New to the idea of natives...feeling overwhelmed.

AdamM321(MA z5/6)February 4, 2005


I am reading a book called Natural Landscaping by Diekelmann. I was looking for a list of plants that would be native to New England, Massachusetts. I got a little more than I bargained for. Fascinating book but quite overwhelming. It has a list of what is now invasive in New England, and I was shocked at how many plants are there, that I just saw in catalogs and would have been thinking of ordering. I was aware of loosestrife, who isn't, and barberry and lonicera, but wow, even butterfly bush and lots more. That was the shocker, but reading further it is apparent what an EFFORT and COMMITMENT it must be to attempt to get all these invasives out of the area and try planting what is natural. I was burning brain cells just trying to follow the descriptions of the different plant communities. Lists of plants I never heard of.

I understand and agree with the underlying issues but the extent of implementation the author might be hoping for, when you stop and think about is just mind blowing.

I started reading the Native Natives thread on this forum and completely agreed with the approach April is taking as presented there. I was just starting to get my mind heading in that direction when I read that and it reinforced my own thinking.

Thankfully, I only had a few plants on the list..butterfly bush being one of them. I do have two maples that I suspect are NOrway or relative of, as they seed everywhere. Actually I didn't plant it, it was a weed sapling that we missed amongst the shrubs. I would like to get rid of that nuisance and have contemplated it often. It is the ONLY tree in our back yard and blocks the view of our neighbor, so to start all over again, with a new tree, is a hard decision to make. It ends up being a much larger project than I initially had been thinking of. Besides which I am surrounded by trees in my neighbors yards. Four large silver maples to my West, a large sycamore and firs or spruces to my North and a huge silver maple and dark leaved maple to my South. All of which will continue to reseed all over the place when I take mine down. I live in a very UN-NATIVE neighborhood. [g]

And that is far from the worst of it. The worst part I realized as I paged through the book, was the photos that represented what the landscape should look like. I LOVE what nature looks like. I LOVE wild places..BUT...I also love other landscapes that I have lived with my whole life. I like butterfly bushes and the imports from Europe and clipped boxwoods and straight lines and perennial beds and vegetable beds, etc. I guess I want the spaces and the wild areas, but I want the cultlivated area too, which I don't certainly have much room for both on a small 1/4 acre lot.

Before I picked up the book, I had been thinking of turning the corner of the yard with the maple into a little wild area with a clearing in the middle to be used for potted vegetables. I was thinking of replacing some shrubs with more natives and underplanting with native wildflowers. I am still determined to attempt some changes, but I am less sure that I can do it satisfactorily. It is a much bigger, more difficult job than I first imagined. Just researching what to plant is not the easiest, and then finding natives and getting them established is a lot of commitment and change.

Well..that is what I had on my mind today and thought I would share it and see if anyone else has felt this way and resolved it for themselves and would like to share it with me. :-)


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Read the torah and talmud of natural gardening: Noah's Garden and Planting Noah's Garden, by Sarah Stein. You'll be convinced that it's both vital and doable to go native. Noah's Garden will convince you to make changes, and Planting will tell you how.

It does seem overwhelming at first to eliminate alien invasives, but remember that your property will be affected by only a handful of species. In other words, there are indeed many invasive species, but you will not have all of them! Once you learn to recognize the ones you have, you will learn to control them. One you eliminate the mature individuals, to the extent that's possible, it will be relatively easy to get rid of new seedlings each year. So take it one step at a time.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 2:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
joepyeweed(5b IL)

The Diekleman book is a great. Its gets a little technical and yes it can be intimidating. You dont HAVE to be plant nazi and remove all alien species from a yard. if they are already there, are not invasive, and are not causing any problems you dont HAVE to remove them.

I think your best bet is to start with plan and then proceed in small steps. lots of native enthusiastics encourage you to start small and build as you learn. otherwise it CAN be overwhelming - too much work - and you might get discouraged. patience is required, as it takes a couple of years (or more) to get a mature native planting that takes your breath away.

I agree with Elaine NJ6 that Noah's Garden is another great read, particularly for someone starting out. The author may sound a little preachy (like we all do when we get on our high horse about how superior native landscaping is ....) I think you will find too that Sarah Stein leaves some plants/trees that exist rather than removing them just because they are alien.

The home we recently moved into has alot of spring tulips and daffodils. It also has a few hostas and a few fall crocuses. I am not going to make an effort to remove any of these plants. However, i also am not going to make any effort to maintain them either. I imagine eventually the hostas will die off. and i think the bulb plants will probably eventually crowd themselves out to a point where i may feel compelled to dig them up. but it aint gonna happen any time in the near future.

I have another friend, who actually is considered the prairie queen in this area. She plants all native but she also includes a few pine trees in her plantings. Pine trees are not native in our area, but they provide great shelter/cover for birds.

So whats the point, i think i am rambling. if you have done research on what would have been the natural condition of your land then you are on the right track. Its my opinion that its helpful to consider your landscape as a habitat or an ecosystem. The closest you can get to the orginal ecosystem is good, but not mandatory. Select plants that are appropriate for the soil, water, light and climate that exist, while keeping the ecosystem/habitat in mind. you will be pleased.

You may also find help by joining the native plant society of your state. I personally have learned tons by doing volunteer work at a local nature center. i highly reccomend that to anyone who has one nearby.

another great source of wisdom for beginners is

for good photos and descriptions of plants, i like and

i would also reccommended reading Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac. Eventually, you may want a Newcomb's field guide.

Welcome to the world of Natives - i think you will find that it becomes addicting - and you will want to read more and learn more and spread the joy of natives to everyone.

Here is a link that might be useful: a nice introduction to native landscaping

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ahughes798(z5 IL)

I've got butterfly bushes, and I'm not going to remove them. I like them. I just make sure to dead-head them. Keeps the blooms coming, too. No seeds, no invasion, LOL! I've got a tree peony, morning glories, cosmos, scabiosa, knautia macedonia, phlox, thrift, sweet william, greek oregano, english heather, crocus, tulips, rudbeckia "prairie sun", and more, done cottage garden style in the front yard lining both sides of the driveway. I will be removing a lot of these this spring as I want to go more native in the front yard. But I won't remove all of them. The front yard will be about 90% native when I'm done, if ever. My backyard is all native plants, except for some gooseneck loosestrife, some of which I'm going to relocate to the front yard. The rest of it will go for compost.

You can have a formal garden with native plants. I've seen it done, and it looks really good.

You can also interplant vegetables and herbs with your natives, or in any flower bed. I did this last year. I got lot's o' tomatoes out of my front yard. The neighbors never noticed! The compact varieties of squash plants have pretty leaves and make gorgeous blooms. I also made borders with mesclun lettuce mix.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 9:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I find it a bit overwhelming. My first mantra is to try not to let these things set seeds. When I am out walking, I pull dandelion heads, and put them in garbage, or head them up if I'm going to compost. I also try to dig invasives, and try to do that off season, when they are less likely to put out side shoots. This workd fairly well with garlic mustard, which will come up whole in late fall and early spring, but not in summer. I met a woman in Australia with about 100 acres, and whe goes our every day and sets a target for weeds to pull arount her perimeter.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 7:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ahughes798(z5 IL)

It is overwhelming, sometimes. Oh, when I think of the Queen Anne's Lace I will have to remove from the little prairie............All we can do is a little bit at a time. April

    Bookmark   February 5, 2005 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand how you feel about your trees We originally had more trees when we first moved here 22 years ago. But lost two in storms Then our local township gave us two free trees which they planted for us at least 16 years ago I had no idea if they were native or not But found out recently they are not they are sawtooth oaks They are pretty large now and since I have very few trees I am not getting rid of them anytime soon But I have planted a few native trees around them in the mean time. You are from Massachusitts and I have two of William Cullinas books. Have you been to his garden in the woods? Sarah

Here is a link that might be useful: New England wildflower society

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 11:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
croakie_SC(SC Zone 8)

I'm extremely lucky in that the mature trees in my yard are all natives, not by any planning but because they didn't cut them all to the ground when the house was built. On the other hand there are some invasive non-natives in my yard, most notably the English Ivy. I have pulled several butterfly bushes and upright lantana this winter and have a few more butterfly bushes to pull. I'm starting on the ivy this weekend. All trees and shrubs that I'm adding to my yard now and in the future will be natives. I can't change the entire yard and pull all of the non-native invasives at once and it will take years before they're gone. They've been there for years, I don't think there's a rush now. I do the best I can and try not to make it worse ongoing and eventually it will be done. That's how I look at it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ahughes798(z5 IL)


All you can do is the best you can do. Do a little at a time, and don't drive yourself nuts! Gardening is supposed to be fun! Always keep that in mind. april

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 12:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jillmcm(z6 PA)

I felt very overwhelmed at first myself, and I tended to try to bite off more than I could chew (weed out more than I could pull?) at first. I'm a little more relaxed about eradicating the millions of invasives, trying to do a little bit at a time - but I am more zealous about only planting natives (to avoid future problems). I also find that I am leaning more and more towards creating natural looking landscapes - right now I mostly garden traditionally with native species, but I am loosening up as I get comfortable with the idea of having a garden that doesn't look like the one I grew up with! I think we all reach a comfort level, but every little bit we do (and every time we convert others to gardening with natives) helps.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 6:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
arvind(San Jose, CA)

There is nothing wrong with introducing natives to your garden, one at a time. Enjoy the journey, the process. Don't obsess about getting somewhere fast, especially if you are not sure where you want to go.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we organize a tour of home gardens landscaped with natives, and few of our gardens are 100% native. Most aren't. Indeed, one of the goals of the tour is to show how natives can be integrated into a regular home garden. Any garden with 30% or more native content is eligible to enter. Our only requirement: the natives be featured prominently -- it is a native garden tour, after all. The tour is extremely popular: 1800 registrants last year, 6000+ garden visits. This year's tour is on Sun, April 17.

Here is a link that might be useful: Going Native Garden Tour

    Bookmark   February 17, 2005 at 7:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
serenoa(z8b, FL)

For those of you who feel overwhelmed by the exotic pest plant issue, consider that it has taken the U.S. over two hundred years to get to this point. In the early 1900's, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had an active program of introducing new plants to the U.S. from around the world. Lots of individuals have contributed to the problem in the last century. Exotic invasives did not become a big issue until relatively recently - partly as a result of our ongoing loss of natural areas. The government can spend millions on public lands but it will take a strong grassroots effort to change the millions of acres of private property across the country. We won't solve the problem overnight.

Keep these issues in mind as you make garden decisions, keep educating yourselves, and share your concerns with your neighbors and friends. Personally, I find it heartening that more and more gardeners are taking this issue seriously.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 9:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)

I have kept up with the responses here. I am feeling less overwhelmed then I was. A lot of good responses. I think I can manage with the slow and steady response. I also liked the idea of not letting anything set seed that is a problem until you get it out. I have already changed my order for spring plants and seeds accordingly. I think I am off to a good start. I was already doing pretty well, but now and doing even better. Yes, it is heartening to see people are more serious about doing what they can to stem the problem.

Thanks for all the book suggestions and website links. Yes, I have Cullinas book home from the library now. Ordered native seeds and hoping to plant this week. Yes, I have been to Garden in Woods, but never at the right time to see the spring display. Would like to go again.

Thank you all,

    Bookmark   February 20, 2005 at 2:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Just an update...I had the opportunity to have some shrubs ripped out this spring and am adding lots of native shrubs and plants. I also got seed from G in the Woods, and voila, some seedlings are up, thanks to the winter sowing forum. I just came back from Garden in the Woods last weekend and came home with a few more native shrubs.

Feeling much better about going native..thanks all for the encouragement.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
MarcR(z 8 OR)

In a situation such as you describe, total restoration is probably impossible and certainly unfeasible. Most non-native plants are also non-invasive. the only 'Butterfly Bush' (Buddleja)which is rampantly invasive is B. davidii and there are cultivars of B. Davidii which are well behaved. I advise you to plant what you enjoy as long as you use non-invasive species or varieties; and incorporate as many native plants as will intrgrate well with the things you enjoy. Your garden is an extension of your home and it exists primarily for your enjoyment. As long as you don't threaten your neighbors enjoyment of their gardens with noxious weeds, you should feel free to exercise your own tastes in any way that pleases you!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 8:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can certainly relate to feeling overwhelmed. I fantasize about doing a total redo of our property, but I've had to accept the fact that there are some invasives I have that I will have to live with for the time being, because of neighbors who are not like-minded..... "I've lived here 35 years, it's always been here, and I really like it!", my neighbor told me when I suggested getting rid of the honeysuckle bushes on our property line.... sigh...

At least it provides lots of cover and nesting places for our many bird friends, and screens the property of the neighbor. I'm trying to keep it in check the best I can otherwise.

The inherited non-native wisteria, english ivy, wintercreeper, pachysandra and euonymous are all things that are overwhelming, but I will try to eradicate them over time, with patience, reminding myself it doesn't all have to be done overnight. My husband did like the wisteria, but has just gotten on the native bandwagon with me and is willing to try to tackle it. I'm thrilled he has come around..

I also have enough of a lot of lovely, well-behaved non-native shade plants-- you know, the hostas, astilbe, heuchera, etc., which I don't want to give up, but i am focusing on adding natives, natives, natives.



    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 9:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Thanks Marc and Gina,

I appreciate that supportive post. I agree with that approach and am now feeling a lot more settled about it. When I was trying to decide about what vine to grow along a fence recently, I was looking for a native choice. I found that there were a number of natives that are quite invasive and something I would never plant. And as you pointed out, there are quite a few non native choices that are very well behaved. I am choosing native honeysuckles and native virginia creeper, but still...finding myself in a situation where a native was not a good choice, [like porcelain berry vine] made me put the whole thing in a better perspective.

I am also in a good situation as far as not endangering any surrounding areas. We are in a development that is quite close to a highway. We don't have any natural areas around us for miles and miles. All my neighbors that border my property don't even grow shrubs in their back yard, or perennials, they have grass which grows up to the lot line and gets mowed every week. I have always been cautious of planting invasive plants as I am low in energy and prefer not to have to struggle to keep something in bounds.

We are very aware of the invasion of non natives into the landscape and hate it and are commited to trying to replace with natives as much as possible. Just not all at once. [g] But this problem with non natives, is a very complex problem too. For instance, what about the cornus florida? It is succumbing to disease in it's native areas and it would not be advisable to plant it. So then what? Now they have some cultivars that have been grown that are not susceptible to the disease, which is a cross between a kousa and a florida, but the trees don't berry up. So again, we as a human race keep trying to solve problems as they come up but sometimes our solutions are as bad as the problem. What can we do but keep trying and doing our best.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 6:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Read Ken Druse--his books are verry clear, inspiring, and not overwhelming, plus he has a balanced approach to the issue that I find encouraging. I have his little book 80 great natural habitat plants--and find it a very nice introduction. A cautionary note--down here in NC, Honeysuckle has become an invasive nightmare--so pick carefully. (I've just spent hours pulling it out of trees)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gmehl(z5 PA)

I started with natives because, frankly, they were a lot easier to grow in what must be the world's most awful patch of ground for gardening (chestnut oak ridge in NE PA). I figured if they belonged here, they ought to do well. I got a few then a few more... you must all know the story. I think I'm up to 120 or 130 species now.

You take one little patch at a time and have a good time, and you stop when it is no longer a good time. I never saw it as some sort of holy cause -- well, except for making a home for endangereds -- and because I limited myself to the 200 or so species native to this area, I've been rewarded by some charming and interesting plants that grow and spread profusely. I am by no means a horticulturalist or botanist. Just the stuff that would grow here naturally if it weren't for the doggone deer (now fenced out)

As they say, it's the journey, not the destination.

Next project: a relatively small but highly and diversely populated rock garden for all the really tiny natives... who needs a lot of room? this rock pile is maybe 10x10 feet. But it holds hundreds of plants...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2005 at 8:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Hi Adam.

Don't let yourself get to the point of feeling overhwelmed, it takes the fun out of the gardening/restoration/woodland.

We just moved from another city into a city property that is build inside a woodlot. Half our yard is modern, groomed and has a mix of native and non-native/ornamental plantings and trees. The other half is grass, just totally naturalized woods. Basically it is the woodlot as it stood for almost a century. It was a mess when we first built our house. Full of garbage from the builders, felled trees and carpets of non-native invasives such as oriental bittersweet and garlic mustard. Not to mention poison ivy which wouldn't bug me but we have two small kids and 'had' a dog at the time who loved to romp through the brush. In order to keep things from getting overwhelming I just took one project at a time and dealt with just that one thing. Clean up was first. We didn't want to remove too much of the natural forest floor so we removed just enough branches to make paths though the small area. We figured they were most important to keep the kids and the dog from tromping on natural/native plants and destroying them. Very little was actually moved *off* the property, most was just moved to the side of the paths. Next I tackled the oriental bittersweet. A job that was hand-callousing to be sure. It took me 3 seasons of constant pulling and digging to get rid of it but now it's down to just finding the odd sprout left from a root I missed. Last spring I dug into the Garlic Mustard... it was a daunting task but could only be good for the woods as it was choking out wonderful natives like dog-toothed violet (trout lily), Jack in the pulpits, red and white trilliums and a few other naturally occuring natives. It took me two full seasons (spring and summer) to remove most of the garlic mustard. It self seeds prolifically so I will have more new plants this spring but after this I should have a good firm hold on it with just seedlings from outside my property to deal with in the coming years. Although our woodlot/neighborhood is full of poison ivy, we were very fortunate to find only one branch of it in our yard and it was growing under the fence from our neighbor's home so we asked permsision from them and dug it up completely.

To keep the research of natives local to our city from feeling overwhelming I just keep a file on my computer with headings "local to the city and area" and "local to our region" and just add in species as I learn them. Initially I was looking for too much info all at once and it was becoming more of a chore than a hobby so I just left the files and as I found more info I would just add to it as I went. This way it is much more relaxing and I can enjoy other aspects of my woods as I go along. My list of natives has gradually become quite long for trees, shrubs, plants, ferns and mosses and now I can use my list to make purchases to fill in and restore the woodlot.

Being a second or third growth woodlot it has the typcial features. It has nice ground growth but the trees are up to 70 and 80 feet tall with high canopy and nothing between the floor and the canopy so one of our goals is to restore that inbetween area and give the woods a fuller, more natural appearance. We've taken our list of trees and researched which of those species will work as "undergrowth" species (basically those which will thrive in shade) and gradually purchased a few to place in select areas where they will get some sunlight even in the darker parts of the lot. We did the same with our list of native shrubs, plants, ferns and mosses. Because the woodlot has not completely been developed *yet*, we have also walked out beyond our property and collected some plants and mosses that we moved into the wooded part of our yard. A lot of it is trial and error too so you can't let yourself get stressed when something you try, doesn't work out. Just because it's native does not always guarantee that it will thrive in your particular soil conditions, weather conditions, landscape etc. Our lot and the ones near it are built on a hillside that is the entire west side of our city. Our city is built on clay which sits over top of naturally occuring gravel deposits and limestone. Our soil is very clay and sand and although we get a lot of precipitation the fact that we are on a hill and that the soil drains well and that the ground water sits low due to the gravel deposits, we needed to learn by trial and error what plants do well with the quick drainage of our soil. We've planted all native ferns yet some thrive while others die off quickly. What we do is then go to our computer files again and make notes beside each species to remind us of how that species behaves under the existing conditions. For example, osterich ferns which love moisture, are native here and before we learned what was under our soil we thought would do well but due to the quick drainage they do very poorly except in spots that are low and hold water longer. These notes were made next to our "osterich fern" entry. Other species like the Christmas Fern which did really well over-wintering and is thriving was noted this spring in our database and we will use these notes when we go to make purchases at swap meets and garden centers.

Most important, just take your time to enjoy the improvements as you go. Don't make it into such a "job" that you get tired of it. Make it a "work in progress" to keep it a hobby and something that you enjoy. Stop to enjoy the hard work you put in each day. Sit down on a log and listen to the birds who you will be giving a nice home, enjoy looking at the individual plants. Look for areas where you might like a whispy bush or a tall tree or a feathery fern. Envision what might be there in the future and formulate little "plans" as you go along. All those things keep it from getting "overwhelming".

Another nice thing to add to your work in progress is an unassuming bird bath and some bird feeders. It's so nice to have birds flitting around and singing when you are down on your knees pulling and cursing the alien invasive plants that are killing the good stuff. ;o))


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 12:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)


I just checked back with this thread and find there are three posts that I didn't receive in my mailbox. Sorry I didn't respond to them.

Zenda, thanks for the book recommendation. :-) On the Honeysuckle, you didn't mean the native varieties, right?

Gmehl, sounds like a lot of natives..! How did you do the research to find out that many natives for your area?

Barb, thanks for all the detailed input on how you researched and kept yourself from getting overwhelmed. Sounds like a BIG job you have taken on there. Do you have any photos?

Yes, I have some birdbaths and feeders and houses. The birds are great!

Thanks all very much...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 6:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm looking for native grasses that I can use in my horse pastures. I've seen that some horses won't eat little bluestem, even though they are reportedly appropriate for grazing. Does anyone have recommendations or experience before I seed my pastures?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
terryr(z5a IL)

naturallynorris, you'll get a lot more responses if you start a new post with your question....

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
florah(z9 Leesburg, Fl)


I would stay away from Virginia Creeper. It grows rampantly over bushes and into trees on our NJ property, but it does not want to cover the chainlink fence in the back.
I don't have any honeysuckle, but I have heard that it can cover a parked car in a few hours. :-)
The knowledgable participants here can probably recommend a better behaved creeper.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 6:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have no problem with virginia creeper in my yard,it stays in the trees,I'd stay away from chain linked fences though.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 1:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi flora and NY woodsman...

Thanks for posting about the Virginia Creeper. Last summer, I bought one and chickened out for planting I had read a few posts that really scared me away from using it for what I wanted to use it for. I don't have a nice woodland setting like NY woodsman and I think it looks very nice going up the tree. In my 1/4 acre suburban yard, it would be nothing but trouble. Now I have a plant I don't know what to do with.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A little bit at a time may be the way to go if you are feeling overwhelmed. You can start by identifying what you already have and keeping what is native and getting rid of anything that is truly invasive and thereafter slowly replace your other non-natives (that are not invasive) with natives over the years.
I second the reccommendation of Sara Stein's books.
I have not found virginia creeper to be particularly troublesome but I am also dealing with a larger lot. If you still don't want the virginia creeper perhaps you can give it to someone who does and get to know another native gardener in the process. If the maple is a norway you might want to get rid of it for the sake of the rest of the world and because it is hard to grow much else near one.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi Bob,

I appreciate your comments. I did want to point out to all that this was originally posted in February of 05. I have found myself posting to an old post a number of times and didn't realize it. Easy to do. I am glad this post was resurrected as it gives me an opportunity to update.

Wow, it has been two years since I posted that. So what has changed since then? Well..I don't feel overwhelmed any more and I have arrived at a comfortable pace at making changes to native. My maple tree remains and I feel fine with that decision. As I pointed out before, I am surrounded by maples of the same variety and removing mine will not make a difference at all in my immediate neighborhood. I do still hold out hope of taking the tree down, but one thing at a time.

We removed a 100ft shrub border of old overgrown shrubs and started with a clean slate. Have started adding native shrubs and perennials. Clethra, a gray dogwood that someone here recommended, lindera benzoin, oakleaf hydrangea, ninebark and viburnums and a small dogwood tree and amelanchier tree so far.

We are enjoying the new plants in the yard, but the change has not been without cost. Ripping out that whole border has exposed our yard all along our back lot line and we have no privacy at all whereas before no one could see into our yard. That is another reason the tree has remained. So when our new border fills in enough to give us some privacy we may find we are ready to take the tree down. Has anyone checked prices on having a tree removed? I have been hearing $1,000. Pretty steep!

As for perennials...we created a long 50 ft raised border along our vegetable garden and are in the process of adding butterfly plants and other natives. Asclepias, echinacea, joe pye weed among others. We are now just beginning to add shade natives. This seems to be a little more difficult because they are expensive and not as easy to start from seed as the sun lovers are. I also am on a budget so I look for seed trades and for some reason the shade plant seeds seem to be scarce.

We have also started buying more and more from the NEWFS here in Massachusetts. That is new. I have also met and have started corresponding with at least two other GW members who are also interested in native plants. Plus it just seems to me I am running into more and more posts on GW that mention an interest in natives. That is very encouraging.

So..two problem plants that are still in my yard are one burning bush, that is slated for removal as soon as we can get to it. The other is a spring poppy that is not the native but the import from China. I have started pulling the non native poppy two years ago, but still am getting back some reseeded ones evidently. I think this will be the year though. I just ordered some native poppy seeds from NEWFS and hope I get good germination. I am ready to pull the next generation of the old poppy and that might do it for me then in goes the native poppy and voila! lol

I am enjoying it and feeling good about it. So I hope that encourages everyone in the native forums that all your time spent responding to posts and answering questions and trading seeds is making a difference.


    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 6:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Congratulations on your nativeness! If you remove a large tree I would suggest hiring a true arborist and not some knucklehead. Costs for tree removal have a lot of variables (size, difficulty, species of tree, and good old supply and demand). Removing a large tree for $1,000 is in the ballpark. I had a big one done here in NY for about $850. My aunt in MO paid about $1,000 to remove a large tree (since when did NY get cheaper than MO? I might have gotten a sweetheart price due to having sent much prior business to the arborist). On the plus side, you could have all the firewood you need for a while. If you keep wood chips from a norway maple you might want to let them compost for a while before adding them to your garden since they are a little bit alleopathic or just use them on paths. Folks on the soil forum would know more details on exactly when it would be safe to use those wood chips. Removal of a large tree will also bring in more light which you might like.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hah! Hadn't heard that norway maple chips were allelopathic. I've been using a big pile of them as mulch for about three years (as it's composted), and they've really kept the weeds down -- maybe that's why. I'll just have to make sure I don't try to start any tender seedings among that mulch. Although, to think of it, I've had some lobelia seedlings do well in that area.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 4:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Norway Maple, Ailanthus and Walnut are all alleopathic. I have used chips from all of them but after some time in a pile.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

Hey Adam! Glad to hear that things are coming along pleasantly for you now. Your new beds with the native shrubs sounds wonderful! I love all the species you chose and they will look fabulous in the autumn. You might also look into the native burning bush to replace your older non-native species once you find time to dig it out. It's a tough species to find but not impossible. It's called "Eastern Wahoo" or "Euonymus atropurpura" and has the same bright scarlet autumn colour. I see you are a bit saddened by your lack of privacy but those shrubs will grow quickly and you can add a few more here and there or even build up a slight berm to give the illusion of height. I know there are laws against raising grades but most people don't know this and if you are modest about raising it only slightly and then easing it back to ground level at the edges, nobody is going to complain.

You asked if I have any photos and I do but they are old and I really need to update. It's an animated GIF that I've made and continue to add to, so I can see my progress. It's hard to show it on this forum b/c by the time you scroll down to this message, the cycle of animation will be over because I think I only looped it, twice or three times. I'll adjust that next time I add a photo but for now it doesn't really work well in a forum situation. This spring and summer I'll take more pictures and post them and I'm quite sure your thread will still be active.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 6:09PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Annuals, Biennials, and Short Lived Perennials
I am interested in compiling a list of the above, mainly...
Is it cheating to use varieties that were bread from natives?
For example, instead of native Itea virginica, using...
A couple beautiful natives
Any idea of what these are? I think the star is a...
Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b
Echinacea tennesseensis
Does anyone here know the difference in the endangered...
Callery Pear Forests
Today I had a shock. We were driving through the way...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™