Winterberry Farm Primitives

This blog is now devoted to gardening with native plants with a focus on those species native to the east coast of the United States. With an MS in Agricultural Science from the University of Delaware and my love of native plants, I hope to help folks see the beauty and necessity of using native plants in your garden instead of exotic plants. Did you know that our native song birds and native insects are disappearing as our local environments continue to change?
For those who come to this page to see my 'Winterberry Farm Primitives' blog can now be found at where I will post new additions to my online antiques shop at and discuss various subjects about primitive antiques.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fall is Coming and the Solidago is Already Flowering...

Finally back after a couple of years and just in time for the beautiful flowers of the Solidago species that you can see everyday on roadsides and in the fields. Pair these flowers with some red asters, Lobelia cardinalis that is still flowering and you have a bright and cheerful fall garden. Solidago (or goldenrod) come in several species and cultivars, sizes and hues of yellow gold tiny flowers, and even different hues of green that can range from a bright green color to a dark blue/green on the shade-loving Solidago caesia (Blue-Stem Goldenrod). As the leaves on shrubs and trees begin to change color, add several of these fall flowering Solidago species to the your shrub bed for a burst of bright golden color. One of the best cultivars for your garden is Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', an old cultivar but still one of the best for the home garden. It will form small clumps with those striking golden arches of flowers shooting out over the top of the foliage. No matter what species or cultivar you plant, it will put a smile on your face every time you walk by it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Front Garden - July 13, 2014

This is the mid-point of summer in my front garden and the little annual vines didn't make the splash I was expecting this year. With our very nice and very cool, rainy spring, the vines didn't have the heat and sun that they needed to grow and get big so we planned another way to make the garden pop this year...we painted the tobacco lath fence a gorgeous red color to not only preserve the fence but to make a statement in the garden. We used an outdoor solid stain called 'Aztec Red' for the fence and it looks wonderful against the greens in the front garden. Not too much happens in my front garden during the long, hot days of summer but there are a few plants that flower and give some color to the summer days. Spigelia marilandica and Silene virginica are two plants that flower in the summer and they are both plants that can grow in sun or shade.
Spigelia marilandica - or Indian Pink - were first found and named in the state of Maryland. They are gorgeous little plants with great green leaves and wonderful red flowers with great yellow throats.
Here they are with the sun shining on the flowers and I swear they don't look real but look like they are part of a surreal oil painting. If cut back after flowering, Spigelia marilandica will flower again later in the summer season so you can get a double show of these spectacular flowers. Silene virginica, on the other hand, have small vibrant red flowers that sit on leggy plants with long, narrow leaves that intertwine themselves through and around other plants for a wonderful surprise of these bright red flowers in either partial shade or full sun.
I love Silene virginica whose common name is 'Fire Pink' because of its range of red colors from a bright red to a softer and quieter red depending on its location in your garden and the make-up of your soil. This little plant (that can range in size from 12" to 18" tall) is our native relative of the Dianthus genus that includes florist carnations and I think is a much more desirable plant to have in your garden. In its native habitat, it is found on rocky outcrops and at the edges of forest meadows to give that little blast of color to the deep green of our woodlands.
One last plant that flowers at this time of year in my front garden is a cousin to Porteranthus trifoliata (Bowman's Root) and it is Porteranthus stipulatus also known as Indian Physic - so named because Native Americans used the powdered root of this plant as an emetic. It can grow up to 24" tall and is like a small, feathery shrub with light green leaves and tiny bright white flowers. When you look at the flowering season of this plant, it's range is from Late May to June but my Porteranthus stipulatus flowers in late June to early July so it is a little surprise of bright white color in the deep greens of my mid-summer garden.
This is also the time of the year that my trillium are setting seed and I must stress that trillium do not set seed easily and they must be of a certain age to set viable seed so remember to leave your trillium plants to die down on their own instead of cutting off the stalks once the flowers die back. My trillium in my front garden definitely set viable seed these days and I am careful to protect them when weeding and pruning my shrubs. Here is a picture of one of my Trillium cuneatum that has set seed this summer with its hard seed case.I am hoping to have a third little set of new trillium seedlings next year. So far this little population of Trillium cuneatum has increased each year with small single leafed plants that have germinated from these mother plants. Hopefully one day I will have a nice 'blanket' of Trillium cuneatum in this side of my front garden.
Since it is going to be a quiet month in my front garden in August, I will be sharing my Lilium superbum flowers that are just now fattening up their buds for flowering later this month. I will also share the progress of my native shrub gardens in my back gardens in my next blog so stay tuned!!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Front Garden - June 4, 2014

Our cool, clear spring has been very good for working in the garden but not too good for blogging. I have been in my gardens every day since I last blogged and I have loved every minute of my time working and enjoying my gardens. Things are changing and the garden is becoming so overgrown that it is like walking through a small wooded area instead of my front yard. I have seen catbirds, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, cedar waxwings, mockingbirds, and so many robins that they are even nesting on a tavern sign on my front porch.
These babies are gone now and I have seen them hopping around my back gardens learning how to eat the Amelanchier berries from my Amelanchier canadensis tree that is full of delicious berries that make the best jelly. I talked about this jelly in a December 29, 2009 in a blog posting on the Amelanchier tree (serviceberry) that you can find in my archives.
What has happened in my front garden since the last time I posted? There have been many changes and much growth in the last couple of weeks.
Remember this picture from last January?
Or this picture from last February?
Well.....this is what that same area of my front garden looks like today, June 4, 2014. I know I posted these pictures before but the hydrangea is leafing out and the geraniums are beginning to flower so the undergrowth is continuing to grow and expand. Flowers have come and gone, shrubs have flowered and are now setting seed and the trilliums are almost gone but there are new flowers getting ready to burst forth as the summer begins.
The Porteranthus trifoliatus is now in flower and is a showy plant if it is in your woodland areas. It seems to collect the sunshine on those gorgeous white flowers and will look like it is glowing on a sunny spring day.
Porteranthus stipulatus, a cousin of Porteranthus trifoliatus, is just beginning to bud out as its cousin is just finishing its flowering season. It will be just as fabulous when it is in full flower so the bright but soft white of these cousins will continue to grace my front garden into the summer months. Another plant just getting ready to flower is my Spigelia marilandica. A truly wonderful native plant that can grow in shade or sun and has bright red flowers with wonderful yellow throats. This is just one of my plants in my shady front garden that is getting ready to flower.
As for those little annual vines - they have not done too well because of our cool and rainy spring but I expect that they will start to grow very quickly as the summer warms up. Here is a picture of the firecracker vine on my fence as of today. Not too big yet but it is already flowering!
That is it for today but as soon as that spigelia begins to flower and the geraniums get going - I'll be back!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Front Garden - May 21, 2014

You may have noticed my new banner for my garden blog. I still have my Winterberry Farm Primitives blog but it is now at the webpage listed at the top of this blog and is called the Winterberry Farm Primitives Shop Blog. It can be accessed directly or through my website that is listed on the right side of this blog. Why name this blog 'Plant Deva'? Plant devas are the fairies that care for trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants so what better name for a blog that will hopefully inspire you to develop native gardens? May has been a very busy month with days of bright sunshine and cool spring temperatures interspersed with days of rain necessary for maximum growth of a garden full of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Today it is a nice, rainy day and a perfect time for me to add to the continuing changes that are happening in my front garden this year.To see a slide show of all of the pictures in this post, click on the first picture. Remember this picture?
This was my front garden back on February 18th when we still had snow on the ground and I thought that the snow and cold weather would never end...Well! this is a view of my front garden today, May 21, 2014 from the same vantage point as the picture from February when everything was covered in snow.
What a difference just a few months can make in a garden! The trees are all leafed out and my large Hydrangea quercifolia is setting bud and getting ready to flower in a few weeks. As I walk through my little front garden on a sunny day, I see something new and exciting. This week, it is my 'little girl', Chionanthus virginicus, our native White Fringe Tree. The Chionanthus genus is similar to the Holly genus (Ilex) in that they are dioeceous. In other words, there are male and female plants with the female producing beautiful dark blue fruits and the males producing flowers that are longer and more lacy than the female trees. There are also a few trees that have what are called 'perfect' flowers that contain both the male (pistils) and female (stamens) flowers. When in flower, these small trees or shrubs (if allowed to sucker) have the most wonderful fragrance that can waft through your open windows and doors when you plant them close to your home.
White Fringe Trees are easy to grow and are well-suited for the suburban garden. With no major pests and the ability to be an understory tree or grow in full sun, this is, I think, one of our best native trees for your garden. It is also food for native insects and also a nice tree or shrub for the nests of our native songbirds.
Another great native shrub that is in flower right now is the Calycanthus floridus or Carolina Sweetshrub. There are several cultivars available in the trade with a green flowered one called 'Athens'. Not only are the flowers spectacular but if planted in good, acidic east coast soil, the red flowered plants smell like strawberries and the green flowered 'Athen's cultivar smells like grapefruit! Soil type is very important in this attribute of these shrubs and adding extra organic matter or trying to 'improve' your soil may cause it to lose its gorgeous scent. Every morning at this time of the year, I walk out of my front door to the faint scent of strawberries that only intensifies on warm days. Where else can you get gorgeous flowers, wonderful fragrance, and little or no maintenance?
Other things that I saw this morning was a lacy Thalictrum diocum pushing its way through some of my Calycanthus floridus suckers. Seeing these wonderful little plants and their maidenhair fern-like foliage makes me think of cool woodland walks on a very warm summer day but I am in my front garden!
Can you see the foliage of the Thalictrum diocum in the middle of this picture? I love this little plant that is known more for its lacy foliage and not its tiny flowers. I will have to make this Part 1 of a Two Part blog because so much is happening in the garden today! Check back tomorrow when I will show you some of my most favorite plants in this garden!

How to follow my blog without Google+

First, I must apologize for the amount of 'pinned' information at the top of my garden blog. Blogger has decided to only allow followers through Google+ so all of my followers through the old template are now hidden. The importance of having a list of followers is to allow those followers to receive alerts when new posts are posted on my blog. So! In order to receive these alerts without having to use Google+, I have added a 'Follow by Email' gadget to my blog. Please add your email to be able to continue to receive alerts as I continue the history of my front garden through the four seasons of 2014.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Front Garden April 30, 2014

Today is the last day of April and it is shaping up to be a very rainy day. I can't get out into the garden so I thought I would go through the last set of pictures that I took in the front garden a couple of days ago. I was reducing their size and cropping pictures so I could post them in my next blog and what do I see but several pictures with these little seedlings in them. CLICK ON THIS FIRST PICTURE TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW OF ALL OF THE PICTURES IN THIS POST
You can see them in the lower part of this picture below the trillium plants. My first thought was 'What are these little guys?' I knew they weren't weeds and I knew they were important but I just couldn't place them. Late last night as I was getting ready for bed, it hit me. They were Thalictrum diocum (Early Meadow-rue) seedlings! Why is this so important, you ask? Thalictrum species are diecious which means that in order to get seedlings you need to have both male and female plants in your garden. Here they are in another part of my front garden and I can't wait for them to mature and flower.
What is so exciting is that I think I finally have conditions in my front garden that mimic a small woodland because once these gorgeous Thalictrum diocum seedlings mature, I will have a gauzy, hazy herbaceous layer under my trees and shrubs. In this picture you can see a little Thalictrum diocum coming up through the Viola labridorica sedling that flew in from somewhere.
I then decided to check out my other pictures to see what else I could find and here is a picture of one of my Porteranthus trifoliatus (American Ipecac) plants and I know when I go outside tomorrow to take pictures, I will find more of these wonderful plants coming up and hopefully I will also find some little seedlings too.
One last little plant that I just love is called Pussy-toes and it has the long scientific name of Antennaria plantaginifolia. It is a very slow growing tiny groundcover and is fabulous if left in place and allowed to grow at its own pace. As it grows and gently creeps, the middle begins to die out so you get a hole in the center of the mass. In this picture you can see the little white flowers that gives you an idea of why its common name is 'pussy-toes'
Have a great rest of your day and if you are on the east coast and getting this rain storm, remember....April showers bring May flowers so we should have a jungle out there next month!