Serving Franklin County, WA

Inspiration from the Garden

Series: Gardening by Osmosis | Story 1

I don’t need more inspiration to write a gardening article than to see the efforts my plants are making to insure my happiness.

Forsythia and lilacs have finished their show, bridal wreath spirea blossoms have dropped to make room for the fragrant mock orange bushes and honeysuckle vines, and vibrant magenta blooms on the peonies and gorgeous colors of iris have all but erased the memory of tulips and daffodils.

The transition to summer finds the frenzy of spring chores much less demanding.

Analysis is the order of things at this time in the garden.

What plants are thriving and what plants need to be replaced.

Need I mention unexpected change? The exuberant spring growth of many trees, shrubs and perennials now requires more room. Like teenagers at the dinning table, they not only need room for their arms they need room for their feet.

It isn’t against the “rules of gardening” to remove or transplant overgrown specimens.

When selecting new additions it is important to match environmental conditions. Similar soil, water, sun, and light requirements will help your new plants transition much more easily.

A growing thing is not necessarily a sacred thing.

Take for example the tall grass that invades your flower and vegetable gardens.

Other trespassers include chickweed, bindweed, black medic, spotted nap weed, common burdock, Canada thistle and a host of others. To help you identify and learn how to discourage these weeds call the Spokane County Master Gardeners at 509-477-2181 or email for information on how to prepare live samples.

Some weeds, others may refer to them as ‘Native Plants’, may find a home in your garden as well.

I have incorporated Achillea, the aromatic white blooming yarrow in my drought tolerant garden.

Centaurea, cornflower or batchlor buttons, provide many colors besides blue.

White, pink, purple, and blue color combinations flower throughout the summer and are goldfinch magnets. Redstem filaree, a feathery low growing plant grows unattended in rocks and cracks in the driveway.

Galium, cleavers or sweet woodruff acts as a ground cover for shady areas. Chamerion, fireweed, is a graceful tall purple flowering accent against my rock wall. Tanacetum, Common Tansy has dark green foliage and clusters of yellow flowers later in the summer until fall. Dipsacus, Common Teasel is a biennial whose dramatic purple flowers are protected by splne-like bracts the second season.

These are excellent plants for pollinators, however like most native plants that are overly nurtured, these “weeds” need to be managed. By cutting flower heads before the plants go to seed the chance of your natives meandering into the neighbor’s yard will be reduced.

In our area, The Blue Moon Nursery has Native Plants for sale. It is much wiser to purchase live plants than to try and transplant from the wild. In fact most Native Plants don’t transplant well from the wild.

I find it exciting to introduce my dependable old favorite to the newcomers, the Native Plants, that were actually here first!

— Margaret A. Swenson is a Washington State University Master Gardener. To contact a master gardener, call 509-477-2181.


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