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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grow Where Planted

Grow where you are planted”is an old adage and one I firmly believe in - especially when it comes to gardening. That’s sometimes easier said than done.

A few years back, my husband and I decided to strive for a more natural-looking and low-maintenance yard so began to incorporate more native plants. Helen and Karen had a wonderfully wild native landscape around their homes, and readily welcomed us to “Come and dig.” The hard work definitely paid off and today we revel in our own semi-wild back yard. In the process of nurturing I, in turn, am nurtured by what I observe and learn.

The brash and bold Salal and the diminutive Twinflower expand by sending out underground runners, slowly and slyly expanding their territory. We welcome this, as we want ground covers to take over the areas where these were planted. Low Oregon Grape multiplies more slowly, but Wood Sorrel and False Lily-of-the-Valley take over rapidly and both are wonderfully charming with attractive green foliage and small white flowers.

Among the shrubs the Evergreen Huckleberry, Red Huckleberry, Red flowering Current, and Snowberry take their time, gradually adding branches and height each year. If left on their own, these eventually can become a rangy thicket, but a bit of judicious pruning produces lovely stand-alone specimens. All produce berries which, edible or not, add much in the way of color and texture.

Native ferns have their own special requirements, mostly shade and soil on the dry side. The delicate, lacy Maidenhair Fern prefers moist shade and dies back each winter, while the Sword and Deer Fern remain green all year. All grow in clumps, gradually adding fronds and increasing in size with time.

Wildflowers are well known for their ability to produce myriad seeds and take over in some places. We’ve encouraged Starflowers, Western Columbines, and Yellow Monkey-Flowers because they produce year after year but are not too hard to keep in check. Roadside flowers I enjoy and hope to add are Bleeding Heart, Orange Honeysuckle, Fringecup and Pearly Everlasting.

We are not the only ones who enjoy this native vegetation. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, frogs, snakes and the occasional raccoon or coyote seek shelter, cover, and food here. The benefits radiate ever outward.

Mostly, we have been successful and the plants are thriving. But here and there is the odd failure. Whether the fault lies with us or the plant, who can say, but it’s obvious all is not well. The plant may look spindly and peaked, with sparse, pale foliage. Perhaps it puts out no new runners or fails to increase in size or height. We have several ferns that have not increased in size or number of fronds in years. The odd thing is they don’t die, they just don’t thrive - they simply fail to grow.

We also are meant to grow, although we each may do this in different ways. There is much to learn, share, and give beyond our own doorstep. We are so much richer when we grow - the world most definitely is.
This is my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples... You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.
John 15:8  & 16

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