Going native for landscape relief

04/20/2013 7:25 AM

04/20/2013 7:26 AM

As director of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, Scott Vogt hears from people who are looking for alternatives to the traditional landscape they’ve been trying to keep alive through the drought.

“They’re looking for drought-tolerant plants that require less water and less time,” Vogt says. “A lot of times their plants have been on life support, so they’re looking for something they’re not going to be so tied to.”

Dyck Arboretum grows native plants and educates people about how to use them. One way it does that is through its FloraKansas plant sale in the spring and the fall. The spring sale starts Friday (Thursday for members) and goes for four days. Experts will be available to help in choosing appropriate plants for particular landscape situations. A new addition this year will be a native-music festival – the Prairiestock Local Music Festival, featuring south-central Kansas musicians, on April 27.

FloraKansas also will include a silent auction of prairie-inspired art.

The sale will feature plants that are native to our area as well as adaptable plants – those that are not native but that grow as if they were.

People have been looking for plants such as coneflowers and native and fountain grasses, Vogt said.

“It’s not that there isn’t going to be any maintenance. I think people are just worn out trying to keep their landscapes going and their lawns going and the added cost of keeping the landscape at a high level. …

“Unfortunately, the economics play a big part in how we landscape. If you’ve invested a lot, you feel obligated to keep it going. I think people are pretty discouraged with what has happened over the last two years, so they’re looking for alternatives to the traditional landscape. But I think people are more informed. People I think are becoming aware of the impact of water use and chemicals and those kinds of things. The issue of sustainability and being good stewards of our natural resources, I think there’s a bigger awareness in regards to that, too.”

Many native and adaptable plants are flowering perennials that need sunshine. But some people grapple with trees that are getting big and shading more of their yard, while others are looking for ground covers that will take the place of at least part of the lawn. Vogt gives some options for such plants for full shade and partial shade – and a few easy-going plants that can grow in either sun or shade.

And with the news that the number of monarch butterflies is declining, it’s good to include more and more of the plants they need in our landscapes.

These plants will be for sale at FloraKansas. For a list of all the plants that will be available, go to the website www.dyckarboretum.org, click on “Events and Classes,” then “FloraKansas,” then click on the photo. Look for “Download Additional Information” and click on “2013 Plant List.”

Partial-shade plants

Most of these plants do need at least some dappled sun; they’ll do best on the north, east and northeast sides of the house where they get morning sun but are shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Perennials: columbine (aquilegia); wild ginger; Solomon’s seal; white woodland aster; spiderwort (tradescantia); coral bells (heuchera); lily of the valley; woodland phlox; wild geranium; bluestar (amsonia)

Grasses: bottlebrush grass and river oats grass, a couple of native grasses that do pretty well in the shade, and Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), an adaptable grass that is a bit larger than other shade-loving grasses

Shrubs or understory trees: viburnum, beautyberry (callicarpa), buttonbush, oakleaf hydrangea, Annabelle hydrangea.

Ground covers: epimedium (Lilafee will be available at the sale), sweet woodruff, plumbago

Edging plant: mountain or creek sedge, which add tufts of green along the edges of a planting

Full-shade plants

Ferns: Autumn or Japanese painted ferns, “as long as they get a little more moisture”

Shrubs: oakleaf hydrangea and Annabelle hydrangea

Sun or shade

Sometimes people aren’t certain about whether an area of the yard gets sun or shade, or just how much. In these cases, plant one of these, because they don’t care.

•  Columbines
•  River oats grass

Ground covers for sun

•  Missouri evening primrose
•  Rose verbena (Glandularia canadensis)
•  Purple poppy mallow
•  New sedums such as Dazzleberry or Lime Zinger
•  Hens and chicks (sempervivum)
•  Euphorbia such as wood spurge
•  Ice plant, such as Fire Spinner, which has a reddish-orange flower. “Put it in a really hot, dry area, and that’s where it’s happiest, many of those ice plants.”

Evergreen ground covers

Many ground covers lose their leaves in the winter, especially those that are in the sun. But there are a couple of evergreen options for the shade:

•  Squaw weed
•  Vinca minor

Plants for monarch butterflies

•  A variety of milkweed, on which caterpillars feed exclusively
•  Asters
•  Liatris
•  Black-eyed Susans (rudbeckia)
•  Goldenrod
•  Native coneflowers (echinacea)
•  Pincushion flower (scabiosa)
•  May Night salvia
•  Fall-blooming Autumn Fire sedum
•  Spiderwort
•  Beebalm

Prairiestock Local Music Festival

A new element to the event this year will be the Prairiestock Local Music Festival on April 27. South-central Kansas musicians will perform hourly from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or a picnic blanket; if the weather is rainy, the music will move indoors to the Prairie Pavilion. Food vendors including Morning Harvest Farm and The Salted Creamery will be on hand. The plant sale that day will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Performing will be Jacob Penner Quintet (jazz), 9 a.m.; Thor Bonner (acoustic guitar), 10 a.m.; Book of Jebb (folk/bluegrass), 11 a.m.; the Misguided Professors (acoustic duo), noon; Delores and the Pickin’-Fretter (acoustic guitar, accordion and cello), 1 p.m.; Jammin’ Biscuits (bluegrass), 2 p.m.; Kaleigh and Howard Glanton (singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar), 3 p.m.; Raging Sea (folk/rock/indie), 4 p.m.; and Ne’erdowells (acoustic/roots/rock), 5 p.m.

About Annie Calovich

Annie writes about home and garden, including her Bit of Earth column on Saturdays. She has been at The Eagle since 1985, working as a copy editor, a nation/world editor and a reporter. She’s a KU graduate who started out at The Coffeyville Journal.

Contact Annie at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com

Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieCalovich

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