BEE a Part of the Million Pollinator Gardens Challenge!

Did you know that June is National Pollinator Month? In celebration of the many contributions that are made by our pollinators, the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge was initiated by the National Wildlife Federation to recognize and encourage the planting of pollinator gardens. Wild About Ewing, a joint program of Ewing’s Green Team and Environmental Commission, asks all Ewing gardeners to “Bee” Part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and answer this call to action. Help preserve the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators and create wildlife friendly gardens and landscapes.

To answer the challenge and BEEcome a part of the solution, just follow these three simple steps.

Plant something for pollinators

  • Plant NATIVE plants that provide nectar and pollen sources
  • Provide a water source
  • Situate gardens in sunny areas with wind breaks
  • Create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants
  • Establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season
  • Eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

If you have followed these simple principles in your garden then, take the next step and

Register Your Garden at

Register your Garden to BEE Counted. BEE sure to add a photo of your garden or landscape to the S.H.A.R.E map. Anyone and any size garden can join in the campaign to reach one million sites for pollinators!

Don’t forget the next step because we need to encourage every property owner to help sustain pollinators and all wildlife on their properties.

Spread the Word and get others to join in!

Keep the Challenge Growing! Invite others to your garden and talk to everyone about the importance of pollinators and how you can help.

Certify Your Garden

To learn more and join with us, we encourage Ewing gardeners to follow the steps listed above to create a wildlife friendly garden and then certify your garden or yard in the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. Browse this site to learn more about Ewing’s Community Wildlife Habitat project and BEEcome a part of the solution!

Planting: A New Perspective – A Book Review

By Glenn Steinberg

Piet Oudolf & Noël Kingsbury’s Planting:  A New Perspective

This book has several drawbacks:

  1. It isn’t specifically about gardening for wildlife.
  2. It’s written by Europeans about (mostly) European gardens.
  3. It’s really more for professional landscapers than for individual, private gardeners.

At the same time, it’s an interesting book about garden design, a topic that most of us who seek to plant gardens that are welcoming to wildlife often know little about.

Once you’ve decided to garden for wildlife, you still have to decide what you want your garden to look like.  You have to decide how wild you want it to look and how aesthetically pleasing it should be to you, your neighbors, and the world at large.  Planting:  A New Perspective offers some advice about how to design the look of your garden – both abstract philosophical foundations and concrete, practical strategies.

Late in the book, Kingsbury lays out his philosophy of garden design:  “My own gardening is very much about planting and then allowing natural processes of growth, birth and death to take over, or at least to proceed under the eagle eye of my management.  The result is a far denser canopy than is considered normal for perennials…. [A] density approaching that found in natural plant communities is far more resilient than traditional ones with spaces between plants.  Maintenance will be also reduced” (p. 236).  Kingsbury, Oudolf, and designers like them “stress ecological process and dynamism – the idea that plantings will change over time and that the role of the gardener or manager is to direct these processes in a way which preserves or enhances their visual qualities and other desired features, such as species diversity” (p. 237).

So, if you’re rethinking the look of your garden (especially in the direction of a wilder, more natural appearance), Planting:  A New Perspective will give you much food for thought.

Other similar books to consider include Noël Kingsbury’s Natural Gardening in Small Spaces (Portland, OR:  Timber Press, 2003) and Thomas Rainer and Claudia West’s Planting in a Post-Wild World:  Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes (Portland, OR:  Timber Press, 2015).

Interestingly, all these books have come out of Europe rather than the U.S.  I’m hoping that a good book or two on natural garden design by and for American gardeners will follow soon.

Bibliographic Overview

Authors: Piet Oudolf & Noël Kingsbury
Title: Planting:  A New Perspective
Publisher: Timber Press, Portland, OR
Publication Date:  2013
ISBN: 9781604693706

Identify Common Backyard Birds

Check out this wonderful YouTube video on identifying common backyard birds.  It helps you to identify common wintertime backyard feeder birds and was designed for use by both new and amateur birders.  Visual characteristics and bird calls are provided to enable identification.  Suggested feeder food is provided for some species.

Plant List from Gardens with Buzz Presentation

Wild About Ewing was extremely fortunate to have naturalist, writer, photographer, and educator Mary Anne Borge present to Ewing gardeners. Mary Anne is the Associate Editor for Butterfly Gardener magazine, a publication of the North American Butterfly Association; an instructor and naturalist at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania; a Pennsylvania Master Naturalist, and the team leader for Lambertville Goes Wild. Her photographs have been featured in numerous publications.  She shares her love of nature through her writing and photography at

On March 25th she gave a presentation at the Ewing Library to a filled room entitled Gardens with Buzz.   Her plant recommendations for gardening for wildlife follows:

Common Name Latin Name
Aromatic Aster Symphyotricum oblongifolium
Bee-balm Monarda didyma
Blue False Indigo Baptisia australis
Blue Wood Aster Symphyotricum cordifolium
Bluets Houstonia caerulea
Boneset Eupatorium species
Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa
Canada Anemone Anemone canadensis
Canada Violet Viola canadensis
Cardinal-flower Lobelia cardinalis
Cinnamon Fern Osmunda cinnamomea
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Downy Yellow Violet Viola pubescens
Golden Alexander Zizia aurea
Grass-leaved Goldenrod Euthamia graminifolia
Grass-leaved Goldenrod Euthamia graminifolia
Green-headed Coneflower Rudbeckia laciniata
Helen’s Flower Helenium autumnale
Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum
Hoary Mountain Mint Pycnanthemum incanum
Indian Hemp Apocynum cannabinum
Jacob’s Ladder Polemonium reptans
Joe-pye-weed Eutrochium purpureum
Lowbush Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium
New England Aster Symphyotricum novae-angliae
New York Ironweed Vernonia noveboracensis
Purple Giant Hyssop Agastache scrophulariifolia
Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia
Short-toothed Mountain Mint Pycnanthemum muticum
Short-toothed Mountain Mint Pycnanthemum muticum
Showy Coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida
Spring Beauty Claytonia virginica
Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata
Viola pubescens Viola sororia
Virginia Bluebells Mertensia virginica
Virginia Mountain Mint Pycnanthemum virginianum
Virginia Spiderwort Tradescantia virginiana
Water Hemlock Cicuta bulbifera
White Beardtongue Penstemon digitalis
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa
Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis
Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum
Common Name Latin Name
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida
Gray Dogwood Cornus racemosa
Ninebark Physocarpus opulifolius
Spicebush Lindera benzoin
Wild Black Cherry Prunus serotina
Common Name Latin Name
Dutchman’s Pipevine Aristolochia macrophylla
Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens

Gardens with Buzz

Part II of Our Gardening for Wildlife Series

Wild About Ewing! is extremely excited to announce that they will sponsor Part II of an introductory series to the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat Project and how gardeners in Ewing are providing much needed wildlife habitat while getting credit for both themselves and their community at the Ewing Branch Library, 61 Scotch Road, Ewing on Monday, March 25th at 7 pm. Mary Anne Borge, a local naturalist, writer, photographer and educator, will tell you what you can you do to attract birds to your garden and which plants are best to entice bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects to make their homes with you. She will also share maintenance techniques that are the most hospitable for these garden visitors and residents.

Mary Anne Borge is a naturalist, writer, photographer, and educator. She is the Associate Editor for Butterfly Gardener magazine, a publication of the North American Butterfly Association; an instructor and naturalist at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania; a Pennsylvania Master Naturalist, and the team leader for Lambertville Goes Wild. Her photographs have been featured in numerous publications. She shares her love of nature through her writing and photography at

Part 1 of the series, entitled Gardening for Wildlife in the Suburban Landscape, was presented to the community on February 25th and we were thrilled to see so many interested Ewing gardeners. We hope that this will be start of a great gardening season for wildlife this spring and for the future!

Date: Monday, March 25th
Time: 7pm
Location: Ewing Branch Library, 61 Scotch Road
Cost: Free and open to the public

Wild About Ewing! Gardening for Wildlife in the Suburban Landscape

Wild About Ewing! will sponsor an introduction to the National Wildlife Federation’s Community Wildlife Habitat Project and how gardeners in Ewing are providing much needed wildlife habitat while getting credit for both themselves and their community at the Mercer County Library, Ewing Branch, 61 Scotch Road, Ewing on Monday, February 25th at 7 pm. Joanne Mullowney, Chair of the Ewing Green Team and lifetime gardener, and Glenn Steinberg, Chair of the English Department at TCNJ and long-term wildlife gardener, will introduce the National Wildlife Federation’s program, explain how to work the program to certify your garden, as well as how Ewing as a community is working the program.

Why We Need to Bring Nature Home to Our Own Backyards

Sixty percent of the world’s wildlife populations have been lost in just over the last forty years. SIXTY percent! That is the estimate from the latest Living Planet Report[1] published recently by the World Wildlife Fund. We have also personally taken note of the loss of local wildlife. Where are the boundless flocks of migrating birds that filled the autumn skies of our youth, the omnipresent lightning bugs that lit up our backyard summer evenings, the bug-splattered windshields from our driving trips, the butterflies, the bees, the bats…?

Habitat loss from suburban expansion and industrial agriculture are key. Suburban neighborhoods have exchanged healthy native habitats for vast stretches of manicured lawns which contribute little of ecological value. Industrial agriculture also plays a heavy role in unsustainable loss of habitat while also promoting synthetic chemicals and monocropping. We depend upon wildlife for critical ecosystem services and we wonder if we are destroying our planet’ s ability to support our way of life.

Joanne Mullowney states: “As a life-long gardener, my garden has always brought me a great deal of enjoyment and peace. Since I’ve started “re-wildling” my garden, I’ve realized what a sterile environment I’ve provided in the past. Gardening for wildlife has given me a truer enjoyment of the natural world and created a deeper connection to nature.”

How You Can Help

If you too are alarmed about the extent of this crisis and wonder what you can do to ensure that your children and grandchildren will be able enjoy the natural world as we did, we invite you to follow the example of members of Wild About Ewing, volunteers from Ewing’s Green Team and Environmental Commission who work to promote wider use of native plants and sustainable gardening practices, key components required to certify Ewing as a Community Wildlife Habitat recognized by the National Wildlife Federation. To become certified in the program, Ewing needs to accumulate 250 points in certified gardens from private properties, public spaces and schools. Each garden should support our native birds, insects, small mammals… by providing the essential life sustaining requirements of food, water, cover and places to raise young.

Members of Wild About Ewing are taking action for vanishing wildlife species and all Ewing property owners are encouraged to “bring nature home” on their own properties and join them in making a difference.

Wild About Ewing is conducting a public outreach campaign to property owners in Ewing to encourage them and assist them in certifying their properties. More information is available on the group’s website, and the Ewing Green Team and Environmental Commission’s Facebook pages.

[1] Living Planet Report – 2018: Aiming Higher. Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A.(Eds). World Wildlife Federation, Gland, Switzerland. 2018.

Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East – A Book Review

by Glenn Steinberg

Carolyn Summers’ Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East (New Brunswick:  Rutgers University Press, 2010) is an excellent book.  It begins by laying out the reasons to garden with native plants (which the book insistently calls “indigenous plants”).  Its reasons include providing habitat for birds, bees, and bugs, as well as making use of fantastic indigenous plants that simply don’t get enough play in the big-box nursery business.  The book also discusses the jargon of the nursery business and the implications of that jargon for the gardener who wants to be ecologically responsible (such as how to know when cultivars and hybrids successfully function like native plants and when they don’t).
It spends considerable time talking about native alternatives to popular invasive species (such as Norway Maple, Bradford Pear, and Forsythia).  The most interesting part of the book (to me) was a lengthy section on how to use native species in popular garden designs (including the street tree, traditional foundation plantings, a Japanese garden, and a cottage garden).  Another section discusses how to mimic natural landscapes in your  garden (such as woodlands, meadows, sandplain grasslands, heaths, and salt marshes).  Needless to say, the book covers a lot of ground, and for that reason, my one criticism of it is that there were times when I’d have liked more depth and less breadth.  But overall, it is an excellent book for anyone interested in incorporating more native plants into the garden.

The Ecological Benefits of the Not So Perfect Yard

Our annual plea for sustainable fall landscaping care has been recycled below.

by Joanne Mullowney

The first frost has come and gone and today it is sunny, humidity-free and gorgeous.  We love autumn.  We are finally leaving the hot, sticky days of summer behind for the cooler, more breathable days of fall.  Soon the neighborhood trees will blanket the ground with their last gift of the growing season.  This seasonal leaf drop can recharge your landscape and create habitat for wildlife.  So, don’t treat your leaf litter as trash, but rather as the gift that it truly is to the millions of tiny creatures that are a part of our gardens’ ecosystems.

The Benefits of Leaf Litter

Raking up and disposing of our leaves, chopping down dead flower stalks and grasses all contribute to a manicured appearance which we have been conditioned to think of as the norm.  However, in nature, trees don’t drop their bounty at the curb for pick up, but rather they blanket the earth while providing a host of ecological benefits.

Leaves provide an insulating winter cover in the garden for plants and those tiny creatures that sustain life in the garden.   We encourage you to mulch with fallen leaves.  Wherever possible, leave them to decompose where they fall in your garden beds.  Or settle the leaves under the branches of your shrubs. Give it a year or so and your leaf litter will have broken down while providing mulch and increasing the soil’s water retention abilities.

You can also rake out some of the leaves from the beds that are simply too much and might smother tender plants and cause them to rot over the winter. Add them to the compost pile or the leaf pile on the lawn while the rest remain in the beds. Then take your mulching mower and chop them up into small pieces.  Rake up most of the chopped leaves and place them back in the garden around shrubs and plants.   Now that they are greatly reduced in volume they contribute to the more manicured look that suburban mores demand.  The remainder can stay on your lawn and decompose there. Do this as needed until the end of the season and the leaves will break down over the winter providing your soil with valuable nutrients all the while enhancing wildlife habitat.  One incidental benefit is that of reduction of Township resources allotted to fall cleanup, saving taxpayer dollars.

While you might think that this leaves the yard looking a little less than perfect, you are nourishing the landscape and providing valuable resources and habitat for wildlife.

The Benefit of Providing Habitat

This somewhat messy yard contributes yet another important benefit – habitat.  While not a traditional concern of the average gardener, we believe it should be.  Did you know that despite its not so perfect look, leaf litter provides an important foraging space and shelter for a wide variety of birds, small mammals and insects?  Also providing benefit is the untrimmed garden where ladybugs and lacewings reside in native grasses and pollinating bees settle in hollow plant stems.  Butterflies and moths winter in chrysalides on the ground and baby spiders hide out amid the decaying plant stems. Birds feed from dried seed heads in winter.

Some wildlife use the leaf litter and other dead vegetation to insulate them from winter’s chill, while others, such as earthworms feed on the litter, breaking it into smaller pieces. Bacteria and fungi in turn convert theses smaller pieces into nutrients which then sustain neighboring plants. They in turn help support biodiversity by becoming food themselves. Toads, beetles, ladybugs and much more also live in your backyard’s leaf litter. Each is an integral part of the food web.

Support Wildlife Thru Your Not So Perfect Yard

We recommend the following practices from the Habitat Network to help you in your quest to provide habitat and reduce your ecological impact.  Adopting good practices in the fall also leaves you well set for spring in the garden.

  • Leave your leaves on the property (Leaves are too valuable a resource to dispose of!)
  • Leave them in the garden beds when you can, mow them or compost them.
  • Allow dried flower heads of some of your garden favorites to stay standing in your garden.
  • The dark stems and flower heads of some of our native flowers look gorgeous against the snow and nothing is more exciting than seeing our small winged friends feasting upon the seed heads.
  • Let your ornamental grasses grow tall and seed.
  • Don’t cut down your ornamental grasses. They provide shelter for the insects that pollinate our gardens and feed fledgling birds and other wildlife. Not to mention that they also look fabulous swaying in the wind.  They make a fabulous addition to the fall (and winter) landscape.
  • Build a brush pile with fallen branches instead of removing them.
  • If you build it, they will come. This author no sooner established a small brush pile in a back corner in the yard and it was inhabited.
  • Forget the chemicals. (This one is not hard. Just do it!)
  • Finally, don’t be in a rush to begin your garden cleanup in the spring. Wait until after several 50℉ days to begin, when spring has really arrived, allowing overwintering pollinators to move on first.  You gave them a home all winter; don’t yank it away from them too soon.

Vanishing Habitat

As habitat for wildlife is decreasing, so too is wildlife, and at an alarming rate.  A recent National Wildlife Federation newsletter states:  More than half the world’s wildlife has vanished since 1970.1  This includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.  Quite simply, we’re destroying our planet’s ability to support our way of life.

Wildlife needs habitat to survive and we need to do a better job balancing the need to provide habitat for animals’ survival against commercial forces.  Habitat requires food, water and shelter and even a small yard can support birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, and small animals thru proper landscaping and landscaping habits.  They need more than lawn and it is important to provide trees, shrubs, and other plants (particularly native varieties and a topic for another post) that shelter and feed wildlife.

We ask you to adopt a somewhat messy yard and eschew the leaf disposal.  Keep your leaves so that they can decompose naturally in your own yard and support the butterflies and other small insects that live in the leaf litter.  During this season of renewal so essential to preserving the next generation of wildlife, we invite you to join with us and pledge to garden messy.  Then put your feet up and enjoy the season.

Printable brochure of sustainable fall landscaping tips.

  1. Source:  Living Planet Report 2016 by World Wildlife Fund


Noah’s Garden – A Book Review

by Glenn Steinberg

In Noah’s Garden, Sara Stein argues for creating suburban landscapes that allow for greater biodiversity and wildlife. It isn’t a new argument, but she’s very forceful, even eloquent. For example, she writes, “Spaciousness to us means not only roomy in area but visually open, expansive, uncluttered, uniform in texture, low in growth, without impediment to view. To others [i.e., wild animals], ‘spacious’ is closer to the biblical paradox, ‘My father’s house has many mansions.’ The diversity and complexity of vegetation creates a spacious landscape for animals by offering each kind the opportunity to earn its living in its unique way. Remove the pheasant’s cover or the butterfly’s flower and you have erased its space. The less variety of habitat the landscape offers, the less space there is until, when all is mowed, even an expanse the size of a golf course becomes just a hole in the world” (p. 46). What we see as open space is nothing but “a hole in the world” to wildlife.

Sometimes it’s as though Sara Stein is speaking for me, saying the words that I’ve often thought but haven’t gotten around to articulating yet. At one point, Stein writes about an Eastern Bluebird that takes up residence on her property, and she says, “The Bluebird had assessed our real estate. He had noted the lay of the land: the availability of water, the potential for insects in the meadow, the protection of surrounding trees. I’m proud that our property rates a bird’s approval. But I wish its richness to be valued by humans, too. I want us as a culture to depart from the old tradition of evaluating land according to what can be extracted from it as a commodity or abstracted from it as social asset and turn instead toward a new tradition of valuing land by the life it harbors” (p. 243).  Noah’s Garden isn’t a how-to guide for creating a wildlife garden, but it’s a welcome exploration of the philosophy and rationale for creating such gardens — without a lot of jargon but with a lot of heart.

Native Plants in the ESCC Courtyard Pollinator Garden

We are delighted to report once again on the progress made this season in the new ESCC Courtyard Pollinator Garden.  From small plugs just three months ago, we now have plants that are growing strongly with some small amount of blooms.  We should explain that when you start your garden with small perennial plugs, they tend to put most of their energy the first season into developing their root systems and whatever is left into flowering.  This strategy will enable them to better weather the first winter.   The gardeners among you have undoubtedly heard of the adage about perennials: “the first year they sleep, the second year they creep. and the third year they leap.”   So, we are delighted with the small floral display and eagerly anticipate next year.

We thought that we would share the list of the natives that we planted.  They were all chosen for their high wildlife value.

  • Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) This extremely adaptable woodland spring bloomer thrives in a variety of conditions.  It handles all light conditions from full sun, to part shade, to shade..  It also will will thrive in a range of moisture conditions.  It has red and yellow bell-like flowers with backward-pointed nectar tubes, making them a hummingbird and pollinator favorite.  It will self-seed freely in optimum conditions, naturalizing to form large colonies.  It is a great choice to support early wildlife.
  • Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) Like the columbine, wild geranium also thrives in a variety of conditions, making it extremely useful anywhere in the garden.  It also works in a full spectrum of light environments and handles dry to medium soil moistures.  Lavendar blooms grace the plant in May and June and the plant works for the front of the border as it is on the shorter side (1 – 2′).    It retains is attractive foliage throughout the growing season.  It is long -lived and will spread to form nice clumps.
  • Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) What native garden does not boast Coreopsis within its borders?  The cheerful golden-yellow blooms last for weeks in the full sun garden.  It doesn’t need much water, thriving on the drier end of the moisture spectrum.  It blooms in June and July and does well near the front of the bordebluesr with it’s shorter 2 – 3′ stems.
  • Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica) Labrador violet was chosen for the shady end of the bed, handling full sun as well as part shade.  It is a tiny plant, only 3 – 6″tall and blooms from June – August.  It is a pale bluish purple.  It is beloved by cardinals and other song birds who eat the seeds and is also a larval food source for fritillary butterflies.
  • Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) Great Blue Lobelia is a late summer, early fall bloomer.  It has a spiky aspect and is covered in blue flowers that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.  It enjoys full sun to part shade and soils on the moister side.  It is an excellent choice for a rain garden.  This is a lovely choice for those of us who love blue in the garden, usually in short supply.
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)  This popular native abounds in our local gardens, and for good reason.  It blooms profusely in mid to late summer ((July – September) and is a great nectar sources for butterflies, bees  and hummingbirds.  New Jersey’s state bird, the American Goldfinch, as well as other birds, love the seedheads, so be sure to leave them on.  They plant loves full sun, but will bloom in part shade.  It thrives in all soil types and likes it on the dry to medium side.  It is a medium/tall plant, growing 3 – 4′ tall.  The plant has been extensively hybridized with a wide array of colors.  However, their value to wildlife is questionable and we wonder “do native cultivars provide the same ecological function in nature?”  If a sterile cultivar that does not produce seeds, the straight species  undoubtedly has the best wildlife value.
  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) Black-eyed Susan is a garden favorite and for good reason. The bright yellow blooms are a charming and cheerful addition to any garden and the plant self seeds and blooms extravagently and lastingly.  It has great wildlife value, extended at the end of its blooming season by the seedheads which are enjoyed by finches and other birds.   It handles most soil and moisture types and enjoys full sun to part sun conditions.  It’s 1 – 3′ stems are covered in blooms from June through September.  And, if you leave the stems standing at the end of the season, they not only provide high wildlife value for the birds, but their blackened stems look fantastic against the winter snow.
  • Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) Bergamot, aka Bee Balm, is a well loved North American natives that is used extensively in our gardens, and for good reason.  The lavender pink flowers attract bees and butterflies and possibly hummingbirds.  It likes full to part sun and all soil types and moistures.  It can range from 2 – 5′ in height and blooms from July through September.  A member of the mint family, it spreads readily, but not obnoxiously.
  • Mistflower (Eupatorium coelestinum) Mistflower is one of our new favorite plants. It grows from 1 -3′ high and is covered in small blue-violet flowers from late summer until frost.  It likes moisture and does well in a rain garden.  It likes a part shaded location, but will handle full sun when given sufficient moisture.  It is a pollinator magnet and is covered in bees and other pollinators when in bloom.  It is also known as Wild, or Hardy Argeratum.
  • Blue Stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) Goldenrod is a wonderful addition to the late season garden. It’s bright yellow blooms attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators in August and September.   It enjoys full sun to part shade and a full range of soil types.  Goldenrod likes soil conditions on the drier side, thriving in dry to medium soils.  There are numerous varieties which you should investigate depending upon your garden conditions.  Goldenrod does NOT cause hay fever, as reported.  Some varieties can spread aggressively, but have always been easy to pull out.
  • Sky Blue Aster (Aster azureus) Native Asters are the quintessential fall garden favorite.  The plant is covered in blue blooms from August through October and enjoys full sun to part shade conditions.  They, too, like it on the drier side.  They are a wonderful late season treat for the birds and other pollinators.  They can get a bit leggy and might be best served with a Memorial Day and Independence Day pruning.
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)  We went a little light on our grasses in the courtyard garden, opting for more flowers with our budget $.  However, Switchgrass provides excellent habitat for birds and is reputed to stand up over the winter better than all other grasses.  We will see.  It likes full sun, but a wide range of soil and moisture conditions.  It is tall, growing from 3 – 6′ and blooms in August and September.  It turns straw gold in the fall.
  • Pink Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) A flat of the Monarch Butterfly larval host plant was donated by the Farnham family.  It is very popular will all kinds of pollinators, including moths, butterflies of all types, bumble bees and even, occasionally, a hummingbird.  Asclepias prefers full sun in all soil types on the moister side making it an excellent addition to your rain garden.  It is tall, growing from 3 – 5′.  In June and July it is covered with red/pink flowers.   The plant provides late season interest from the seed pods that develop following bloom.   If you want to join in the effort to save the Monarch butterfly, be sure to plant some in your garden.

Come and take a look at our garden.  If you have any questions, please email them to