What is it?

There a lot of local nurseries and garden centers I used to like to frequent, and

Native Tiarella (foamflower). Note: it's GREEN.

having ordered plants from a website once, I now receive gardening catalogs from a couple dozen purveyors of mail order plants.  In my city gardens, the world of color, texture, and form were available to me:  a dark leaf over here, something ‘warm’ over there;  I planted umpteen foofillion Something var. whatever and This x. that.   I could have whatever I wanted from any nursery or catalog. Ahhhh. Good times.  So long, color; Adios, texture. Now I cannot have a hybrid or a variation.  My plants have to be native, and when it comes to native plants it seems I can have any color I want, as long as it’s green.

Tiarella var. "Jeepers Creepers." A plant I can't have.

As I develop a planting scheme, it is a fairly easy task in the information age to say, ‘I need a mounding plant or an evergreen broadleaf shrub:’ I use lists from the Washington Native Plant Society, define a characteristic, look up a photo, select a plant.  If I am lucky I can find a supplier.  Knowing what I’d like to have, easy; figuring a substitute, harder; finding and acquiring it: harder still.

But the most difficult thing of all:  figuring out what I already have.  I can tell the difference between vine maple and a mountain ash, and not only because there are a thousand naturally occurring vine maples and only one ash.  They just look different.  But a slide alder and a red alder?  Presumably I have both, but I’ll probably never know.  I have purchased native goat’s beard, bleeding heart, and columbine.  The crowns of each young plant look

These naturally occur on my property, looking like a Tiarella variant. Dunno what they are, but they are not ENTIRELY GREEN, so I moved them to where I can see their not-entirely-greenness.

identical in a four-inch pot.  As I make my way around the property uprooting invasive grasses, I see hundreds-if not thousands-of nearly identical-looking little plant crowns.  Either I will soon have a wealth of naturally occurring native wildflowers, or an entirely different crop of weedy plants.   At the moment, all I do is wait for each plant to do what it does or be what it wants to be, kind of like a botanical Free to Be You and Me.  Backwards engineering the native plant question is difficult, and obviously I need a field guide to help (one upside of my property restrictions is that I am forced to learn, something you should never stop doing but most people stop doing anyway).   While I wait for my Amazon order to arrive, if you know what the plant to the right is, let me know.

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3 Responses to What is it?

  1. Corene says:

    any blog post that links to free to be you and me is A-OK by me! xo

  2. Pingback: Sounds like a personal problem | A Thistle in My Sensitive Area

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