Have you been hunting for natives?
This week I remembered seeing a grove of pinxterflower, Rhododendron canescens, blooming in the woods behind my shop in the spring. I made a mental note then to go back once the plant would be dormant and see if I could negotiate a rooted member of the cluster. I am happy to report that I was able to prize two choice members from the colony without disturbing the largest, and most mature, 2/3 of the group.
I have recently become fascinated by the natives we live with in the Carolinas. When I lived in Shelby, NC, I was able to score a sweet bubby bush, Calycanthus floridus, from my very own back yard. As most of you know, with wild Sweet shrubs, the "sweet" aspect may or may not prove true. I therefore dug one heavy blooming and one pungent selection from the woods and potted them together for the full effect.
Anyway, while I was in the woods this week I decided to take a long walk to see if I could find any fallen oak branches with Resurrection fern, Pleopeltis polypodioides, growing along the bark ridges. I am happy to report I found a very good sized log covered with the curious little epiphyte. One of my favorite things about the coastal south is the live oak and it's provided habitat for the Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, and the resurrection fern.
While on my trek I came across a bejeweled specimen growing atop a mound of topsoil which had been stationary for probably ten or more years. I was delighted to find a berry producing native and proceeded to help myself to a sucker, two, really, laden with red berries. I quickly ran to the computer to see what I had found and discovered... you guessed it Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, covered with bright red pomes which look amazing against the backdrop of another native, an evergreen red cedar, Juniperus virginiana. I planted the two specimens closely for optimal pollinization, but was careful to site them in an area where any colonizing would be "welcome" as opposed to "rampant."
Additionally, I was able to procure a couple of beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, while on my little shaded voyage of discovery. These too were planted near one another for maximized cross pollinization.
I am truely lucky to be in the Carolinas, where I can find something amazing around every tree trunk. I'd like to know if any of you go a'hunting for natives and what you bring back. What natives are you growing in your gardens? Do you prefer natives to imports, or are you an equal-opportunity-grower?