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Old 06-07-2015, 11:58 AM   #1
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Default Native plant combinations

OK, we've talked here about native plant communities in the big picture (prairies, meadows what have you) but what about small gardens? Will-o has done some really special things in her gardens that I always look forward to hearing about and learning from. What sparked me to write this was looking over my terrace garden and noticing a really pleasing (to my eye) combination of pale purple coneflower, wild quinine and rattlesnake master. The rattlesnake master is not blooming yet but combined with the other two species create a sort of strong architectural upright airy element to the otherwise dense plantings around them.

So I sort of group plants into "blobs", "sticks" and "creepers" not to put too fine a point on it! Just using my terrace garden as an example I have the green "blobs" of wild bergamot, wild indigo, switchgrass, etc. Purple coneflower, rattlesnake master and wild quinine fall into the "stick" category. Against the background of "blobs" they really shine! They are tall and lanky with basal foliage and don't get that rounded form.

"Creepers" of course are anything that stays low to the ground and spreads filling in the spots between "blobs" and "sticks". I can always count on my friend the common violet that volunteers everywhere but creeping phlox and some other low phlox do the job too.

There are many "blob" forming plants but other "sticks" would be liatris which I'm trying hard to establish. I've got a few good groups of them now finally but have yet to see them play nice with other plants. They seem to like their space without crowding. I do have a nice group of them with Indian grass I'm hoping will mature nicely. Azure sage is there with them as well, it could be a nice trio if they like each other.

What are your favorite combos?
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Native plant combinations-terraces.jpg   Native plant combinations-coneflower-quinine-rattlesnake-master.jpg  
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Old 06-07-2015, 02:54 PM   #2
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Little Bluestem and anything that blooms in June, Butterflyweed, Wild Lupine.

Any native tall grass and Wild Blue Indigo, Joe-pye weed, Ironweed.

Usually like a grass, and a flowering plant, where the grass covers the base of the plant till it blooms in mid to late summer. Probably could use some more creepers though.

Native plant combinations-9281996881_8079a2ea43_c.jpg
Switchgrass 'Heavy Metal' and Wild Senna

Native plant combinations-9306075471_c0ee9ecd6d_c.jpg
Mountain Mint & Wild Bee Balm
Works for me because the bee balm doesn't seem to grow as much as it would in more sun maybe.

Native plant combinations-9373666114_a77c073250_c.jpg
Wild Bee Balm and False Sunflower

Native plant combinations-14443702694_fbc1c555a0_c.jpg
Woodland Phlox and Christmas Fern
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Old 06-07-2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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Native plant combinations-14776365721_a2d9e46c5a_c.jpg
Partridge Pea and Spotted Bee Balm

Native plant combinations-14813853843_231d8400f0_c.jpg
Switchgrass 'Heavy Metal', Wild Senna, Pokeweed
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Old 06-07-2015, 03:04 PM   #4
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Excellent topic Linrose! A community near mine has grouped Butterfly weed, purple coneflower and blacked-eye Susan's together. It always catches my attention when I drive by. I've been giving some thought to looking at my gardens like a huge container garden and trying to think of grouping in thriller, filler, and spiller categories. But I think many would be better placed in your "stick" category. Liatris and Bee-balm would be two "sticks" that come to mind.
Wild strawberry would be a good creeper. My Golden Alexander would be better categorized as a sprawler.
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Old 06-07-2015, 03:26 PM   #5
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I started to use Sweet Grass actually, as a creeper/filler. Forgot about Wild Strawberry. There is a centrifoil (spelling) creeper too.

Swamp Milkweed could be a "stick". Solomon Seal has a drooping stick form.
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Old 06-07-2015, 04:54 PM   #6
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Yes! Now we're talkin'. Thriller, filler, spiller - good descriptions of plant forms. My bee balm is actually more of a "blob" because it really takes up a big space in the garden although it really isn't rounded in form, just takes up a massive space.

Love the spotted bee balm and partridge pea rB. I have partridge pea in the field but it isn't as full and the flowers aren't as big as yours. The spotted bee balm is really cool, that's a plant I really want. The contrast in foliage is nice between the two.
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:19 PM   #7
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This thread, and especially the photos has me more and more excited about my meadow-in-the-making. I actually ordered some native grasses and rushes with some blue-eyed grass, among a few others--all PA ecotype. I also collected seed from native wildflowers in our yard, along the roadsides, and in wild areas with permission from land owner. Although I hadn't smothered as large of an area as I'd have liked, I do have some sections s sown and some have germinated. With more rain finally arriving tomorrow, I'm hopi g the second section I sowed will germinate as well. Hey, it's a star5. I look forward to sharing the combinations that occur that seem most pleasing here...although, I suspect that it will take 2 to three years to really come into its own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockerBOO View Post
Attachment 42592
Wild Bee Balm and False Sunflower
This photo especially makes me long for a native meadow here on our property.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockerBOO View Post
Attachment 42594
Partridge Pea and Spotted beebalm.
Partridge pea, being a native annual, was one that I added to the seed mix, hoping to have some color the first year (in addition to the Erigeron, daisy flea bane seeds I collected from our yard).

I've never encountered partridge pea in nature so, so far, I have no special attachment to it. I'm hoping that growing it here and seeing what it attracts helps me to connect more with it.
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Old 06-08-2015, 07:14 AM   #8
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The bergamot and false sunflower are rapid spreaders, perfect for a large space like that.
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Old 06-08-2015, 11:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linrose View Post
The bergamot and false sunflower are rapid spreaders, perfect for a large space like that.
Great...cause I have a large space like that. I'm hoping to have various "colonies" of species interwoven throughoutthe meadow. Perhaps a lower spot might be slightly more conducive to one species than another or a rock slightlsslightly below the surface will have just enough soil above to support something different. Just having enough variation in microclimates to have a wider variety of natives to enjoy.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:14 AM   #10
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I'm really enjoying the combination photos and explanations of how the plants are but together i.e.. blob, stick and creeper, a huge container garden of thrillers, spillers, fillers.

I think I would add color drifts, texture, and layers or height variations as my top 3 considerations to tie the gardens together.
I tend to tightly plant so I need really strong variations to save the garden from looking too much like a unified blob.
It is amazing to me how many plants end up at the same height.
Since the average person walking by sees flowers and color first I'll start there.


COLOR AND FLOWERS
I use 1 predominate color (or color family) or type of flower to drift through all the close beds.
This color changes with the sequence of seasons.


WHITE WITH TOUCHES OF ROSE
Right now the pentsemons are blooming and since they self seed profusely the white blooms with a slight pink tint carry your eye through all of the front and side gardens. ( The previous unifying flower color in the early spring was the pale lavender low growing moss phlox).

I edit them ruthlessly so they do not overwhelm the other plants, but leave just enough to have it look like a field of flowers from front to back.
The purple milkweed , really deep rose blooms, have also spread nicely in the left front garden and carries the slight pink throats of the penstemon.

In the side herb /vegetable garden I allow some penstemon to grow along with the small white flowers of cilantro that look like white clouds and attract the very smallest flying insects in profusion.

So it is not totally monochromatic there are strong verticals of "blue " Baptisia and the ends of the blue Amsonias.

For taller plants there is also 1 lovely white Baptisia with soft smokey grey stems and 1 goats beard with small white flowers blooming under the even taller red twigged dogwoods that also are blooming white.
Next to them are the pink flowers of native Rosa virginiana.

The last accent punches of color come from the taller vines, 5 red or yellow native honeysuckle.
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