We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Native Understory Trees: Top Trio for Thrilling Spring Trifecta


Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), redbud (Cercis canadensis) and dogwood (Cornus Florida) are rockstars of the native tree world. They really are. Spring blooms unfurl from these smaller trees in spectacularly dramatic fashion.  All are easy to grow and easy to fit in. They take shade and sunnier spots too. Like legendary musicians, these trees keep on … Continue reading Native Understory Trees: Top Trio for Thrilling Spring Trifecta

Maryland and Virginia Native Plants: Gardening & Fun


Today’s Nuts for Natives features a somewhat random assortment of gardening happenings and projects and hopefully something fun for you. Native plant gardening expert Barbara Ellis Speaks this Saturday (March 7th) in Central Maryland Barbara Ellis literally wrote the book about gardening in the Chesapeake. She is speaking in Severna Park Saturday at a Unity Gardens event. Unity Gardens enthusiastically … Continue reading Maryland and Virginia Native Plants: Gardening & Fun

Layering Native Evergreens for Winter


Winter is the perfect time to spot where your garden may need evergreens for interest and structure.  Hollies (Ilex opaca), Eastern red cedar (Juniper Virginiana), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) are awesome native trees that sustain your local birds, insects and wildlife and are easy to grow.  These are large trees.  Native … Continue reading Layering Native Evergreens for Winter

Chesapeake Native Shrubs and Trees: Witch Hazel Winter Wonder


Garden blooms in December?  In the eastern U.S., native witch hazel, “Hamamelis virginiana,” flowers with wispy yellow papery bursts of pale yellow in late fall and early winter.  These intriguing shrubs and small trees have a branching structure which can be quite architectural.  The fall color is gorgeous.  In the Chesapeake, witch hazels grow easily and … Continue reading Chesapeake Native Shrubs and Trees: Witch Hazel Winter Wonder

Last Perennials Standing: Adding Winter Structure to your Chesapeake Garden


The days we were urged to cut back perennials and “do the fall clean up” to prepare garden beds for winter are quickly disappearing. Modern advice: leave a layer of shredded leaves in beds rather than mulch; it’s more beneficial for soils and over wintering beneficial insects.  Don’t cut back perennials; leave stems for insects … Continue reading Last Perennials Standing: Adding Winter Structure to your Chesapeake Garden

Chesapeake Native Autumn


“The tints of autumn…a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.” John Greenleaf Whittier Sometimes it’s good to sit back and take it all in … For more info: About the red bud (Cercis canadensis) with seed pods pictured at the top. About the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) pictured in … Continue reading Chesapeake Native Autumn

Four Fall Foliage Favorites


Amsonia (Amsonia hubrichtii) is an easy to grow perennial that needs virtually no care. It blooms with small pale blue flowers in spring. This Amsonia has incredible texture all summer long and blazing yellow fall color. It thrives in full sun yet will tolerate partial shade. It’s not fussy about soil and moisture. During summer, … Continue reading Four Fall Foliage Favorites

October Chesapeake Bloomers


Autumn is awesome in the Chesapeake!  And so it is also true for Chesapeake Gardens.  For those of us who desire year round garden interest, these nine native perennials are still doing their stuff in early October.  Sure, the blooms are more sparse and the flowers aren’t as vibrant but they still add color, structure … Continue reading October Chesapeake Bloomers

Joe Pye Weed


Joe Pye Weed is a plant in need of a rebranding! This perennial has a totally unfortunate name but many positive attributes.  It blooms in late August and September – always a good thing.  It’s easy to grow as long as it gets a couple of hours of sun a day.  It’s a pollinator magnet.  … Continue reading Joe Pye Weed

Clematis for the Chesapeake


In early September, small white flowers appear in clouds where Clematis Virginiana is blooming. The flowers create quite a scene en masse. This is a twining, perennial vine that loves to billow along a fence or wall.  It’s pretty easy to grow as it tolerates sun, part shade or shade and has average water requirements. There … Continue reading Clematis for the Chesapeake

Mighty Mountain Mint


Planting mint was one of the first things I did as a new gardener. Fun at first … it grew and grew and, then, as you probably know, oh no!  It went everywhere.  If you are looking for mint for your watermelon salad or iced tea, plant the herb in a container and enjoy.  For … Continue reading Mighty Mountain Mint

Hello Yellow


Yellow native blooms abound across the Chesapeake watershed in August. These are easy to care for, pollinator friendly perennials for sale near you that are fun to grow! The native perennial sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus) above is a loosely growing perennial that thrives in part shade and is tolerant of all sorts of soils.  It can grow … Continue reading Hello Yellow

Super Summer Sweet


Summer sweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a star for our Chesapeake gardens. This deciduous shrub blooms in the heat of summer with fantastic fragrance.  Summer sweet grows and blooms with white or pink flowers in full sun or part shade.  It’s easy care and rarely needs pruning.  It would make a handsome hedge. Bees and butterflies … Continue reading Super Summer Sweet

Astilbe: Plant This or That


In early June, spires of asian astilbes (Astilbe chinensis), above left and below, are majestic. The orderly whites, pinks and lavenders thrive in moist soil in shade. The native alternative has a slightly less regal name — goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus). Fortunately, the plant is far more inspiring than its name. Like astilbe, native goatsbeard, below, … Continue reading Astilbe: Plant This or That

Hydrangeas: Plant This or That


If you are gardening with natives, you have two hydrangeas to choose from: the oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) and the smooth or wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). The smooth hydrangea is much more similar in shape and flower to the iconic blue and pink asian hydrangeas we all know. The blooms on the native smooth hydrangea … Continue reading Hydrangeas: Plant This or That

Hydrangeas: Plant This or That


May gardens in the Chesapeake watershed bring hydrangeas.  Blue, white and pink big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are beautiful ornamentals, native to Asia. Two hydrangeas native to the southeast are the oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia) and the wild or smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Anabelle’).  Today, the oakleaf! Oakleaf hydrangeas are truly a four-season plant.  Pale, minty leaves … Continue reading Hydrangeas: Plant This or That

Siberian Bugloss: Plant This or That


Blue is a favorite early spring bloom color, whether it be Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), a favorite perennial at the top of the photo above, lungwort (Pulmonaria), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) or grape hyacinth (Muscari ameniacum) bulbs. Virginia bluebells (Mertensia Virginica), shown in the lower half of the photo above, are the native choice. Virginia bluebells … Continue reading Siberian Bugloss: Plant This or That

Barberry: Plant This or That


Barberries (Berberis thunbergii) have brilliant red fall color and, as a result, were widely sold and planted throughout the Chesapeake watershed.  They also escaped our gardens and are widely considered invasive. The good news is there is a terrific native alternative … the blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Atlantic’).  Blueberries have bright red fall color and more. Small … Continue reading Barberry: Plant This or That

Pansies: Plant This or That


March in Chesapeake country means pansies at markets, nurseries, and grocery stores.  Pansies were my grandmother’s favorite so I am partial to them too. Another option: take it up a native notch by using perennials and evergreens in containers to add flair and save effort over the longterm. The container above (and below) includes Christmas … Continue reading Pansies: Plant This or That

Plant This or That: Daffodils


Dare I say it … there is a native alternative to the daffodil (Narcissus)!  Yes, I know, I tread on dangerous ground now …lol. But, really, there are some great additions you can make to your Chesapeake spring garden. Early spring is one of those times when natives can be really critical … pollinators need … Continue reading Plant This or That: Daffodils