Native shrubs are the answer to landscaping needs


If you’re planning spring landscaping, think Indigenous! Whether it’s trees, shrubs, or ground cover, natives provide long-lasting shelter and often sustenance for birds and wildlife as well as the beauty of your surroundings.

Consider fruit bearers like mountain ash, serviceberry, hawthorn, elderberry, wild raspberry, gooseberry, Oregon grape, thimbleberry, sumac, and ground covers like kinnikinnick, strawberry of the woods and the Dewberry. Don’t forget the four native species of rose which not only perfume the environment but provide leafy and thorny shelter followed by nutritious rosehips for winter food. Also, alder and willow catkins are “fruits” appreciated by finches

The green leaves and pretty white flowers of serviceberry (Amelianchier alnifolia) are the first native shrub to welcome spring. The flowers are followed by long-lasting blue-violet berries that are popular with birds.

Although technically a shrub, serviceberry can literally grow into a large, tree-like focal point, so give it plenty of room. In the landscape, it can add beauty and drama when planted as a focal point or in front of any evergreen, preferably a tall one. In the fall, blue berries (seeds), which can be quite delicious, appear and the leaves turn red and last longer, often confusing blueberry pickers in boonies who don’t always distinguish between plants .

Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea) is another possibility. Its dark green pinnate leaves and umbels of white flowers turn into a magnificent, flamboyant display with clusters of dusty/dark blue berries. Like serviceberry, it is a hardy native and can grow very large, so let it stand alone or in front of tall trees. currant, etc. All currants have attractive clusters of drooping flowers in shades of red or pink, sometimes white – resembling mini-fuchsias, later joined by foliage, then fixing the fruit which can be red or black. Ideal for jelly.

The wild Rubus family, raspberry and blackberry, is always welcome. Red raspberries and blackcaps are smaller but equally sweet versions of the domesticated varieties, and the tall, arching branches of the tall wild blackberry are priceless treasures wherever they are found, providing spectacular elegance, delectable fruit and shelter. priceless birds.

For berry trees, you can’t beat mountain ash. Sitka mountain ash (Sorbus sitchensis) is our native, more shrubby variety with large orange-red berries. It transplants well and is available at some of our nurseries in the area. It offers beautiful fronds of green to yellow to red pinnate leaves and is an asset to any landscape in addition to being a bird magnet.

The native hawthorn (Crategus) often called “Thornapple” is attractive in its own way, sometimes growing in a gnarled, almost oriental fashion. Its vicious thorns negate its popularity somewhat, but provide wonderful protection for songbirds, which also enjoy “haws” or fruit.

Shorter possibilities include chokeberry (Aronia), which grows as a small tree or shrubby bush depending on the location of the site. The leaves turn a glorious red and the shiny black berries (also red) make a good jelly. The shrubs put on a showy display of delicate white flowers in May.

Sumac, too, is a possible choice. Staghorn sumac, with its “hairy” stems and incredible clusters of red flower seeds, is an exceptional sight, and although slow to start, it will grow into a tall, beautiful specimen with winter red leaves to enhance the clusters that attract birds. .

When it comes to ground cover berries, the previously mentioned possibilities can improve your landscape regardless of site and soil, since each is suited to a variety of locations: Kinnikinnick handles dry, sunny sites with aplomb; The Alpine strawberry (fragaria) prefers a little more moisture and richness but, like all natives, loves our naturally acidic soil.

Dewberry – (Trailing Blackberry – Rubus), while sporting needled vines, which tangle with the feet, is ideal for slopes or open areas where you don’t want anyone intruding. You’ll enjoy the small but delicious black berries in early fall, but don’t get your ankles tangled in the needle-like thorns.

You can find many of nature’s wonderful gifts for your own landscaping and remember that they are only the tip of the iceberg: native plants, once established, do not ask for or need no particular care: never fertilizer! no pesticides – ever! They give freely of their beauty, generosity and robustness. All you have to do is harvest what you want and leave the rest to the birds!

Visit our local nurseries for more fruit or ornamental tree ideas to showcase your property. Also take a stroll at the Native Plant Society Arboretum, next to the Bonner County Museum. I’m proud to be one of the original pioneers/creators when it was ‘born’.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 208-265-4688 for questions between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at 208-265-4688.



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