out that other properties were doing absolutely nothing to comply with the noxious weed laws in our state and exactly why was it that my city wasn’t at least making an effort to educate its residents on the importance of complying with what few laws we have on the books. But (sigh) your state doesn't even have a listing of noxious weeds or invasive species. Tables were turned on the lawn police too. Who are they to determine for me what percentage of my property is lawn and what percentage isn't and how come we're being slammed for having larger flower beds and "landscaped areas" than our neighbors who have little more than the status quo burning bushes flanking their front doors and the Bradford Pears smack dab in their front lawn with a few areas adjacent to their driveways/sidewalks and tight around the foundations of their home designated as areas to plant what ever came with the landscape package from their builders or what they found at big box discount stores?

Another big help to me dealing with the lawn and tree police was joining a local WildOnes Chapter.
http://www.for-wild.org/

I checked their listings for a chapter close to you and none exists. Perhaps a native plant society? WildOnes provides its members with invaluable information on how to deal with what you refer to as the lawn police. WildOnes can't be the only organization out there that does that.

Because of all the natural areas on my property, the actual space I will have to deal with won't be much more than a sixth of an acre by the time I'm done. So space is extremely limited here too and I'm going to have to plug away removing the exotics I planted over the years. Yes, I planted exotics. Haven’t we all? The exotics that were invasive have all been removed for the most part. I've been trying me best to maximize what is planted in those "landscaped" areas and am finding it's coming down to trial and error based on my personal tastes for companion plants. Personal preferences in native plant material are going to vary wildly from person to person and I truly believe only the gardener can make those decisions for him/herself. It's my intent to turn the entire front lawn into a prairie, I think prairies are beautiful. I suspect some neighbors will voice disapproval but maybe not. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I find their monocultures of grass to be hideously unattractive and anything but in the best interests of public health. They're really going to have a tough time singling me out for retaliatory action in the future because of my conscientious decision to revegetate the areas directly around our home with north eastern native plants and cultivars of natives as well as my conscientious decision to wipe out the grass that’s left replacing it with locally native prairie “ornamentals”. They'll get hung up anthropomorphizing and that's a dead end. A good and desirable plant was already defined for me and that resulted in them being backed into a corner. I do intend to keep the mild mannered exotics that were given to me as gifts such as my hostas and I will be adding cultivars of natives to the area directly around the home. Barring that, the grass we currently have is cut to the appropriate height so I’m compliant with the lawn police.

Hang onto all of your receipts for plants and accessories and other gardening related products. If a neighbor turns you into the lawn police, let’s draw upon our collective experiences dealing with the Hitler Youth by pooling our resources and ten to one odds collectively I believe we’ll be able to provide you with enough ammunition to knock out a formal complaint from a neighbor who doesn’t share your highly advanced and very well developed taste in plants. Your landscape design is beautiful. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen for a home landscape. I seriously believe they’d be hard pressed to go after you unless they’ve got some sort of an ordinance stating homeowners must have a minimum of 80% of their yard devoted to grass.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:37 AM   #15
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Thanks Lorax for all the information. I had identified my area as Piedmont but this was a better map. Unfortunately the usda plant section is being reworked currently so I temporarily can't access some information. I already have a number of lists of plants native to my area. The information that is more difficult to come by is what plants grow together in communities.

As far as the eco regions website I haven't a clue how to read any of the information except for identifying my area on the map. As a non academic, non scientist any further information means nothing to me.

I did get a warning violation for the sidewalk strip plants again this Fall, this after I went to court and won the case a few years ago and was told they would leave me alone. It is the result of one neighbors complaints. The official complaint had to do with plant material falling into the street and walkway which was clearly not applicable because I carefully fence and control plants with hidden guide lines of waxed twine. After much aggravation and many calls resulting in another official visit I prevailed, at least temporarily.
Wait until you hear why the difficult neighbor complained. I have been adding more gardens (one a rain garden ) in the front on my pleasant neighbors property where it touches mine. With their approval of course. In the fall I extended their garden and added asters and blackeyed susans and purple cone flower. Well, one by one the new plants started to disappear. It was clearly difficult neighbors doing so pleasant neighbor confronted difficult neighbor and demanded the last plant removed back. It was returned and I was turned into the lawn police.

You can see in the photo how the poor plants are controlled and firmly in place. There will be only minimal waving in the wind for these grasses.

Which brings me full circle back to my first inquiry, how other suburban gardeners design with native plants in an attractive way that respects the plants but can fit the space. In other words, can you have a piece of prairie if you have to edit and confine it so tightly? Or how do you work a "wild native garden" in a limited contained setting? Is it possible to design with such opposites to work with? I have seen successful grass plantings in limited spaces but those are usually done by using only one grass type for the whole area. Very effective and modern in appearance but lacking in plant communities that would support many insects. etc.

It seems to me if diverse communities of native plants are to be used in the suburbs and cities successfully we will have to figure out how to use them decoratively.
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:01 AM   #16
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The ecoregions can be a help if someone is trying to figure out what types of native plants are attractive to them that would have a better chance of making it for the long haul. You already have a highly developed sense of design and would probably know it when you saw it when you were out plant shopping plus you're more of a veteran gardener in that you're already selecting plants that work for you.

Quote:
Well, one by one the new plants started to disappear. It was clearly difficult neighbors doing so pleasant neighbor confronted difficult neighbor and demanded the last plant removed back. It was returned and I was turned into the lawn police.
Pity you of all people have to live near that ingrate. I'd be happier than a pig in poop with you next to me and so would most of my friends.

Quote:
It seems to me if diverse communities of native plants are to be used in the suburbs and cities successfully we will have to figure out how to use them decoratively.
You just summed up why I believe "the gardeners like you who actually have design sense are going to fair far better up against the gardeners like me who don't when it comes to neighbors". Doesn't seem to matter whether one lives on a small suburban lot or a little bit of acreage when they're stuck in the same subdivision with a turf hugger from hell attempting to ram their definition of attractive down your throat. Really sorry about that because your yard is one of the most beautiful suburban lots out there and is quite inspirational.

I know of one local property (about 15 miles away) that is almost as beautiful as yours that is obviously lovingly tended to like yours is. It's winter here but you can still see the strong "bones" to the design. Once the roads are cleared up, I'll try to drive over there and take a photo for you. I first learned of the property because of a newspaper article. Neighbors had ganged up on this person and even the writer claimed the property was an eyesore. Property was anything but an eyesore but, it wasn't all turf like neighboring properties.

Quote:
Which brings me full circle back to my first inquiry, how other suburban gardeners design with native plants in an attractive way that respects the plants but can fit the space.
I don't know if you realize it yet or not but... you're an expert. I personally have sent out photos of your property in e-mails to encourage people to go for it who live in an ocean of turf who have been intimidated by all the turf huggers. I sent out links to this site to three of those people hoping they'd join because at least one of them now has a small planting of prairie plants in her yard while another is enlarging her flower beds bit by bit. Your property is one of those properties that is setting the pace.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:22 PM   #17
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We have lawn police here, too, but they leave my native plant gardens alone...I have them on both sides of my driveway. Oddly enough, after I started my native plant garden, my neighbors started planting stuff in flowerbeds in front of their houses, too. I think if your garden looks like a tended garden, i.e., weeded, neat borders and/or paths, then the lawn police may leave you alone.

The snow pic was taken yesterday, the flower pic was taken at height of bloom, about early-mid July of this year.
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