Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden Tour!

It is always fun to get photos from Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Inc. members and curators showing us how their gardens are growing.  A few weeks ago we got some photos from Steve Rothe, a NSA member from Omaha.  Steve is an ecologist by education, and professionaly plans and manages habitat restoriation projects. Steve says '' The primary intent of these gardens is native plants and their ecological value.  But I also want a pretty garden to prove you can have both.  But you can’t just throw natives in a nice bed and expect citified behavior; so the other intent is manageability, control, with open space and mulch.''  The result is a more "gardened" look, mixed in with traditional plants and even a few exotic annuals. Steve says that in these photos are at least 35 native species. We believe you, Steve!

Gardening with natives is not without challenges. Steve tells us that the garden "was was totally overrun by aggressive forbs. This bed had been filled with natives for 8-10 years and became an unmanageable, flopping tangle of big aggressive plants.  Last year I totally revamped it, adding soil amendments, removing most plants, relocating others, and adding some new ones."  He now has a bed dedicated to just the aggressive plants.  Steve warns "
Generally, stick to species from NSA or nurseries; there’s a reason some natives aren’t brought into the garden.  Or, dedicate an island bed to aggressives, and be prepared to weed them out elsewhere."

Improving the soil is important for success.  He gardens in native clay, "I finally bit the bullet and amended substantially with good effect." He tells new gardeners "Amend clay even if you’re a natives gardener with several inches of organic and friable materials."

On maintenance he adds " It is work. Mowing is faster and easier than gardening, but more boring."

Serviceberry (tree in backround)

Coneflower, White False Indigo, Poppy Mallow

Prairie Dropseed, Butterfly Milkweed, Liatris, Eupatorium, Helopsis

Blue Flax, Little Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed and Primrose

Steve's 'Island of Aggressors'

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