Painter’s Palette

Linear-leafed Paintbrush

Tap into your inner artist and break out your paintbrushes. These colorful members of the Orobanchaceae (until recently in the Scrophulariaceae) can be found in every state or province in North America, although the great majority of the 200 or so species are limited to the western part of the continent. The USDA PLANTS database [...]

A Matter of Names

So I have this theory. My theory is that what you call something is very important to how you feel about it. Actually, this isn’t just my theory—marketers have known this for a very long time. The noble filbert got no traction at all outside the Pacific Northwest, but you can get hazelnut coffee anywhere. [...]

Planting the green roof. What is a native plant, really?

hospital1

Many folk have an opinion as to what a native plant is. As a botanist and a lawyer by education, I typically use Aristotelian logic/reasoning to satisfy myself when answering a question.  My world view is centered around the classical world.  But I am trying to shake that up a bit. Get rid of the [...]

Get Thee a Hand Lens!

(Click for larger view)

As a naturalist there are certain pieces of equipment which are necessary; a pair of binoculars, a couple of fields guides, a notebook for example. However, how many of you would have listed a hand lens as one of those necessities? I never even thought of it until I read Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from [...]

Healing The Wounds Part 2 Habitat Loss

Gopher Tortoise threatened by habitat loss

Ecosystem Gardening is about creating welcoming habitat for wildlife on your property, protecting the environment, and working to heal some of the wounds we’ve inflicted on the earth. This is part 2 of my series on healing these wounds, and today we’ll be talking about the wound of habitat loss. Dave Foreman in Rewilding North America: [...]

The Nativar Dilemma

Picture: wasp (omnivore) at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford CT enjoying the pollen of a local-genotype meadow rue

To continue last month’s discussion on determining what’s native, etc., I’ve saved the most frustrating part of this discussion for last: nativars. “Nativar” is handy term becoming popular to describe “near natives” of various sorts. The term covers any plant that is somewhat closely related to a local native plant but not quite it – [...]

Stubby’s Story

Towhee

Statistics show that by the early ’90s urban sprawl in California had reduced the coastal sage scrub ecosystem by more than 90 percent. As you may know, coastal sage scrub is the habitat of the threatened California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren. Another lesser-known example of native bird that has been impacted by this statistic is [...]

Chipping Away at the Grass: How to Remove Lawn, a Little at a Time

sheet-mulching.jpg

By now, most of us know that the lawn isn’t exactly America’s greatest contribution to landscape design. The postage stamp lawns in front of our homes are a dead zone for wildlife – barren of pollinators, sucking up precious resources, and taking up room that could be used for a more positive contribution (food? Natives? [...]

When a Good Plant is Hard to Find

Anise-scented goldenrod is lovely, but hard to find

In most parts of the country, I’d wager, a gardener intent on using native plants will have hundreds of species readily available to them. For one thing, many very common ornamental and landscape plants are North American natives: even the most bland of big-box garden centers here in the Mid-Atlantic will often carry plants like [...]

Is There a Meadow in Your Future?

Rain drenched Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern sea oats). Nodding seed heads just beginning to turn to ivory pinks then golden by autumn.

A storm rumbled through today and we got some much-needed rain after a blistering week in the 90’s. The temperature dropped 15 degrees and a hint of autumn was left in the air. Leaves are already starting to mass on the paths between my meadow plantings and the coneflowers, bee balm and milkweed are nearly [...]

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