Native Plants in My Garden and Work

Iris versicolor in my garden, summer 2022

As someone who spent time studying wild plant communities and habitats, I can’t help but think about plants and their origins. When I’m considering a garden, these questions come to mind – Where was found before it before it became a common garden plant? What other plants might it have grown near? And, of course, is it a native plant?

So, I’ve always chosen native plants for the main structure of my garden, especially in areas I hope to naturalize. Over the years, I’ve added trees, shrubs, groundcovers like may-apple, Aronia arbutifolia, Christmas fern, inkberry, tulip tree, oak leaf hydrangeas and more to the beds and perimeters of our small property.

In the more cultivated areas of my garden, however, North American naitve plants like Mondara, Rudbeckia and Echinacea mix with “classic” garden flowers like tulips (central Asia), Dahlias (Central America) and strawflowers (Australia). These beds for perennials and annuals remain a glorious riot of plants of all kinds, and as such, they bring me great joy. But in the quieter sections of my garden, the native plants have their moment.

So with this mix of plants outside my door, its no surprise that both native and non-native plants appear in the images I make for Bottle Branch. Today, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite spring native plants that have appeared in some of my card and other paper goods. (Tip: Any plant labelled in the photos below is a north american native plant.)

Pictured in the card above and in the opening image, Blue Flag Iris typically grows in wet conditions, and so in my garden I planted it next to a gutter downspout, where the delicate blooms arch over and among a sea of maiden hair and sensitive ferns. Blue flag iris and lupins also appear in this mini card and this mini card.

Iris crista is another delightful garden plant, pictured in the card below, and in my garden at the bottom of this post. These tiny flowers are so reliable, cheerful and easy to propagate, it’s hard to resist adding them all over the garden. Their bloom time is short, but by having them in multiple places in my garden, I’ve managed to extend the bloom time by a couple of weeks – they may bloom and be gone in once place, just as the buds are getting ready to pop open in another spot. I think they appear in my instagram feed every spring because they are just so cute!!

Native ferns are also among my favorite plants to use in the garden, especially the evergreen Christmas fern. Christmas ferns have been a mainstay of the mixed shade area near my garden shed, and they’ve proven to be a favorite for designing images, from the card pictured above, to my logo, to sticky notes, note pads, washi tape, and more. See if you can spot the Christmas ferns in all these different products.

Outside my studio, I also have a small patch of hay-scented ferns that predates our ownership of the house. Since they are so close to my studio, I enjoy watching them unfurl in the spring and turn gold in the fall. So, its no surprise that hay-scented ferns appear on so many items, including the card above, one of my most popular mini cards, this tray, and so many other items.

This spring, I hope you’ll look for these plants and other natives, in your garden or in the plant nursery. If this discussion of native plants in new to you, here is where you can find more information on WHY its important to plant native and here is a good place to learn about native plants in general, through classes, speakers, seminars and more. Stay tuned for a summer update, because, of course, some of my summer garden’s brightest stars also native plants!

Iris cristata in my garden, summer 2022

One thought on “Native Plants in My Garden and Work

  1. I agree it’s so important to plant natives. I have most of these, but instead of hay-scented ferns, we have New York ferns which are similar. They tend to take over. Iris cristata makes a good groundcover when it’s not blooming. I have spread it all over, too! We have big patches of Mayapples in the woods and Christmas ferns everywhere. They’re looking ragged right now and I need to get out and cut the dead fronds back, for the ones close to the house at least. One of my spring chores. Looking forward to the fiddle heads.


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