Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Planting? Add Some Natives to Your Landscape! by Donna Duffy

Aquilegia caerulea (Colorado Columbine)
There is a growing trend among Colorado gardeners to incorporate native plants, trees and shrubs into their landscapes. Indeed, in some areas, native plantings may be required by law, covenant or policy. There are so many good reasons to include native plants in the landscape! They attract pollinators, butterflies and birds, they are adaptable to poor soil, and they typically require less water. 

To get ideas about which plants to include in your garden, check out native plant landscapes at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Kendrick Lakes in Lakewood, and Centennial Gardens at Elitches. Another great resource is CSU Extension – particularly Fact Sheet 7.421, Native Trees for Colorado Landscapes; Fact Sheet 7.422, Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes; and Fact Sheet 7.242, Native Herbaceous Perennials for Colorado Landscapes.

Here are five fabulous perennials to consider as a starting point. All of these should be relatively easy to find in local nurseries.

Campanula rotundifolia
Campanula rotundifolia (Harebells) – very adaptable, drought tolerant, slightly self-seeding, nodding blue flowers.

Ratibia columnifera

Ratibia columnifera (Prairie Coneflower) – drought tolerant, naturalizes, easy to establish, heavy bloomer

Penstemon virens

Penstemon virens (Blue Mist Penstemon)
There are many beautiful, hardy Penstemons that grow well in urban landscapes. This smaller growing species with dainty blue spikes blooms in late spring.

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Sphaeralcea coccinea (Coppermallow) – adapts to clay soils, has vivid orange blooms in spring and summer

Erigonum umbellatum

Erigonum umbellatum (Sulphur flower) – has yellow flowers that go to seed and turn a rusty color, the foliage is red in fall and winter

 Go native!