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Vegetation has many roles in cities. Shade plants help the urban environment maintain a cooler temperature year-round, limit energy consumption, and provide benefits to urban birds and smaller mammals. Many cities in the US have introduced a policy to reduce the number of trees removed by residents. The shade plant program aims to encourage shade trees to be left in place and provide a service to reduce urban cooling loads, while also providing urban residents with options to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gas production.At Lauren’s Garden Service Native Plant Nursery we are big fans of plants that support pollinators. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other insect pollinators are integral to the fruit set and reproduction of plants. Planting a pollinator friendly garden is easy. It’s important to have plants that bloom from early spring to late fall in order to supply as much pollen throughout the seasons as possible.
New York Iron Weed– Vernonia novaboriensis-Vernonia is a great native pollinator plant that blooms in the late summer and fall. You can see it along highways with goldenrod. It’s slow to get started in the summer and doesn’t start getting too large until the warm of summer kicks in. This is one that clients often look for in early spring and think that it has died but usually it just hasn’t emerged yet! Vernonia gets to about 3-5ft tall and goes well in a wild setting with other larger perennials and grasses to establish a nice meadow garden. We’ve planted it in combination with milk weed, liatris, little bluestem, black eyed susan, goldenrod, cardinal flower and monarda. See the previous photo of goldenrod to see where it volunteered itself in our meadow the year we stopped mowing our turf grass!
2. Butterfly weed– Asclepias tuberosa likes drier soil so it can be planted on the sides or berms of a rain garden. It also thrives in a meadow planting mixed with grasses and tolerates dry soil, rocky soil, deer, drought and erosion. It should set seed pretty well in your garden beds that have well drained soil. Monarch caterpillars will live on this plant, and some people say that they have seen the caterpillars eating the leaves of this plant. I have always learned that the Monarch caterpillars ate only milkweed but I guess they eat this one too! What have they done in your garden? If people call us asking for native wildflowers or pollinator plants, our top 2 must haves are butterfly weed and milkweed. This plant has also been used medicinally for lung inflammation and has the common name pleurisy root. (Source: www.laurensgardenservice.com)