Native To Know: The Oregon Grape Holly

img 15781 1024x768 Native To Know: The Oregon Grape Holly

Originally gaining popularity with New Englanders after the Lewis and Clark expedition brought seeds back from the Pacific Northwest, this little known plant will dazzle you with it’s unusual shape and year round color and interest.

What You’ll Love:

  • Blooms in January! The Mahonia holds on to it’s large clusters of yellow blooms, from January through March or April, adding welcome color to the winter garden.
  • In the summer and fall the former yellow flowers become heavy draping fruit clusters in bright blue and purple hues.
  • This is a great “go anywhere” shrub, thriving in full sun to heavy shade.
  • This plant is almost completely immune to all pest and disease problems, and is one of the top five plants that botanical societies recommend to plant in areas with known Crown Gall infestation, due to its imperviousness to the bacterium.

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Native Landscaping Plant To Know: Washington Hawthorn

img 0459 225x300 Native Landscaping Plant To Know: Washington HawthornI’m planning some additions in my yard and garden for the spring, and this plant tops the list of prospectives for a bare area near my back fence. I’m familiar with this plant through my work in landscaping and habitat restoration, and I’ve decided that this is the year to add more native plant islands to my yard – partly out of a desire to add to the nonexistent habitat in my area, but mostly driven by my desire to bribe birds other than House Sparrows and Pigeons to my yard!

The Washington Hawthorn is another one of the plants on my “bullet-proof” list, that I recommend to everyone, no matter how green their thumb!  A native North American tree growing naturally from the North East to the Mississippi River, it is best used as a landscaping tree (don’t bother trying to tame it into a shrub), and provides a full four seasons of color, or fruit.

What You’ll Love:

  • This is resistant to many diseases.
  • It thrives in full sun exposure, partial sun, or total shade areas.
  • It can be planted in wet areas, or dry areas.
  • They grow a maximum of 20 feet tall, and fits in a small, or moderately size yard very nicely.
  • Is a great plant to have on hand for floral arrangements, and holiday crafts.

What It Gives Back To You And Your Yard:

  • Spring: The tree is covered in delicate blooms.
  • Summer: Full leafy foliage, and the development of berries.
  • Fall: The foliage turns bright colors for the fall before dropping and leaving the fully grown berries exposed.
  • Winter: The berries remain on the tree all winter long, and add interest in your planting beds, looking especially pretty in the ice and snow.  Songbirds especially will use this tree as a winter food source, and you can use it for decoration since boughs of the branches can be trimmed off to add to Holiday floral arrangements, hurricane lamp displays, or wreaths for your front door.

What It Does For The Environment:

  • Cleans the air,and processes CO2
  • Provides food, and shelter for birds and small mammals. 
  • Rebuilds native habitat, and offsets the need for foreign ornamental plants that can harm the local ecosystem.
I can’t wait to bring this tree into my neighborhood, and hope to build up a few native beds along with the introduction of the Hawthorn tree. I feel like it’s really important, especially in urban areas, to garden and build habitat with plants that are going to be able to adapt to the city, and with those that will really make a difference in the long term of the neighborhood. Thus far there are almost no gardeners in my immediate vicinity, so I want to invest in plants that will look good, meet a need, and thrive in an area that may inflict a little abuse on a plant.