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  • 1. Gardening with Native Plants
    A History
    Linda R McMahan
    OSU Extension, Yamhill County
  • 2. Ask Yourself: What are the Origins of Gardening Traditions in America?
    A Pacific Northwest Public Garden
  • 3. Where do we experience gardening traditions?
    The Berry Botanic Garden, Portland, OR
  • 4. In CaseYou Had Any Doubts!
    Our gardening traditions in the United States come primarily from England
  • 5. Gardens We See Often Reflect The British Influence
  • 6. There’s More
    Gardening traditions of many other countries are filtered through English traditions.
    Our “loves and hates” in gardening relate to gardening history in the British Isles.
    We are just now beginning to relate to gardening in an American style.
    The rest is History . . . .
    Native plant garden display at Portland’s Home and Garden Show featuring native plants.
  • 7. Origins of Gardening
    World gardening traditions go back 4000 or more years.
    In England, we begin to trace gardening from the 16th and 17 centuries where it focused primarily on fruits in enclosed or “cloistered” gardens.
    A Red “Plume” Photo: Wikipedia
  • 8. Plant explorers brought tropical plants to Europe. These were were typically grown in glass houses. Many were planted out as “bedding plants” in the spring. This was high formal, structured gardening, requiring high resource use.
    London’s Crystal palace and bedding plants. Photos: Wikipedia
    Exploration and Victorian Traditions (1837-1901-reign of Queen Victoria)
  • 9. Scottish gardener William Robinson reacted to Victorian “excess” by promoting “Wild Gardening”
    Drawings of Robinson’s house and garden: Wikipedia
    William Robinson: Wild Gardening and the English Garden (1838-1925)
  • 10. Wild Gardening Defined
    “Wild Gardening” says William Robinson, is not native plant gardening. Instead, it is “placing perfectly hardy plants in places they will take care of themselves. It has nothing to do with wilderness.” From English Flower Garden
    Stowe Garden (1730-38) designed by Robinson - Wikipedia
  • 11. Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), the founder of the modern border garden, was a colleague of William Robinson. She popularized the idea of the informal border in many publications and garden designs.
    Restored Gertrude Jekyll border at Manor House, Upton Grey, Hampshire: Photo: Wikipedia
    The Emergence of the Border Garden and Gertrude Jekyll
  • 12. Meanwhile, in America . . .
    Early settlers, including the Pilgrims and other settlers, were mostly interested in food. Native Indians were known to grow some food and one report notes cultivation of wild roses along the James River.
    1605 map noting native settlements. The star is the approximate location of the 1620 English settlement
    Source: Wikipedia
  • 13. Very Early America
    Later, especially in the 1800’s, settlers grew ornamentals from “home” like primroses, oxeye daisy, and hollyhock. This tendency to reflect homeland is verified by recent studies of recent settlers in Australia.
    Leucanthemumvulgareoxeye daisy, perhaps the first reported invasive plant in America, Photo: Wikipedia
  • 14. Very Early America
    Beginning in the 1700’s, a growing interest in fruit trees arose. This interest following settlers across the continent to the American west. Apples for food and cider, plums, and pears were particularly popular.
    Winslow Homer painting of grafting of fruit trees in 1870, Photo: Wikipedia
  • 15. William Bartram
    With his father John, William studied and promoted certain native plants, including Frankliniaalatamaha. The Bartram’s were prominent exporters of native plants for European markets.
    (1739-1823)
    Photos: Wikipedia
  • 16. Gradually, people began to incorporate native plants into their gardens
    First, native trees were substituted for European ones, then shrubs. Notable was the use of plants of Southeastern US origin such as magnolias and azaleas.
    Other early plants noted in the literature are native lilies and ferns, then Western conifers.
    Magnolia virginiana, Photo: Wikipedia
  • 17. Thomas Jefferson
    Experimented widely with southeast native plants, including osage orange as a hedge
    Sponsored Lewis and Clark Expedition
    (1743-1826)
    Photos: Wikipedia
  • 18. David Douglas
    Visited the Pacific Northwest on behalf of the British Horticultural Society to look for new plants for European gardens.
    Collected Ribessanguineum which was, according to Penelope Hobhouse, “so important a find as to be itself worth the cost of the whole expedition”
    (1799-1834) Photo: Wikipedia
  • 19. Liberty Hyde Bailey
    “Father of American Horticulture”
    Michigan Agricultural College, then Cornell University
    Creator of the first US horticultural dictionaries
    Botanist, plantsman, nature promoter
    Began tradition of nature study in NY schools, which were probably forerunners of native plant societies
    (1858-1954)
    Photo: Wikipedia
  • 20. For many years, we have continued to follow European tradition—we merely planted native plants in place of standard plants in the European style. This is still reflected in most gardens incorporating native plants.
    A magnolia and Ribessanguineum
  • 21. In this private garden established in the 1940s and 1950s, the traditional use of sweeping lawns intermingle with exotic plants under native Douglas Fir—this continues the “wild gardening” tradition.
  • 22. So. . . What is happening now and how did we get there?
    “Fifteen years later [after 1st edition] a minor garden cult has become a major focus of American gardening.”
    Botanist and author Arthur Kruckeberg in the 2ndEdition of Gardening with Native Plants, 1996
  • 23. Today, public places are more reflective of a natural style
    Oregon State University campus
  • 24. Today's gardens more often reflect nature
    Native wildlife including the banana slug
    Natural plant forms such as that of goldenrod
  • 25. Many of Us Take Inspiration from Nature
    Lomatium (desert parsley) on an outcrop at Catherine Creek Preserve in the Columbia River Gorge
  • 26. Many Public Gardens Feature Plants Native to their Area
    Scene from main lawn of the San Francisco Botanic Garden
  • 27. Gardens Can Reflect Whimsy even if they feature native plants
    Pots feature native Sedum
  • 28. Gardeners focus on the natural form of natives more often, paired with natural materials for paths and other features.
    The Berry Botanic Garden, Portland, OR
  • 29. More and more, gardens such as the one at the McMinnville OR Public Library, feature only native plants
  • 30. Native groundcovers are increasingly used to replace those of non-native origin
    Vancouveriahexandra
  • 31. Plants formerly considered to be weeds are used for their garden or wildlife value
    Cow parsnip, Heracleumlanatum, featured in a butterfly garden at The Berry Botanic Garden, Portland, OR
  • 32. To get conservation certification, many new buildings are using native plants in the landscape
    Engineering Building, Oregon State University, featuring native plants in a designed and somewhat formal landscape
  • 33. Garden historian Penelope Hobhouse characterizes 20th Century gardening as the “Era of Conservation,” citing concern for rare species and cultivars, and for water and wildlife habitat. Gardeners want to “do the right thing.”
    California fuchsia, Epilobium canum
  • 34. Observing restoration projects near home
    Increasing availability of plants and books
    Concerns about water, resources, invasive species, wildlife
    Watching what public gardens and our neighbors are doing
    Native ferns used for erosion control
    What motivates us today?
  • 35. 1900: The New England Wildflower Society was formed in Massachusetts, perhaps as a result of earlier promotion of nature by Liberty Hyde Bailey.
    This group, the oldest native plant society, now lists 88 native plant societies in all states of the US and in many Canadian provinces.
    How did we get here?
  • 36. Books
    1900-1950 – Floras of most regions of North America
    1950 – present – Hundreds of books featuring native plants of various regions and how to grow them. The first were for the eastern regions and the Midwest.
    How did we get here?
  • 37. Magazines
    In the 1970s, a series of articles appeared in Organic Gardening featuring native American plants for lawn substitutes, for wildlife, and groundcovers
    Other magazines and publications soon followed
    How did we get here?
  • 38. Gardening Styles
    In the late 20th century and even today, twin styles of gardening with natives continue to evolve side by side
    Substituting natives for more traditional plants and the development of “garden-worthy” cultivars
    Gardening with native plants for their own sake in natural looking landscapes
    VS
    How did we get here?
  • 39. Rapid proliferation of Native Plant Nurseries in the 1990’s
    These were followed by the formation of regional associations
    An important factor was the increase in restoration activities of government agencies who needed plants
    How did we get here?
  • 40. Establishment of organizations dedicated to native plants.
    1982: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Society in Austin, TX. It is now the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin
    National societies formed in both Canada and the US
    How did we get here?
  • 41. 1990s – A new controversy about whether using native plants is nationalistic
    Proponents say this is a reflection of attitudes of Nazi Germany and is misplaced nationalism, even harmful to plant diversity
    Native plant enthusiasts point out ecological values of gardening with native plants
    Photo: Wikipedia
    Some Recent Controversies
  • 42. Should we use native plants in their wild forms or are cultivars OK? Will cultivars “pollute” the wild gene pool?
    Should gardeners plant native plants from other localities, outside of, say a 50 mile radius of their homes?
    Should gardeners plant native plants at all in cultivated settings to avoid altering the wild gene pool?
    For example, Douglas iris, Iris douglasiana, is only known from certain areas of the American West but planted more widely.
    Some Recent Controversies
  • 43. Conclusion
    Controversies aside, native plant gardening appears to be here to stay.
    Variegated leaf form of a Pacific Northwest strawberry species.
  • 44. Conclusion
    Native plant gardening is very old, dating back to early in the European settlement of America, if not before.
    Varied color forms of a popular American native plant, Ribessanguineum
  • 45. Conclusion
    What is new, is that native plant gardening is beginning to reflect new national and regional styles favoring native plants and natural forms.
    Vine maple, Acer circinnatum
  • 46. Thank You!
    Linda R McMahan
    Botanist and Horticulturist
    Oregon State University Extension Service
    Yamhill County
    linda.mcmahan@oregonstate.edu
    Note: This presentation may be used for educational purposes without express permission. All plant and garden photographs, except as noted, by Linda R McMahan at Oregon State University. Please contact author for all non-educational uses of photographs.
    Oregon grape, Berberis aquifolium