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Planting At Our Mainescape Garden Site

Early November is the end of the season at Mainescape, and we were given the opportunity to glean from the remaining unsold native plants that could be added to the NGBH partnership garden site. This garden is primarily shady with a variety of soil conditions, and we designed many natives into this garden landscape that day focused on how they would best thrive and add visual interest.

Five volunteers were busy first weeding areas to be planted with drifts of single species, and then setting these plants in the ground. As many of the plants were approaching dormancy, we did not use fertilizer when planting them to avoid a resurgence of growth just when they should be preparing for winter.

We planted several alternate-leaved dogwood (Swida alternifolia) in the area between the stream and the meadow — further downslope from the mossy area we have been cultivating. Since this shrub is not fussy about light or soil moisture we thought we could use it where it would ultimately shade out the existing grasses and encourage the moss. The addition of these “pagoda” dogwoods, known for their lovely tiered structure that can reach up to about 15’, will add to the midstory that is so often missing from our cultivated wooded landscapes. Their scale at our small landscape garden will have the visual presence of a grove. They will also offer the additional benefit of being habitat for wild life.

One half of this garden landscape is meadow, and within the meadow is a swale. Knowing the soils will be wetter in this swale, we planted turtle head (Chelone glabra), golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), and Canadian burnet (Sanguisorba canadensis), all native to our wet meadows. A few thimbleweed plants (Anemone virginiana) went into a drier area and two plantings of woodland sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) went where the shade will temper excessive growth.

We planted several clumps of Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica), a plant gaining popularity in recent publications as a lawn substitute. While we have seen this plant inhabit the dry shade in the wild, it will be interesting to see how well it does at the Mainescape site. We also planted several Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) in somewhat moist shade — not your typical location for a garden rose — however; it will demonstrate the adaptability and beauty of this completely non-fussy native.

Other plants added to this garden that day are: sweet gale (Myrica gale), sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), Canadian wild ginger, (Asarum canadense), and broad-leaved mountain-mint (Pycanthemum muticum). At the end of our 3 hours of work, 65 plants went into the ground! We will remind you next summer to go take a look at this garden spot, and hopefully you will get ideas for your own garden.

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