GRAY SUMMIT, Mo. – Mother’s Day is Sunday. If you want to gift mom flowers or plants, garden experts hope you will think native. Whether you have a balcony garden or acres of land, including native plants in your landscape can make a big difference.
“We’ve been gardening so long with non-native plants, familiar things like daylilies and hostas and azaleas and things like that. It’s a great time to add a few native plants to the garden,” said Scott Woodbury, the manager of horticulture at the Shaw Nature Reserve.
The Whitmire Wildflower Garden at the reserve is a great showcase of all things native plants.
“Our practice is to go into nature to collect seeds and bring them back to propagate in our greenhouse,” Woodbury said.
Natural landscaping is beautiful, colorful, and furnishes food and cover for butterflies, bees, and birds.
“The big pollinator in the garden are the bees because they’ve got hairy legs and hairy bodies,” he said. “They’ve got these patches on their bodies that they pack pollen into and bring it back to the nest.”
Gift mom plants that will bloom from Spring all the way into the Fall.
“Starting in the spring with wild geranium and then go into early Summer with some of the indigos, blue indigo, yellow indigo. Mid-summer, the black-eyed Susans are really great. Orange coneflower is a type of black-eyed Susan,” Woodbury said.
Woodbury says to not forget the goldenrod, its pollen is heavy and falls to the ground and won’t affect allergies.
“Think about aromatic aster, which is the last thing to bloom in the garden,” he said.
This winter was harsh on trees. If you need to plant something new, consider the tree that supports more life forms than any other in North America.
“Think about an oak tree. The quickest growing, long-lived oak trees to consider are Swamp White Oak, Bur Oak, and Shingle Oak. They grow very quickly. They have beautiful shapes. But they can also live for hundreds of years,” he said.
And when you grow native, you may even get a snack out of the flower garden. Virginia spiderwort can make for spring greens.
“I wouldn’t do this any other time of the year. But in the spring, the foliage is really tender. It makes a great addition to a salad,” Woodbury said.