Wild in the Eastern Deciduous Forest

– Posted in: Garden Photography, Sustainable Gardening

The Eastern United States is an entirely different native ecosystem from California.  Duh.

Liriodendron tulipifera -, Tulip poplar, Budding with spring leaves emerging

Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip poplar, budding with spring leaves emerging in deciduous woodland.

The Central Prairies are different too.  Oh yeah.  And how about the Everglades ?  The desert Southwest ?

We live in a vast country with vastly different native plants, yet sometimes when we hear about the importance of gardening with native plants, we somehow think any “native plant” we see in a catalog or book is going to work in the native plant garden we want for ourselves.

I think most of our readers here at KapliPRO understand the concept of “native here”.  All plants are native somewhere, so before selecting native plants for your garden, try to understand your native ecosystem.

Redbud tree flowering by pathway to woodland garden

Redbud understory tree flowering by pathway to woodland garden.

My week in Virginia has only reinforced my wonder of the Eastern Deciduous Forest.  The grandeur of the trees gives incredible strength to the garden, and since they are deciduous in winter, the spring  woodland ephemerals are at their peak just as the leaves  break out.

Andrew & Frances Boninti Garden

Virginia garden just as the  spring as native trees leaf out.

I have lectured often about the beauty of California native plants in the garden, but for a recent presentation at the Virginia Living Museum I found myself struggling to find photos that fit my preconceived idea of previous lectures.

Andrew & Frances Boninti Garden

Garden focal point in Virgina spring garden.

Only after I got here and walked in the spring woods around my sister’s garden did I realize all I really needed to do was show the pictures.  The audience will get it.  I have seen beautiful native plant gardens in the East and almost ALL of them are in the forest.  Even the exceptions, some marvelous meadow gardens, are best understood as gaps in the forest, as ecosystems in transition.

Shady native plant woodland groundcovers with grass in Chanticleer Garden

Shady native plant woodland groundcovers with grass in Chanticleer Garden

Just show the photos.  Tell the audience these are native plants.  Explain these gardens are the easiest to grow since the plants are pre-adapted and the earth will welcome them readily.  Explain these are still gardens.  They must be tended and weeded.

Woodland groundcovers in environmentally-responsible, native plant sustainable garden, Mt Cuba Center Delaware. Trillium sulcatum (Southern Red Trillium), Thelypteris novaboracensis (New York Fern) foreground), Iris cristata (Crested Iris) on left with Rhododendron maximum (Rosebay Rhododendron), Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye) on right.

Woodland groundcovers in environmentally-responsible, native plant sustainable garden, Mt Cuba Center Delaware.

A clever gardener put these plants together and cared for them.  But caring for gardens is what gardeners do, and native plant gardens can be beautiful when we apply some basic garden design principles, choose plants that like each other, and take care of them.

Chairs in shady garden overlooking pond in woodland garden, environmentally-responsible, native plant sustainable garden, Mt Cuba Center Delaware

Chairs in shady garden overlooking pond in woodland, native plant sustainable garden, Mt Cuba Center Delaware

I can’t wait to photograph some more.

Betula nigra 'Heritage' - Heritage River Birch in Cranmer naturalistic woodland garden - Larry Weiner Design

Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ – Heritage River Birch in native plant garden as accent.

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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