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Virginia’s Mostly Native Garden

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We’re visiting with Virginia Sherry today.

A lifelong gardener, I am the founder of the nonprofit Native Plant Society of Staten Island (in 2019). As summer draws to a close, I treasure what is still blooming in my landscape. Most but not all of the species are native to eastern North America.

Many people dismiss field thistle (Circium discolor, Zones 3–9) as a weed. While these plants are spiny and not for many gardens, if you have space to let them grow they are wonderful nectar sources for pollinators, and the seeds are enjoyed by birds.

close up of a purple and yellow aster flowerNew England aster (Symphyotricum novaeangliae, Zones 4–8) is just beginning to bloom. Asters are one of the great highlights of the late-summer and fall garden and are a wonderful food source for pollinators as they get ready for the winter.

close up of brown-eyed SusanBrown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba, Zones 4–8) is a beautiful, heavy-flowering plant. Individual plants of this species are perennial but tend to be short-lived. However, they will often self-sow when happy so that you can have blooms in the garden every year.

close up of tiny blue-purple flowersThough not a U.S. native, super-fragrant Russian sage (Salvia yangii, Zones 4–9) is a favorite of bees, who love its small blue flowers, and of gardeners, who love its beauty and great drought tolerance.

close up of Autumn Joy stonecropAutumn Joy stonecrop (Sedum telephium ‘Herbstfreude’, Zone 4 – 11) is one of the classic plants for the fall garden. It is durable, easy to grow, and gives a long-lasting display that pollinators adore.

close up of a bright yellow and pink flowerIf you want the long flowering period of an annual, but in a spot that gets dry and can’t be irrigated regularly, portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora, annual) is a great choice. The succulent leaves make it thrive where a petunia or impatiens would dry up and die.

close up of tiny purple flowersAnise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum, Zones 4–8) is a great, long-blooming native perennial. The leaves have a nice scent to them, and it can bloom pretty much all summer into fall, especially if you deadhead it.

close up of Jumpseed seedheadsJumpseed (Persicaria virginiana, Zones 4–8) rewards those who take a closer look at the intricate details of the developing seedheads.

close up of pink garden phloxHere’s a last hurrah for garden phlox (Phlox paniculata, Zones 4–8), surely one of the most popular native perennials of eastern North America. Every garden needs garden phlox, and the pollinators agree!


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