September 6, 2016
Many garden centers and big-box stores put their plants on clearance every fall — “Gotta Sell Out To The Pavement!”, they say. You won’t see that approach at Edge of the Woods, or probably at any native plant nursery.
Why is that?
We grow most of our plants from seeds, cuttings, or tiny seedlings. We don’t order in tractor trailer loads of plants each spring — because no one is growing and selling these plants in mass quantities to ship us tractor trailers full. We don’t sell out ‘to the pavement’ because we’d be starting from scratch every spring, sowing seed, waiting for the plants to germinate, grow, and get big enough to sell.
You’ll see us occasionally post a sale, because we know that’s important to our customers. We’ll have a sale if we had an unexpected bumper crop of something, or because something just isn’t catching a customer’s eye and we know it would be perfect for anyone’s garden.
Another reason many garden centers put their plants on clearance is because the plants have suffered through the summer and look a bit bedraggled. The peak bloom season for many native plants is late summer and fall, so they are looking their best ’round about now. Some asters and goldenrods haven’t even started to bloom yet! So you can shop now and take home a plant that is still in bud.
We don’t walk away and ‘shut the doors’ when retail hours end in October, discarding any unsold plants. Our staff works hard from the time we end our retail hours until thanksgiving (or even later), getting the plants ready to go through winter. We do our very best to make sure the plants will be in good shape come spring.
Check Facebook and our website for occasional sales. Right now, we are offering half-off any maple tree while supplies last (red, silver, mountain or sugar) because we have an over-abundance of them. And all our remaining apple trees are half price. We also have a special on late season nectar plants — purchase a ‘set’ of nine at a special reduced price.
So stop in today and add a native plant to your landscape!
Fireworks Goldenrod about to bloom
There is still a lot blooming here at Edge of the Woods! Some things are still in bud and about to pop, like goldenrods and asters.
July 31, 2016
Ok, no plant is really and truly a Foolproof Native plant. All plants need water until they are established, and protection from mowers, herbicides, trampling and so on. But there are many native plants that will keep on tickin’ without a lot of attention from you. Help them get established. Give them the conditions they need. Then sit back and enjoy the pollinators, birds, and blooms.
Here are five of our favorite foolproof natives:
Liatris spicata (Spike Gayfeather)
Blooms July- August. Full sun, moist well drained soil. Drought tolerant once established. Butterflies, birds, hummingbirds. Special value to native bees. The brilliant purple shines during hot summer days.
Myrica pensylvanica (Bayberry)
Evergreen to semi-evergreen shrub, grows to 9 feet. Adaptable, grows on poor sandy soil. salt tolerant. Full sun, dry to wet. Birds will eat the seed (found only on female plants). Both male and female plants are needed if you want the berries, which are used to make Bayberry candles.
Aster novae-angliae/Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
(New England Aster)
Moist, sun to part sun, to 5 feet tall; Violet to purple flowers late summer. Butterflies. Nectar source for Monarchs. Special value to native bees, bumble bees, and honey bees. This easy plant is a cheerful addition to any garden.
New England Aster
Rudbeckia fulgida var fulgida
(Orange Coneflower, Brown Eyed Susan)
Moist, sun to part sun. 2′-3′ tall. Yellow flowers mid summer. Nectar for butterflies and beneficial insects. No garden is complete without it! The long bloom season brings joy to the latter half of the summer and these delicate blooms go right past frost.
Brown Eyed Susan
Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush)
Moist to permanently flooded, Sun. Open habit to about 9 feet. Buttonlike flower in summer. Birds, butterflies, beneficial insects. Moderately deer resistant. Special value to native bees, bumble bees, and honey bees.
April 9, 2016
When you are new to native plants, it’s hard to know which plant to pick. You’ll often hear native plant folk say ‘Right Plant, Right Place.’ What do we mean by that?
We mean that each plant has unique needs, and if you match the plant’s needs to the site, your plant will live. If a plant needs dry shade, and you plant it in dry shade, it should thrive. Don’t try to plant it in moist sun, or it will fail.
Because of the many unique requirements of native plants, we have created detailed signage for the plants here in our nursery. A team of at least three of us checks over each sign.
First, we research the plant’s needs and characteristics. We use respected reference books, relying heavily on the series by William Cullina. We also consult “The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr, and “Native Plants of the Northeast” by Donald Leopold. We’ll check the USDA database online to verify the plant’s native status. We often consult other online resources we know to be reliable. Then we add in what we have learned ourselves from over 20 years of experience working with native plants.
Next, we select icons to represent some key qualities of each plant. We have a library of icons we put on each sign, to give you information at a glance so there is not too much reading. We have icons for butterfly value, wildlife value, bird value, deer resistance and other qualities.
Then we decide which information is important enough to put on our 5×7 sign without overwhelming the shopper, while still providing critical info. Where we can, we put a QR code on the sign, that you can scan with any bar-code scanner from your smart phone. The code will take you to more plant information on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlflower website.
Third — and here comes the fun part — we coax and cajole our laser printer to print our creation on plastic card stock that will withstand the weather, hope we haven’t run out of toner (again!), and put the sign out with the crop.
So next time you visit, we hope you’ll give yourself time to select the right plant for the right place, and that the information on our signs is helpful. We have additional reference books inside if you need even more information.
An example of the signage at Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery
April 5, 2016
We offer guided tours of our demonstration gardens every Tuesday at 10 am, and the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm, from April through June.
The gardens change each week, some weeks offer more to see than others, but there’s always something going on. This morning, the Allegheny Spurge is blooming. Many don’t realize that this beautiful native is also fragrant. It will slowly waft upwards, one must linger to catch the scent. It’s not for those in a hurry!
Some of the trillium in our garden beds are poking up their heads, and the blood-root in container is blooming away — this plant has no fear of cold temperatures.
Our gardens are in need of a little tidying up — we hear that the insects kind of prefer it that way, anyway. So don’t expect ‘Longwood Perfection’ when you come visit. You’ll see real native gardens, in real life, with lots of real life happening in them. Pollinators, beneficials, blooms, birds — it all happens over the course of the season.
Won’t you join us?
Flowers of Pachysandra procumbens.
April 2, 2016
You’ve probably heard the buzz: that planting native plants is the ‘thing to do’. And you’re probably wondering:”Aren’t they weeds? What difference does it make what I plant in my little garden?”
The short answers are “No. And a big difference.”
Native plants bring beauty to the landscape and provide important food and shelter for beneficial insects, songbirds and wildlife. On top of that, a well-chosen assortment of natives plants requires no fertilizer, is relatively disease free, and once established, requires no watering except in extreme drought.
With a little planning, a small plot of earth can play a big role in sustaining a healthy ecosystem. Native plantings will delight and entertain as they provide visual evidence of their environmental benefit: birds eating berries and gathering nesting material, butterflies flitting from plant to plant sipping nectar, and insects nibbling on the leaves.
Yes, that’s the other benefit of a native garden: No frantic worrying when you see insects, no more running for the spray. We need those insects a lot more than they need us, and sharing your garden with them is well worth your while.
The vast majority of pollination is done by wild insects. Native insects rely on native plants for survival. Introduced plants, no matter how beautiful, are of little interest to native pollinators. If insects aren’t around to pollinate our crops, the task will fall to people. It’s already happening in China, where they have resorted to costly hand pollination for some fruit crops.
If the story of pollination doesn’t convince you that we need native plants, think back to the food chain we learned about in middle school biology. Remove the little critters at the bottom and watch the effects ripple up to the top. Then look around and see who’s at the top. We are.
If all this is too much of a science lesson for you, no worries. Enjoy all that a native garden has to offer and watch birds, butterflies and blooms unfold season by season. Add a native plant or two, and let the show begin.
March 29, 2016
Five Spring Garden Maintenance Tips
Tend your native plant garden as neatly, or as informally, as you like. Keep in mind, we’ve never yet heard a bird, bee or butterfly mutter “I wish they’d tidy up this place.” Many insects require leaf litter, birds nip seed from dried seed heads, and some butterfly life stages look like garden debris.
Tidying up is a balancing act between aesthetics and habitat. The first step in creating this balance ia allowing plants to re-seed throughout the bed. This creates a living tapestry and eliminates the need to mulch around every perennial.
The second step: give up control. The plants will tell you where they want to be. Say you pick a perfect spot for an aster in your garden. But, about a few feet to the left, there are micro-differences in the soil that create an even better spot. The seed will fall, germinate, and thrive in the best spot for the plant. The original plant may remain, or it may languish. No worries: they have it under control.
Each season plants will shift in response to the weather and soil. Follow their lead, tidy up after them as you need, fill gaps with new plants, and sit back and enjoy the show.
Here are 5 things you can do this spring to help make this happen:
- Trim perennials and gently rake out excess leaf litter in spring. If you see delicate seedlings popping their heads up, consider returning the blanket to them as they gradually end their long winter nap.
- Learn what the native seedlings look like so you don’t unwittingly weed them out. If you aren’t sure, let them be. Once they bloom, you will know what they are. Be sure to yank undesirables before they set seed.
- Do not over-apply mulch. The goal is to allow the plants to spread throughout the garden — mulch will inhibit this. A half inch or so to help preserve moisture and cool the roots of the plants is enough.
- Don’t use a pre-emergent herbicide (such as Preen) to keep weeds at bay – it will keep your native plants from spreading by seed.
- Let the plants tell you where they want to be. If you see a ‘hole’ in your garden, perhaps the plant you put there was not suited to the site. Replace with a different species.
Native plants occurred in the region before settlement by Europeans, are uniquely adapted to the soil and climate of the area, and play an important role in plant and animal communities.
If you would like to attract birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, or pollinators to your landscape, native plants are the way to go. These plants evolved with birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinators and provide the habitat and food they need in your own backyard.
Native plants were living here long before we arrived with our fertilizers and pruners. Once established, they provide 4 seasons of carefree beauty if they are properly sited.
Many beneficial insects require native plants for their habitat – whether it be food or shelter. Pollinating insects are essential to our own survival. One-third of all the food we eat has been created with the help of a pollinator. Insects themselves are essential to the ecosystem for all the services they provide, from decomposition to being food for predators.
There are native plants adapted to thrive in any condition from wet, soggy clay to dry, gravelly soil, and from hot sun to full shade. When well placed, once established they do not require supplmental watering, fertilizer or pesticides.
Native plants provide four seasons of pleasure, with flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, brilliant colors in the fall and interesting bark and twig patterns in the winter.
You will find striking blossoms, beautiful fall color and winter architecture. And they also attract a non-stop show of visiting butterflies, birds and beneficial insects.
Plant a native plant today! It’s one little thing you can do to make a difference.
The following are books we recommend. Please support your local book-sellers! We carry a small selection of books in the nursery. If you can’t find what you want locally, use these links to order from Amazon, we will get a small percentage of your purchase. Thank you for supporting local booksellers everywhere, and Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery.
Urban and Suburban Meadows: Bringing Meadowscaping to Big and Small Spaces
by Catherine Zimmerman
Practical, step by step info on creating a meadow in an urban or suburban setting.
Native Plants of the Northeast:
A Guide for Gardening and Conservation
by Donald J. Leopold
Color photos and entries on a good selection of ferns, grasses, perennials, trees and shrubs. A nice overall guide to native plants.
The American Woodland Garden:
Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest
by Rick Darke
Entries on various plants highlighting their ornamental value and their natural habitats. Outstanding photographs.
Trees Of Pennsylvania: A Complete Reference Guide
by Ann F. Rhoads and Timothy A. Block
A field guide and natural history of all the native and naturalized trees that grow in Pennsylvania. Maps of their geographic distribution; Information on native American uses of trees as well as wildlife value.
Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants
by William Cullina
Full color photographs of many woody plants; text includes cultural information as well as editorial comments.
Wildflowers: A Guide to Growing and Propagating Native Flowers of North America (The New England Wild Flower Society)
by William Cullina
Full color photographs of many perennial plants; text includes cultural information as well as editorial comments.
Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses: From Emerald Carpet to Amber Wave, Serene and Sensuous Plants for the Garden
by William Cullina
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants
by Michael Dirr
The ‘bible’ of woody plants. Line drawings, no color photos. Information on culture, cultivars, diseases and insects, landscape value, and Dirr’s inimitable editorial comments.
Landscaping With Native Trees
by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson
Color photographs and information on seasons of interest, problems, related species and culture. The front of the book contains an index with tree silhouettes, so if you have a general idea what shape of tree you want, you can zero right in on it.
A Gardener’s Guide to Native Plants of Northeastern Pennsylvania
by Geoffrey Mehl of the Pennystone Project
A comprehensive guide to the species native to the northeastern counties of PA.
Pennsylvania Native Plants / Perennials: Habitat and Culture
by Geoffrey Mehl of the Pennystone Project
Landscaping Revolution: Garden With Mother Nature, Not Against Her
by Andy Wasowski
Everything from alternative lawns and weed laws, to invasive plants, and information on specific plant species. Photos and cartoons, and enticing chapter titles such as “Homogenize Milk, Not Landscapes,” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Creeper?”
The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual
by Ann Rhoads and Timothy A. Block
A thorough listing of all the plant species known to grow in PA. Indicates endangered and threatened species, typical habitat, with some line drawing to aid in species identification.
Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens
by Doug Tallamy
Easy to read explanation of ecological interactions between plants and wildlife, from insects on up.
Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guide)
Color photos, description of invasive plant and the problems it creates, and suggested native alternatives.
Native Plant Resources-
Helpful information on native plants, sustainable ecology and conservation.
Gardening and Design Resources
Conservation and Horticulture Links