Planting natives is great for many reasons – it supplies insects with much needed food sources, they tend to be less invasive, they complete our natural ecosystems, etc. But they don’t have to be ugly, weedy looking and boring. There are so many beautiful native plants to choose from, and including them in your plantings increases the beauty, sustainability and productivity of your landscape.
The first step in choosing the natives that best fit your needs is to divide and conquer. Start with the biggest plants and work your way down. Trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials. Landscapes that have multiple layers benefit a greater quantity of species – and you. Trees help shade, shrubs create variety and privacy and perennials and grasses provide color and interest, texture and seasonality.
I am going to highlight a few native choices that are anything but boring. And the do NOT look like weeds.
River Birch – This anything but boring, year long stunner is a great medium sized tree. At about 30′ x 30′ everyone has room for this little charmer. The exfoliating bark is beautiful in all seasons, and the fall color is a bright pop of yellow.
Serviceberry – Another great small tree with all season interest. At 20′ x 20′ this single or multiple trunked beauty is easy to make room for. White spring flowers, red berries the birds love, red/orange/yellow fall color and smooth, grey bark with beautiful form all winter long.
Fothergilla – 4′-6′ x 4′-6′. White bottle brush flowers in spring, large course textured leaves that turn yellow in the fall. Lacy, layered form for winter interest.
Smooth Hydrangea – 4’x5′. Round snowball flowers in June (earlier than most Hydrangea), on straight, thicket forming clumps. Clumps have big impact when blooming and dried flowers create winter interest.
Grasses and Perennials:
Northern Sea Oats – Native grass 3′ tall, 2′ wide. Flat, shimmery, quaking seed heads in late summer to fall. Birds love the food, you will love the motion and sound of the oats quaking.
Helenium – 3′ tall, 2′ wide. Talk about long blooming! Mid June until early August color – red/orange and yellow on the same plant. Butterflies LOVE it! Bonus – deer do not!