Opening my flower gardens – and mind – to native plants

Anemone canadensis
Anemone canadensis

Over the past few years I have welcomed native plants into my flower beds, and Mother Nature has rewarded me with lovely contributions of her own ever since. It started when I decided not to pull a big patch of Anemone canadensis growing wild in a shady section of the garden. I didn’t know what it was and someone told me it was a weed, but I thought it was pretty.

From there I experimented with a single Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Then some ferns. Three years ago I decided to do my part for Monarch Butterflies and planted Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) front and centre. Year two I decided it wasn’t very nice to look at so I banished it to the far end of the garden. Last summer (year three) it became host to several Monarch caterpillars, and was instantly promoted to my garden favourite.

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Last summer I scored a quantity of Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) that was headed for a compost heap. It’s graceful and gorgeous this spring. I learned that the unattractive tree – the one I valued only as a post to tie my hammock to – is a Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). Black Cherry is the host plant for Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars and the source of that cloud of butterflies I see over the lilac tree every year. I found out that the interesting volunteer growing under a cedar is Bugbane (Actaea rubra), and that the young Elderberry volunteer by the house provides a rich diet for many different bird species. Last spring a lovely white Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) popped up by surprise. This spring I planted Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) among the fancy daylilies.

Ok... what is it? Holding my breath
Ok… what is it? Holding my breath

Now I’m holding my breath over something new that has come up under the hazelnut bushes. I’m sure it’s just wishful thinking but… could it be a Showy Lady Slipper orchid (cypripedium reginae)? Nah…. it couldn’t be. Could it?