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Tips for the Compleat Gardener: Fields are asplash with native color


Here in the Delaware Valley it has been a wet season, not as bad as 2018 but tough on all those perennials that prefer drier feet – like Lavender and most plants with a dusty blue hue to their leaves.

Sage loves the desert. Many field plants tolerate varied conditions. This is a picture of a Mexican hat flower, Ratibida columnifera, one of several native perennials I found at Gino’s Native plants in Wrightstown on my way back from the Wrightstown Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

I had been to Russell’s Nursery in Richboro where owner Alan nurtures several varieties of native plants this past week and found the nursery has downsized and become more specialized, worth a visit. Alan is a fount of information about plants.

This time of year stop by whatever nursery is closest to you and look for bargains to be had, that scraggly, pot-bound perennial will flourish in your garden and reward you for seasons to come if you give it the chance.

On Pine Road in Pineville the Iron Creek Nursery has some amazing varieties of heuchera, leaves that are tangerine purple or bright lime green, darkly- patterned swirls of green and purple and many more. The gardener can plant a mosaic of color that is semi-present the year around depending on the winter but swelling to vibrancy first thing in spring.

Here in the Delaware Valley the Heuchera family is fairly deer-resistant, tolerant of all kinds of conditions and pleasing to behold. Go check out the varieties at Iron Creek.

The inventory at both Russell’s and Gino’s includes a variety of the native Liatris, a natural prairie dweller that cohabitates with black-eyed Susan, rudbeckias, achilleas (which are also known as yarrow or sneezewort), coreopsis. Make your lawn into a field of wildflowers to draw in and nurture the pollinators. You will save on gas for lawn mowing and bring joy into your life. Native plants are always available at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve near New Hope with lots of free information about use and appropriate conditions for planting in your space as well as the opportunity to see the plants actually growing.

This has been a crazy wet spring, usually gardens and shrubs should be planted by the end of June or late September but this year the ground is deeply wet, welcoming the transplant so unless we start to have a serious drought I would keep planting, making new gardens, using organic methods so your garden welcomes butterflies and bees and all the rest of the creatures we unknowingly depend on.

It is amazing how the annual application of compost to the soil makes the garden increasingly beautiful and healthy.

It is an interesting summer in terms of insects, the fireflies seem enormous but maybe the perception is enhanced when the flash reflects off wet leaves. The presence or absence of fireflies indicates the choice to use poisons in your living environment … or not.

The gnats have been intense, throwing themselves against the gardener’s face in frenzy, especially when rain is coming. A woman I worked with began wearing a burning stick of incense in her hat, which did keep away the flying pests and me too because I wasn’t into the smoke.

Spray your budding daylilies with deer repellent daily. It is so disappointing when you notice buds and the next day they are gone.

Mostly, enjoy the moment.