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Our Natives are Right at Home

Native plant is a term used to describe plants that are indigenous to a particular area. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in a particular place. These plant species are adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are the foundation of our native ecosystems, or natural communities.


Native Plants Save Energy:
Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so they can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require very little care.

Native Plants Provide Balance:
Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions where it is suited, but preventing it from running wild.

Native Plants Benefit Local Ecosystems:
Natives are a cornerstone of biological diversity. They provide food and shelter for native wild animals such as birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The also keep the natural balance of each.

Native Plants Help Save the Bay:
Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff. They help divert water from storm drains and decrease the impact of runoff to rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay. This improves water quality.

Here is a recommended list of Natives for you to try in your garden. You will definitely have success with these native plants while benefiting wildlife and our ecosystem.

Native Grass-Like Plants
• Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus)
• Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
• Rush (Juncus effuses)
• Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries)
• Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Native Perennials
• Aamsonia (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
• Columbine (Aquilegia Canadensis)
• Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnate)
• Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose)
• False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
• Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
• Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)
• Threadleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata)
• Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
• Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
• Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium coelestinum, dubium)
• Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
• St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum)
• Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
• Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
• Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)
• Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)
• Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
• Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)

Native Shrubs
• Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
• Clethra (Clethra alnifolia)
• Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
• Inkberry Holly (Ilex glabra)
• Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
• Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria)
• Sweetspire (Itea virginica)
• Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
• Bayberry (Myrica cerifera)
• Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)

Native Trees
• Red Swamp Maple (Acer rubrum)
• River Birch (Betula nigra)
• Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
• Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginica)
• Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
• Sweetby Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
• Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
• Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
• Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Native Vines
• Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
• Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
• American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)

Dancing in the Garden

Salvia Maraschino and Gaura Whirling Butterflies

Most gardeners only plan to wow their sense of sight in the garden. Colorful plants, coordinating displays, and even decorative containers are given much attention, but these only create a visual interest. Movement in the landscape is considered by many to be on of the key features in a well developed garden and can make for a far more interactive and inspiring outdoor space. When planning your garden, try to incorporate plants that will add a fun and whimsy touch. Here are few perennials that will not only add a fine and delicate texture to your landscape composition but will also dance in your garden all summer long!

Salvia 'Maraschino' - also called "Autumn Sage" this variety boast an abundance of velvet red blooms that are bring hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden and blooms all summer and fall. This salvia has an upright habit and grows to 2 to 3 feet tall. Use as an accent, in borders and beds and containers. Also makes a good cut flower. Blooms are edible and often used as garnish for salads. Maraschino is drought tolerant and prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil.

Gaura Whirling Butterflies - features sprays of white star-shaped flowers tinged with pale pink. In the breeze these move constantly, looking like a cluster of small butterflies. This relatively low maintenance perennial grows 1 to 3 feet tall and is excellent in containers, rock gardens or mixed borders. Whirling Butterfly does best in full sun to partial shade. It is adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions and is heat and drought tolerant.

Peonies are Popping!


These outrageously beautiful blooms are popping open all over Hampton Roads right now. A garden favorite, who doesn’t love the low maintenance, ruffly big flowers of a peony? These blooms are the quintessential wedding bouquet flower, so remember to cut the blooms and bring them inside for colorful indoor vases. Peonies come in several varieties: Tree peonies, Herbaceous peonies and a cross of the two -- Itoh peonies.

Herbaceous peonies are the most well known type of peony and produce beautiful cut flowers. These deciduous perennial peonies die back to the ground every winter and re-emerge each spring. They grow in part sun but benefit from some afternoon shade here in Hampton Roads. Most prefer neutral to slightly alkaline soil and good drainage is essential. The flower stems may not be strong enough to keep the often heavy, flamboyant flowers upright so we recommend staking these peonies. These low maintenance shrubs are deer proof. Choose from these varieties: Hawaiian Coral, Pink Parfait, Primevere, Sea Shell, Shirley Temple, Paul Wild, Miss America, Do Tell, Bowl of Beauty Karl Rosenfield, and Velvet Splendor.

Tree peonies are not exactly trees, in fact they are long-lived, hardy deciduous shrubs. We recommend planting them in full sun to part shade. They can tolerate some light shade but the plants may begin to grow towards the light. Their woody structure allows them to support beautiful dinner sized plate blooms. After blooming, they provide structure in the garden with deep green leaves in summer and bronze-purple foliage in fall. These peonies grow between 3-7 feet tall. Choose from orange, red and yellow varieties.

Itoh peonies are a cross of the green foliage and exotic blooms of the tree peony and the seasonal growing habit of herbaceous peonies. Itoh peonies are grown for their huge, beautiful blooms and lush green foliage. Historically, Itohs were challenging to grow and thus hard to find and rather expensive. But that’s all changed. A mature plant may produce 50 or more dinner plate size flowers on strong, short stems that do not requiring staking. These peonies are more compact in size and grow 2.5 feet tall - 3 feet wide. With dinner-plate sized flowers, a compact shape, deer resistance and low maintenance, what’s not to love about these beauties? Choose from these varieties: Cora Louise, Morning Lilac, Dandy Keiko, Scarlet Heave, Paeonia Singing in the Rain, Paeonia Lollipop, Paeonia Magical Mystery Tour, Paeonia Scrumdidleumptious, Paeonia Berry Garcia and Paeonia Magical Mystery Tour.

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