Native combo — Cedar waxwings dine on black chokeberry fruit in winter. © Fotolia
Here are some resolutions we can make to green up our lives in 2009.
Give by volunteering to beautify a public garden or to teach others about gardening. For opportunities, please check with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Inc. , or Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
Right plant right place. Besides proper planting methods, make sure to take into account a plant’s horticultural needs, such as sun or shade or wet or dry soil. Just as important is knowing the plant’s mature size. When you allow for a plant’s mature height, width and habit, you have fewer pruning duties. Here’s a guide for planting a tree from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful,
Fueling station — A monarch butterfly relies on the fall-blooming aster and other native plants for nectar as it migrates south for winter. © Fotolia
The Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society’s annual conference features Douglas W. Tallamy, a University of Delaware professor who specializes on the sustainable relationships among insects, wildlife and plants.
In his book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens (Timber Press, $27.95, hard cover), he writes of the unbreakable link between native plants and native wildlife.
The bugs, birds and other fauna are hard wired to seek food and shelter from native plants or to use them for laying eggs. The relationship is a matter of their survival and as we sprawl into the suburbs, we destroy or disrupt the natural habitat of birds, butterflies and other creatures.
Volunteer state's pride - Cupped petals of of distinguish it from others in the family. © Photo courtesy High Country Gardens
One of my favorite native perennials is the purple coneflower. These plants are long-blooming, upright and nutritious powerhouses for birds and butterflies.
The big flowering types have the scientific name Echinacea purpurea, which describes their purple-pink flowers. And just because purple is the second name, this species also comes in white, such as ‘White Swan’.
But there are a couple of other native, perennial coneflowers in the Echinacea family that are just as garden worthy but less well known.
The pale coneflower (E. pallida) and the Tennessee coneflower (E. tennesseensis) are pink, but more delicate than their purple cousins. For something completely different, there’s the Ozark coneflower (E. paradoxa), the only Echinacea that is yellow, thus the ‘paradox’ in its name.