Sunday, April 2, 2017

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

Pulsatilla patens, Pasqueflower, blooming on the first day of spring, photo by Donna Duffy
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 Fact Sheets – particularly Native Trees for Colorado Landscapes; Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes;  and Native Herbaceous Perennials for Colorado Landscapes. 

In addition to Pulsatilla patens, here are five more fabulous perennials to consider as a starting point. All of these should be relatively easy to find in local nurseries.

Campanula rotundifolia, photo by Donna Duffy
Campanula rotundifolia (Harebells) – very adaptable, drought tolerant, slightly self-seeding, nodding blue flowers. This is the famous Bluebells of Scotland, perfectly happy growing in Colorado.

Ratibia columnifera, Photo by Donna Duffy
Ratibia columnifera (Prairie Coneflower) – drought tolerant, naturalizes, easy to establish, heavy bloomer. In my yard, this self-seeds very freely, so choose your planting locations with that in mind.

Penstemon virens, photo by Donna Duffy
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. Check your local nursery for other native Penstemons to add to your garden.

Sphaeralcea coccinea, photo by Donna Duffy
Sphaeralcea coccinea (Coppermallow) – adapts to clay soils, has vivid orange blooms in spring and summer.

Erigonum umbellatum, photo by Donna Duffy
Erigonum umbellatum (Sulphur flower) – has yellow flowers that go to seed and turn a rusty color, the foliage is red in fall and winter. This is one of the most common plants you'll see on your foothills hikes. Consider adding it to your yard for year round interest.
Go native!