published Saturday, September 8th, 2012

5 tips for choosing durable native plants

Ruth's golden aster is only found on a few miles of river bank along the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers in Polk County. Staff at the Cherokee National Forest plan to kill of some of the plants that threaten these rare flowers.  
Photo by U.S. Forestry Service
Ruth's golden aster is only found on a few miles of river bank along the Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers in Polk County. Staff at the Cherokee National Forest plan to kill of some of the plants that threaten these rare flowers. Photo by U.S. Forestry Service

IF YOU GO

What: Marie Humphreys Fall Open House & Native Plant Sale.

When: Noon-5 p.m. Sept. 21, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 22 and 1-5 p.m. Sept. 23.

Where: Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center, 400 Garden Road.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 821-1160.

Website: www.chattanooganaturecenter.org.

The 25th annual Fall Open House & Native Plant Sale is scheduled for the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center beginning Friday, Sept. 21.

The sale features hardy native plants meant for the conditions of the area (long summers and warmer winters), and all have been propagated from seed, according to a news release.

About 95 species of plants will be available, said Paola Craddock, greenhouse manager.

Many native plants are good for attracting wildlife to gardens, Craddock added.

"Many people like to provide food for wildlife -- for birds and butterflies," she said. "This time of the year it's really exciting. This time of year you can see a lot of monarch caterpillars on butterfly weed. This is good for people who like to attract butterflies and birds to their garden."

The free event will also include guided hikes, bike rides, canoe tours and other activities.

Here are Craddock's tips on five plants to consider.

FIVE TIPS

1. Ornamental grasses. Many ornamental grasses actually improve the quality of the soil due to their deep roots, Craddock said. "They offer year-round landscape value because even in the winter, when they are dry, they are usually attractive."

2. Shrubs. Look for different species, including native azaleas and hydrangeas. Fall is a good time to plant shrubs, as it gives the roots plenty of time to grow throughout the winter.

3. Aster. The colorful, daisy-esque perennial blooms late into the season, when summer blossoms are fading. Select a moist, well-drained site with good sun exposure.

4. Ground cover. Ground covers can create points of interest in the garden, Craddock said. Some covers are evergreen. "You'll be able to see them over the winter as well."

5. Vines. Several types of vines, including passion vine, will be available for sale. "It's always fun to have some vines to give a vertical interest to the garden," Craddock said. Passion vines are among the plants that attract butterflies and birds.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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