Native Plant Potpourri


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A presentation that describes native plants of the Pacific Northwest. It describes the characteristics and benefits of native plants and provides examples of plants worth having in your backyard.

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  • I picked this title before I prepared this presentation. I figured that would allow me to put about anything in it. I looked up definitions of “potpourri” and found that it meant a mixed bag or medley of items. In France it can also mean “rotten fruit.” I hope that tonight it is more medley than fruit.
  • The topics I will cover tonight will include the definition of native plants. What “native” means in terms of time period, locations, and environment.
    Many of you may already be familiar with the benefits of planting, maintaining, and preserving native plants, but I will touch on this topic just as a quick refresher.
    I’ll discuss the way we can classify plants. This covers how they are grouped and how groups as well as specific plants are named.
    I’ll also review some plants that are fan favorites. I group these favorites within the category: tree, shrub, or herbaceous perennial.
    I’ll also discuss planting– what you need to think about in terms of planting opportunities and the environment in which the plants will be planted. This topic also covers hardscape, the complementary material you can put alongside and around your plants. Pruning is also covered within this section and finally some planting tips are offered.
    I’ll wrap it up with a list of resources that will probably refute everything I say tonight.
    If you have any questions we can take them at the end of the talk
  • A good working definition of a native plant is a plant not introduced in an area by humans. A recent federal memo defined native plants as follows: "A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, state, ecosystem, and habitat without direct or indirect human actions."
    If we are talking about Washington native plants, The Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) defines Washington Native Plants as: “… those species that occur or historically occurred within the state boundaries before European contact based upon the best available scientific and historical documentation." In other words, think of a Washington native plant as one that was growing in Washington before 1800.
    Although many of the plants I will be talking about tonight are Washington natives, tonight I will expand our definition to plants that are natives of the “Pacific Northwest.” That will allow us to include species are not native to this area, but will grow well here and will complement our Washington natives.
    Always remember, that when it comes to planting “natives” you need to be concerned about your planting criteria. For example the criteria for your backyard landscape can be less stringent than the criteria for an ecological restoration planting.
  • Let’s look at a definition of the Pacific Northwest. Although there is no formal definition of the term “Pacific Northwest,” Washington and Oregon were always included in the definitions that I found. Most definitions also included most of Idaho and parts of Montana, northern California, British Columbia and SE Alaska. This particular area is sometimes referred to as “Cascadia” and is defined in terms of the huge collection of watersheds that empty into the Pacific Ocean through the North American temperate rainforests.
  • These two different maps allow us to see those parts of the PNW that have the same hardiness zone as we do (the light brown). From this comparison, (which basically shows what areas have the same winter low temperatures as us) we can get a better idea that “if it grows there, it might grow here.” This doesn’t mean that we must exclude plants that may not be native to our particular locale. In fact, it can be fun to see if we can create the necessary environment to nurture a Northwest native conversation piece.
  • In addition to the single measuring stick of temperature, climate and soil conditions can greatly impact what plants grow in a region. Our region has a Mediterranean-like climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Our soil is a legacy of the glaciers which passed through here 10,000 years ago. Our gravelly and clay soils are rich in minerals and generally slightly acidic. Again this impacts what can grow in our region.
  • This chart shows our unique rainfall pattern in Western Washington which plays a large part determining our native flora. It shows the profile of rainfall by month at several locations near Maple Valley plus a profile of rainfall in Toledo, Ohio for comparison purposes. This data represents a 100 year average.
    When gathering this data, the first thing that really surprised me was the difference in total rainfall between Landsburg and the other two Washington sites. Landsburg comes in at 56” per year as opposed to Kent’s 38” and Seatac’s 37”. So right away this tells us that there can be significant differences in rainfall between two sites fairly close together. I was familiar with the Seattle’s convergence zone and Sequim’s very dry climate, but I was surprised to see such different weather in Landsburg.
    Nevertheless, the primary reason for showing this chart is to reinforce what you probably already know. That is, even though we have a lot of rain in a year, our climate is rather droughty. That is, we get 70-75% of our rain during the 6 month period from October to the end of March. We then have a comparative drought starting in April and ending in September. You can see this droughty period on the graph and can compare it to an area like Toledo that has summer rains. (Toledo is in the light blue.)
  • So why native plants? Why are we so concerned and/or interested in growing and preserving native plants?
    One of the reasons is that these plants have adapted to our droughty climate and acidic soils. As a result, this means less maintenance, which means less water and less labor. That’s good for the salmon and good for us.
    These plants support their surrounding environment. They have evolved in concert with this environment, so not only do they do well for themselves, the do well for wildlife, the soil, water resources, and fellow native plants.
    These plants are also an important part of our cultural heritage and need to be preserved to help maintain our link to the past.
    Lastly, it’s a lot of fun to get to know these plants. Learning about them leads to many serendipitous discoveries.
  • Native (and non-native) plants can be broken down into several different types. Understanding these various types of plants – allows us to organize our thoughts and our gardens as we populate them with plants. Thus when we talk about adding natives to our landscaping we can think about creating a community of plants from the dominant forms found in nature.
    These forms can be divided into two major categories – nonvascular and vascular. Nonvascular plants, unlike vascular plants, have no systematic set of tissue for conducting water throughout the plant. Tonight, I will talk about vascular plants only because they are likely to be the only kind you will grow in our your garden.
    As shown on the chart, vascular plants consist of our woody-tissued friends, trees and shrubs. I think these tend to be what we often focus on, when talking about native plants. They certainly can be predominant in what first meets our eye in the western Washington landscape. From towering Douglas-firs and western red cedars to vine maples, to oregon grape and salal, these species tend to first catch our eye. Drive along State Route 18 between and Hobart and Maple Valley and look at the native roadside planting and you will see what I mean.
    Of course there is a another whole side to native plants – herbaceous plants. These plants are those having fleshy, rather than woody, stems and consist of three major groups – Forbs, Graminoids, and Ferns. Forbs are leafy herbs, graminoids are grasses, sedges, and rushes, and ferns are those oddballs that reproduce via spores rather than seeds.
  • This chart shows how the naming scheme of plants. Understanding this naming scheme can help you better understand how plants are related to one another.
    The hierarchy on the left identifies lower 4 categories in the botanical naming scheme. Knowing the family and genus of a plant helps us to understand certain characteristics of that plant..
    When we talk about native plants we generally think of a native species, the next level down from genus. Plants of the same species can reproduce – creating offspring of the same species. Note however, that species is not the lowest level of identification of plants. There can be variations among plants of the same species. These variations tend to be random. However, with some species, there can occur variations of a plant that differ consistently in a similar way – for example size or color.
    These variations within a species can occur naturally such as the shrubby variety of Garry Oak, Quercus garryana, var breweri. However, in other instances, man intervenes and creates a variety that can only be continually replicated via cloning (cuttings or layering). This type of variety, a cultivated variety is called a cultivar.
    As shown on this chart, ‘Monroe’ is a Vine Maple cultivar. Cultivar names are always surrounded by single quotes as shown on the chart. Even though cultivars do not naturally occur in the environment, they are nevertheless considered natives. On the Florida Native Plant Society’s website the say, “It is generally accepted that these (cultivars) are legitimate natives, although they may or may not have been present at the time of European contact.
    Cultivars can be an attractive alternative to a species plant especially if you have size and shape requirements. Cultivars also enable you to assemble an interesting collection of plants of a single species. All of the plants in such a collection would share a set of common characteristics, yet each plant would have some unique characteristic. Our western azalea collection in the Lake Wilderness Arboretum is an example of such a collection – the only difference is that the varieties found in this collection are natural, not cultivars.
    I also want to not the importance of botanical names. Plants have common names such as “Highbush cranberry.” Unfortunately in this instance, this name is applied to three different species of plants. Only a botanical name uniquely identifies a plant.
  • OK, I admit it, the “fan” is me. I’m about to show you some of my favorite native plants. Washington alone has about 3100 different species of native plants and I know you wanted to get out of here before breakfast so I needed to come up with a way to limit what I showed today. Accordingly, On the next few slides I’ll briefly discuss some of my favorite plants. With most of them, I have had some experience, but some of them are on my “want to try” list for one reason or another.
    I think it is sometimes hard to explain why we like a plant. It’s very personal. The WNPS’s mission talks about the “appreciation” of native plants. Why we appreciate something can certainly transcend its beauty. Frankly, sometimes we might appreciate a plant that is not the prettiest plant on the block. It may be the rarest, or one that works the hardest to survive, or one that lives on despite lack of care. It may simply be the one that stimulates your curiosity because of its unfamiliarity to you.
    So here are some plants that I appreciate …
  • We have 30 conifers native to the PNW. This does not include the many varieties within species that are also available. Size is of major concern when selecting a conifer and this probably has a lot to do with where you will be planting the conifer. First, let me show you my three favorite conifers. The Western red cedar, the subalpine fir, and the mountain hemlock. The western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is the most treasured tree by PNW Native Americans. Sometimes called the “tree of life” or “spirit tree” the tree provided, shelter, clothing, tools, and transportation. It was an integral part of their life from birth to death, from cradles to coffins. You can see 1000 year old cedars today along the short Eastside Trail that parallels the Ohanapecosh River near Mt. Rainier National Part. The falls, in 3 miles, are an excellent picnic/turnaround point.
    One or more western red cedars can provide an attractive border for your property. With a tree this big, you need to be ruthless when it comes to your landscape. The problem I see with many cedar borders is that property owners are too unwilling to thin their trees when they get a certain size. Their comes a time when a tree is just too big. That’s the time to whack it down. Many cultivars of T. plicata are available and enable you to have specimens that are small in size and varied in shape and color.
    Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) is a popular, slow-growing conifer. Its needles are a rich dark green and the limbs grow close together forming an attractive, well-shaped tree when put in a landscape. This tree, when found in nature grows in open, wind-swept subalpine regions has a correspondingly rugged and windswept look.
    One of my “want to try” trees is the subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa). Sometimes erroneously called an “alpine fir” (trees don’t grow in alpine areas), like the mountain hemlock the subalpine fir is found in the subalpine areas of the cascade mountains. Unlike the mountain hemlock, the subalpine fir, maintains a fairly gnarly appearance in landscapes. Don’t be hesitant to buy trees that have multiple trunks. This can lend “character” to the tree. This trees rugged look coupled with its slow-growing nature this tree can be used as an evergreen accent to perennial beds without overshadowing the perennials. It is also a must for your alpine garden. Chris and I recently saw a compact cultivar ‘White Dwarf” in an alpine garden setting at the Kruckeberg gardens. I also found a “compacta” cultivar at – a website of a Snohomish nursery.
  • At this time of the year, it would be hard for me to vote for anything other than our beautiful Vine Maple (Acer circinatum). Anywhere you drive today, you can’t help but be awed by the colorful display of this small tree. This native is widely available in most nurseries that offer natives. Several may also sell cultivars that would enable you to hopefully lock in a particular color in the Fall or a particular shape and size. As far as shape and size go – I vote for pruning which I will discuss later. Vine maples provide wonderful accents to your yard and gardens and can also complement large hardscape like the water feature in the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.
  • Here are three of my other favorite broad-leaved trees.
    Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) can grow as a shrub, but can be pruned as a tree and will reach 35’ in height. Extremely hardy, you may be lucky enough to grow a tree from a seedling found on your property. It was probably started from a seed dropped by one of the many birds that flock to cascaras for their attractive dark purple berries. The smooth, gray bark of the cascara and its deeply veined leaves are other striking features of this plant. I recently saw a huge cascara at the Kruckeberg gardens in Shoreline (that’s me standing next to it). It’s leaves were turning a striking yellow-orange. Cascara, also known as cascara sagrada, is used in herbal medicine as a laxative. In 2003, it was among the top 5 herbal medicine plants harvested in the US. for herbal medicine. Cascara sagrada is one of the few herbs approved as an over-the-counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The portion of the plant used is the bark. 83 tons where harvested in 2003. That’s a lot of …. bark.
    You may be wondering why I listed tan oak. Tan Oak is just barely a PNW native – reaching into southwest Oregon from northern California. I love oaks and frankly, I think I prefer the eastern natives over our PNW natives. However, as a native, this oak has a lot going for it. First of all, it is evergreen – how cool is that? Secondly, it is not in the “oak” genus, quercus, but rather the “oak” (more commonly “beech”) family (Fagaceae). These are some of the crazy things that make me “appreciate” a plant. Again, I refer you to the Kruckeberg gardens where several of these trees grow. This tree can get quite big – up to 80’-100’ tall, but normal height in the garden is 25’-30’. This evergreen is a permanent source of greenery providing attractive background in the summer and green relief in the winter. This bark of this oak was once used for tanning leather, hence its name. Tan oak is fire resistant and helps keep soil from eroding after a fire.
    I thought it was interesting that in his book, Kruckeberg referred to Elderberry as a tree. It is more commonly described as a shrub, but since I have so many favorite shrubs, I thought I would include it here. Blue elderberry as well as red elderberry (S. racemosa) provide a wonderful source of food for birds although I notice that the red berries seem to disappear faster than the blue. Consequently, if you are concerned only about birds, I would go with S. racemosa. The berries on the blue elderberry seem to stick around longer and provide an attractive sight in the fall.
    Red elderberry is ubiquitous throughout our nearby wooded areas, but blue elderberry is seldom seen unless introduced by gardeners. However, it is very common east of the Cascades. Both species are usually found in online nurseries. It seems like the blue elderberry is more highly promoted, probably because its cooked berries can be used in pies and jams, and berry juice can be fermented into wine. Be careful with eating elderberries; only the berries are edible. Its bark, leaves, and stems can be poisonous.
  • I have lumped kinnikinnik as a shrub – it just happens to be woody, multi-stem plant that creeps along the ground. This evergreen ground cover likes sandy, loamy soil and tends to struggle in hard-packed soil. We use it as a accent around the edges of our perennial beds. It can be trimmed back easily if it gets too aggressive, but so far we have not had this problem. Its dark, evergreen leaves and red berries provide good color to a perennial bed that may otherwise be drab in the winter. It will tolerate very sunny locations.
    I just love evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). It seems to be a reluctant grower in this area; so you have to have patience. These shrubs can be found in profusion in forested areas around gig harbor. I have talked to several people who have gone berry-picking in this area. The dark blue berries are small yet delicious. They stay fresh into the winter and thus provide a food source when other berries have disappeared. Although this shrub can get quite large – 9’-10’ tall and 12’ across, it will probably not happen in your lifetime. These plants are found in most nurseries that carry native plants. I found several bushy, attractive plants at Covington Creek Nursery. My huckleberries are planted in a shaded area per Hoyle, and are growing very slowly. Although I see this plant is rated as a shade-loving grower, I wonder if it would do better with more sun.
    Oregon grape (Mahonia aquafolium) of course is not a grape at all. It gets this label because of the grape-like berries that appear in the fall. Sometimes the name is hyphenated to help readers understand that the plant is not a grape. Sometimes called “Tall Oregon grape” to distinguish it from its short, shade-loving cousin, M. nervosa, M. aqualfolium does quite well in the sun, thank you. Oregon’s state flower, this plant can grow up to 6’ tall. Its yellow spring flowers are sweet-smelling and its numerous blue berries (which can be intermixed with salal berries) make an excellent grape jelly.
    The sadler oak (Quercus sadleriana) first came to my attention when I visited the home of our WNPS stewardship instructor, Anna Thurston. She has a thick, bushy specimen about 5’ tall and 6’ across growing in her front yard. The leaves of this plant stay green throughout the winter and provide a conversation piece as well a colorful addition to your yard when many of your perennials are dormant. The acorns from this plant provide food for wildlife..
  • Choosing only 4 favorite deciduous shrubswas difficult. There are so many attractive shrubs in this category. I finally selected these 3 (plus one more on the following chart because each one has something I uniquely appreciate about the plant.
    What I like about serviceberry is its wide range of appeal. In the spring, this early bloomer is densely populated with small pretty white flowers. The sweet blue berries that follow provide summer food for more than a dozen species of birds. In the fall, this shrub leaves turn bright yellow, doing their part to add to the color palette of fall.
    Twinberry gets its name from its pairs of berries that follow corresponding pairs or pretty yellow blossoms. The berries are quite striking, offset by dark red bracts. Like all blue berries native to Washington, these berries are edible and quite tasty. As with most honeysuckles, the twinberries attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. This plant is extremely hardy, I have had great luck growing it about anywhere. I think it does need a little sun though to maximize blossoms and berries.
    The last shrub on this chart is the squashberry or mooseberry (Viburnum edule). Quite often confused with its European cousin Viburnum opulus and its eastern US cousin V. trilobum, this smaller version has the advantage of edible (yet tart) berries. Mixed with commercial cranberries, these berries can spice up your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. V. edule also shares (at times) the same common name as its cousins - highbush cranberry. V. edule is very easy to propagate by layering.
    The berries from V. opulus and V. trilobum are purported to be toxic. DO NOT add them to your thanksgiving sauce, unless of course Aunt Maude and Uncle Bertram have stopped by for the day.
  • This final favorite of mine is fairly unique among PNW native plants; it apparently had no use for PNW Indians. I guess the hummingbirds aren’t complaining though because this plant is one of their favorites. This plant has the distinction of being catalogued by three of our earliest explorers. First catalogued by Archibald Menzies in 1792, ship’s surgeon sailing with Captain George Vancouver, this plant was also collected by Meriwether Lewis, and later introduced back in England by David Douglas in 1817. This pretty bloomer, which takes easily to pruning, should be a presence in every PNW garden. This plant can be seen growing in the wild in Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park.
  • This has been my most difficult chart. I have not had great luck growing native perennials. On the other hand I haven’t studied them nor done much experimentation with them. Thus my “favorites” could change in the next couple of years as I explore native plant nurseries and special sales.
    Hooker’s fairy bells, a member of the lily family, is a fairly common in our nearby forested areas. I was pleasantly surprised to find some growing in the wildlife corridor up the hill from to Lake Wilderness. Although this plant is advertised to grow to 3’, I have not seen one taller than 18” in the wild. Their flowers are attractive little white “bells” that hang down beneath its leaves. These flowers are followed by orange-red berries.
    False solomon’s seal, likes shady habitat like Fairy bells. I have seem some huge specimens growing in the open that were getting watered. I think this is a common theme among natives. They live on neglect, but really thrive with TLC. The leaves of this plant look similar to US native Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum commutatum) , but can be distinguished by its flowers which point upright whereas those of P. commutatum hang below its leaves. False Solomon’s seal had many medicinal uses by Native Americans. Mashed roots were used to heal cuts and tea from the roots was also used to alleviate rheumatism. Kruckeberg suggests using the tall S. racemosa to accent a carpet of its shorter cousin, Starry False solomon’s seal S. stellata.
  • I have to admit that I have had little luck getting Western Trillium to grow although it is advertised to be “easily grown.” I had to include it as a favorite though because once you have a large drift successfully blooming under your Rhodies or in some other shaded area of your yard, the effort will be worth it. Our woods in Ohio sports a sea of trilliums in the spring that is breathtaking. You can start this plant from seed and some sources indicate that this method is preferred to planting individual plants. I think I will try planting them from seed even though flowers could take 5-8 years to appear. In addition to T. ovatum, you may want to try other native trilliums such as giant trillium, T. chloropetalum or Sessile Trillium (T. parviflorum).
    Oregon Iris (Iris tenax) is one of the seven species of “grass iris” that grow west the Cascades. It likes open, sunny spots with well-drained soil. I you plant a collection of multiple species you may well get a surprising, colorful mix of hybrids.
  • Ferns can really add interest to your landscaped areas. Although they all thrive moist shady locations, the Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) will grow well in full sun. The ground-hugging lower fronds of a fern provide help retain moisture around it and provide cover for insects and amphibians. Allow it is tempting to “clean up” dry fronds around the base of your ferns, I would encourage you not to do that. Two of my favorite ferns are the deer fern (Blechnum spicant), shown below and the Sword fern shown on the next chart.
  • This picture really turned out well. I couldn’t bear to shrink it down. The large sword fern in the background surrounds and embraces the hydrangea and hellebores in the foreground.
  • Native graminoids (grasses, sedges, and rushes) can add hardy accents to your cultivated areas.
    Just like dressing up this chart, native graminoids native graminoids can dress up your landscaping. These types of plants help provide a complete community of plants in your garden – mirroring the natural plant community. Many grasses and sedges are available in nurseries today, but most are non-native species.
    By providing native species in your garden, you can be assured that you are adding to natural food sources available to birds and other seed-eating species.
    One thing we have done in our planted areas is to simply leave volunteer sedges and rushes. The common rush shown on this chart is one of several Chris I have growing in and our cultivated areas.
    Carex deweyana tolerates drier conditions than most sedges, but may need some moisture if planted in full sun.
    Idaho fescue is a bunch grass recommended in Art Kruckeberg’s “Gardening with Native Plants,” but I have not tried it.
  • Once you have decided to plant some natives in your yard or other area, you need to consider the nature of your site. Are you creating a new pocket garden or plant area in your yard. Is this area going to have specific plant types? – Alpine, prairie, wetland, woodland?
    Or are do you simply need to add some accents to existing areas. I would consider a “specimen plant’ to be one that tends to draw more individual attention rather than an accent plant that complements and enhances the appearance of surrounding plants.
    You may have a border area along a driveway or a property boundary that needs planting. This may be an area where you look to an architecture of plants that can include good-sized trees.
    You may not be concerned with public areas, but parks, public walkways, and roadsides provide opportunities for creating areas consisting of native plants exclusively. The low maintenance requirements of native plants make them especially attractive alternative to government agencies.
    Each natural area restoration tends to demand a somewhat unique approach in that you want to plant plants are native and common to that specific area. This is a situation where you would normally not want to plant cultivars. Before establishing a planting plan, you need to survey the area and determine slope, moisture, and soil conditions as well as a current inventory of plants growing there. Depending on what you are “restoring” you may have to perform dramatic change (eg. bulldozing, soil enhancements, and reintroduction of historically-present plants). In other cases, it may be as simple as removal of invasives and additional planting of plants already in the area. Typically, your plan will be somewhere in-between.
  • I mentioned the importance of a survey for restoration efforts. For every planting opportunity, it pays to consider the environment.
    Is it sunny, shady or somewhere in between?
    What kind of soil will you be planting in and how moist is it?
    The answers to these questions will help you select the right plant – “right plant, right place.” Almost all nurseries, particularly those online will describe the best planting environment for individual plants. Also, specific online queries about a plant will always lead to helpful information.
  • This slide shows an example of a border along a property boundary. It is very natural and informal and uses an unlikely mix of alder, salmonberry, and thimbleberry as border plants.
    The second picture shows a close-up of the same border. Note that the owner added rocks and a “rock stream” for accents. There is a wide range of natives in the understory of this border.
    The final picture shows the antithesis of a natural border. The plants are all the same. Interestingly enough these may be native plants – cultivars of western red cedar. At least they need no water!
  • This is a really good example of a native plant area in a public space. This walkway runs along the Maple Valley highway just South of highway 169 exit off of state route 18. Notice how the varying height of plants together with the sweep of the walkway lead your eye (and feet). The rocks and ferns complement one another and the V. edule (on the back right) lends a splash of fall color. This planting is waterwise and will require a minimum of amount of maintenance. The bare areas covered with bark are also an important part of the look of this area – again drawing the eye to an accent. The only problem with this bare area is that it can be a collection point for weeds and trash. Although I really like having open spaces in the architecture, a possible alternative would be low growing native herbaceous perennials in these areas.
  • Your native (and non-native) plants can be accented and aided by correspondingly native accouterments – hardscape. By strategically placing natural objects (sticks and stones) next to and your plants, you create a micro-climate that can provide shade to low growing plants and to the roots of other plants. These rocks or woody items gather heat during the day and release it slowly at night. Likewise, woody items act like a sponge, gathering rain water during a storm and then releasing it slowly during following dry spells. These objects also help to keep soil in place during heavy rains. Under the rocks and logs, amphibians and insects find shelter and become an important part in the food web of your soil. Lastly, the natural, yet unique look of each rock and woody object lend eye-catching juxtaposition next to your plants.
  • Sometimes people think, “oh, I have a native plant, I can’t prune it.” That just isn’t true. Like any other tree or shrub, natives can be pruned. Here are two different pictures illustrating choices in pruning a vine maple. The example of the left is interesting. There are two vine maples in is picture. The one on the right is limbed up so that there are no branches on the lower 6’ of the stems. This allows for attractive hardscape and other plants to grow in the resulting open area. Interestingly enough, one of the plants growing in this area is a vine maple! Although this plant could be a cultivar, I choose to believe that it has been ‘’viciously” pruned to maintain its low profile.
    The homeowner on the right has chosen to allow her vine maple to be a full bush. As you can see, this bushy appearance provides an excellent screen and eye-catching color in the fall.
  • Here is another example of pruning. I would never choose to prune (“shear” is a more appropriate term) my red flowering current like this, but I think the City chose to do this so that in the spring, this would appear as a solid blaze of color. The problem with this approach is that for the remainder of the year, the structure of this patch of shrubs is boring.
  • Now that you know all about native plants, planting environments, and hardscape, its time to put the plants in the ground! My final couple of charts illustrate how to prepare the roots of trees and shrubs prior to planting. Quite often, your plants will have been growing in a pot for a year or more before you get them to plant. This can cause the roots to do wrap around in a circle rather than spread out as the would naturally in the ground. Accordingly, you need to return these roots into as natural a configuration as possible before putting the plant in the ground. To do this, I almost bare root the plant before planting it.
  • This is what we are going for. This is a picture of a Mahonia aquafolium after I bare-rooted it. These roots you see were surrounded by set of capillary roots that were surrounding these key roots and would have acted as a barrier to the plant gaining a foothold in the ground. Since this picture was taken, this plant has been planted and is doing great.
  • The picture on the left shows a root circling the tree. It was clipped off so that it would not continue to wrap the tree and potentially choke it. The picture on the right show the final results of bare-rooting including trimming of the roots.
    Note that bucket. One of the easiest way to bareroot a plant is to dunk it in a bucket of water. If the water has some plant starter all the better. Here’s a tip. Crush 4-5 aspirin into the water (1 aspirin per gallon) and you have a natural plant starter! The other great thing about the bucket is that you can place your plant in there before planting it. This keeps the very fine roots cool and wet which is very important and it gets the starter right to the roots.
  • Yep, planting puts a smile on your face. This is my forester daughter, Karen.
  • This list of resources just scratches the surface, but it represents nurseries or other resources that I have used successfully or (in a few cases) have been recommended to me. Items are listed in alphabetical order.
    Covington creek nursery – local nursery very supportive to local landscapers and environmental organizations. High quality selection of native plants.
    Forestfarm nursery – mail order house with extensive inventory of native plants
    Lake Wilderness Arboretum – good selection and prices, helpful staff. Open weekend prior to Mother’s day – Saturdays thereafter until 2nd weekend of Sept.
    MsK Rare Plant Nursery – Wide variety of unique native herbs at Kruckeberg Botanical Garden in Shoreline.
    Sky Valley Nursery – Very large selection of conifers including subalpine firs
    Sound Native Plants – Native plant experts
    Woodbrook Nursery – Very large selection of native plants. Fun place to visit
    King County Native Plants – Wide-ranging set of information and references – compact cultivar of subalpine fir available here – A site for info about native plants nationwide. It has the most comprehensive list of native plant nurseries I’ve seen.
    Wallace W Hansen's Northwest Native Plants – Wally Hanson has been involved with PNW native plants for a long time. Pictures on his sight are excellent.
    Washington Native Plant Society – many, many resources and references
    WSU Native Plants – similar to King County site. Run by WSU extension. Has extension service imprimatur
  • Native Plant Potpourri

    1. 1. Native Plant Potpourri John Neorr Washington Native Plant Steward
    2. 2. Topics • • • • Definition Importance Classification Fan Favorites – Trees – Shrubs – Herbs • Planting • Resources • Q&A
    3. 3. What is a Native Plant? • Not introduced by humans "A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a particular region, state, ecosystem, and habitat without direct or indirect human actions." • Washington Native Plant Society: “Washington native plants are those species that occur or historically occurred within the state boundaries before European contact based upon the best available scientific and historical documentation.” • Natives of Pacific Northwest
    4. 4. The Pacific Northwest • All of Washington and Oregon • Most of Idaho • Parts of Montana, California, BC, Alaska “Watersheds of rivers that flow to the Pacific Ocean through North America’s temperate rainforest zone.”
    5. 5. Hardiness Zones
    6. 6. Climate and Soil • Mediterranean-like Climate – Warm/Dry summers – Cool/Wet summers • Glacial-impacted soil – Gravel – Clay – Rich in Minerals – Acid
    7. 7. Rainfall Profile 9 8 7 Inches 6 SeaTac Airport 5 Landsburg 4 Kent 3 Toledo, Ohio 2 1 0 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Month • Annual rainfall: • Kent ------------38” • Seatac ---------37” • Landsburg ----56” • Toledo, Ohio -33” • 70-75% falls from Oct-Mar (Washington locations)
    8. 8. Why Native Plants? • Adapted to the Environment – Drought tolerant – Acid-loving – Require less maintenance • Support surrounding environment – – – – Wildlife Soil Water Plant communities • Part of our cultural heritage • Educational and fun
    9. 9. Types of Native Plants • Nonvascular plants (Lichens, Algae) • Vascular Plants – Woody Plants • Trees • Shrubs – Herbs (Herbaceous plants) • Forbs (Broad-leaved) • Graminoids (Grasses, Sedges, Rushes) • Ferns
    10. 10. Naming Natives Vine Maple Fagaceae Aceraceae Family Quercus Acer Genus Species Variety Garry Oak circinatum ‘Monroe’ garryana var. breweri
    11. 11. Fan Favorites
    12. 12. Favorite Trees - Conifers - Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)
    13. 13. Favorite Trees - Broad-leaved Deciduous - Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
    14. 14. Favorite Trees - Broad-leaved Deciduous - Tan Oak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) Blue Elderberry (Sambucus caerulea) William & Wilma Follette @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS
    15. 15. Favorite Shrubs - Evergreen - Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) © Clay Antieau Oregon grape (Mahonia aqualfolium) Sadler Oak (Quercus sadleriana)
    16. 16. Favorite Shrubs - Deciduous - Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) Squashberry (Viburnum edule)
    17. 17. Favorite Shrubs - Deciduous - Red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
    18. 18. Herbaceous Perennials - Forbs - False solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum or Smilacina racemosa) Hooker’s Fairy Bells (Disporum hookeri)
    19. 19. Herbaceous Perennials - Forbs - Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum) Oregon Iris (Iris tenax)
    20. 20. Ferns • • • • Add accent to landscaping Prefer moist/shady locations Provide cover of insects/amphibians Favorites: – Deer Fern – Sword Fern
    21. 21. Grasses, Sedges, Rushes • Hardy accents to your landscape • Creates natural plant setting • Provide seed to birds • Make use of volunteers Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) Common Rush (Juncus effusus) Carex deweyana
    22. 22. Planting Opportunities • Devoted pocket gardens/Areas – – – – Alpine Prairie Wetland Woodland • Accent/Specimen plants • Borders • Public areas – Parks – Walkways – Roadsides • Natural area restoration
    23. 23. Consider the Environment • Sun/Shade • Soil • Moisture
    24. 24. Native Plant Border Alder, Thimbleberry, and Salmonberry Border Same border showing hardscape and other natives Ouch, same property with “lollipop” border
    25. 25. Public Area City of Maple Valley Walkway
    26. 26. Sticks and Stones
    27. 27. Pruning
    28. 28. Pruning
    29. 29. Planting Tips
    30. 30. Planting Tips Bare-rooting a Mahonia aquafolium
    31. 31. Planting Tips Notice curled root in foreground Ready to plant!
    32. 32. Why It’s All Worth It!
    33. 33. Native Plant Sources • Nurseries – – – – – – – • Websites – – – – – – • Covington Creek Nursery (Auburn, WA) Forestfarm Nursery (Williams, OR) Lake Wilderness Arboretum (Maple Valley, WA) Msk Nursery (Shoreline, WA) Sky Valley Nursery (Monroe, WA) Sound Native Plants (Olympia, WA) Woodbrook Nursery (Gig Harbor) King County Native Plants (Snohomish, WA) Wallace W Hansen's Northwest Native Plants Washington Native Plant Society WSU Native Plants Books – – “Gardening with Native Plants” by Arthur Kruckeberg “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast” by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon