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.

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!

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