By Tracey L. Kosenski Certified Professional Horticulturist
I have compiled an extensive list of resources for you, as well as a great plant list, from both internet sources and from some really great books by some of the pioneers in the push towards creating more natural, organic andEarth-friendly gardens.
One of my favorite sayings is
“We have not inherited the earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children”
Native American Proverb
Even small changes can make a huge impact, collectively!
I hope that you find inspiration and lots of helpful information here and am also available for consultation if you would like more help .
Plants for creating Meadows and Habitat Gardens in Western Washington
While the choices are endless, these plants are tried and true favorites that are non-invasive, largely native to the Pacific Northwest or the United States, readily available in the nursery trade and if planted in the right spot prove to be very resistant to pests and diseases.
(I know, I grow a lot of them in my own garden)
Plants best suited to open, sunny areas, with average soils
Schizachyrium scoparium “Little Bluestem” Native to U.S.
Large grasses suitable as Accents or Screens
Andropogon gerardi “Big Bluestem” U.S. Native
Calamagrostis acutilora “Feather Reed Grass” try‘Overdam’ or C. x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
Chasmanthium latifolium “Northern Sea Oats” Native to U.S.
Miscanthus species “Japanese Silver Grass” or “Maiden Grass” many, many varieties available, tryM.sinensis ‘Arabesque’, M. sinensis ‘Gracillimus’
Panicum virgatum “Switch grass” Try‘Heavy Metal’or ‘Praire Fire’ Native to U.S.
Pennisetum alopecuroides “Fountain Grass” Again many varieties to choose from, try ‘Moudry’, ‘Red Head’ or ‘Tall Tails’ these are hardy, P. setacium ‘Rubrum’ “Purple Fountain Grass” is an annual in our area.
Sporobolus airoides “Alkali Dropseed” Western Native”
Shrubs and Groundcovers
Amelanchier alnifolia “Serviceberry”- SH
Celastrus scandens “American Bittersweet” stay away from C. orbiculatus
“Chinese Bittersweet” as it is very aggressive
Cotinus species “Smokebush”
Itea virginica “Sweetspire” ‘Henry’s Garnet’ or ‘Little Henry’-SH
Hammamelis mollis “Chinese Witch Hazel”-SH
Hammamelis x intermedia “Witch Hazel” Try ‘Diane’, ‘Jelena’ or Arnold’s Promise’-SH
Holodiscus discolor “Ocean Spray” (particularly useful for marine bluffs) – SH
Philadelphus lewisii “Mock Orange”(highly fragrant) – SH
Ribes sanguineum “Red-flowering Currant” (hummingbird favorite!) – SH
Sambucus canadensis “Elderberry”other varieties are S. caerulea (Edible for humans and wildlife)S. racemosa “Red Elderberry”(EDIBLE for WILDLIFEONLY!)
Vaccinium corymbosum “Blueberries” SH
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi “Kinnikinnick” (great berries for the birds in Fall)-GC
Perennials for sunny, moist areas (not standing water)
Asclepias incarnata“Swamp Milkweed” Native to U.S.
Erythronium montanum “Avalanche Lily”
Eupatorium “Joe Pye Weed”
Lilium “Lilies”Look for native varieties such as Lilium Columbianum, L. pardalinum
Lobelia cardinalis “Cardinal Flower”
Mimulus “Monkey Flower”
Perennialsfor moist, partial to fully shaded, woodland gardens
Arisaema triphyllum “Jack-in-the-Pulpit”
Aruncus sylvester “Goatsbeard”
Asarum caudatum “Wild Ginger”
Athyrium filix-femina “Lady Fern”
Blechnum spicant “Deer Fern”
Cimicifuga racemosa “Bugbane”
Dicentra formosa “Bleeding Heart”Native to the Northwest, D. spectabilis is a popular favorite
Filipendula rubra “Queen of the Prairie”
Fuschia species “Hardy Fuschia”
Geranium “Cranesbill” These are the hardy true geraniums
Heuchera species “Coral Bells”
Iris douglasiana and I. tenax-West Coast Natives
Mertensia ciliate “mountain Bluebells”Native to mountainous areas of the West
Monarda fistulosa “Bee Balm”
Osmunda regalis “Royal Fern” or O. cinnamomea “Cinnamon Fern”
Polygonatum biflorum “Solomon’s Seal”
Polypodium glycyrrhiza “Licorice Fern” Native to West Coast
Polystichum munitum “Western Sword Fern” Native
Primula species “Primroses”
Sisyrinchum bellum “Blue-Eyed grass or S. californicum “Yellow-Eyed Grass” West Coast Natives
Smilacina racemosa “False Solomon’s Seal” West Coast Native
Tellima grandiflora “Fringecups” Native
Tiarella trifoliata “Foamflower” Native
Vancouveria hexandra “Inside Out Flower” Native
Viola sempervirens “Wood Violets”
Low growing grasses for moist, partial sun to shady areas
Acorus gramineus “Japanese Sweet Flag”
Carex morrowii‘Ice Dance’
Carex pendula “Drooping Sedge”
Deschampsia caespitosa “Tufted Hair Grass” Native to U.S.
Hakonechloa macra “Japanese Forest Grass” Many beautiful variegated varieties available
Hierochloe odorata “Vanilla Grass”U.S. Native spreader, use as groundcover in moist partly shady areas
Luzula nivea “Snowy Woodrush” ( very versatile, will take sun and drier soils as well)
Molinia caerulea “Moor Grass”
Large Grasses for moist soils
Fargesia robusta “Robusta Bamboo” a very cold hardy, shade tolerant, clumping bamboo variety (Yes, Bamboos are just giant and very cool grasses) stick with clumping varieties that won’t take over the neighborhood, this one will make an evergreen hedge to 18”tall.
Miscanthus species also do very well in moist soils and part shade
For more inspiration and ideas click here; John Greenlee’s site, a fantastic garden designer and nurseryman from California who specializes in planting meadows and growing a huge selection of grasses, both Native and Ornamental.