Native Plant Profile: Amelanchier

I could probably talk about Amelanchier until my voice gave out (at least an hour!). It’s such a great multi-season plant in the garden, and brings so much value to wildlife, as well. It’s also a great example of how native plants convey a “sense of place” that is not imparted by conventional, non-native plants in the garden.

Although the Genus is distributed across the Northern hemisphere, the greatest diversity is found in North America. As you can see from the BONAP distribution map, Amelanchier diversity is the greatest in the Northeast. New York State hosts 14 species, varieties, natural hybrids, and subspecies. And New York City is home to 6 of those.

2013 BONAP North American Plant Atlas. TaxonMaps - Amelanchier

Amelanchier in my garden

Amelanchier was one of the key plants I included in my backyard native plant garden design in 2009. To fit my design, I needed a tree form with a single trunk and broad canopy.

Final rendering, backyard garden design

Most of the species grow as multi-stemmed twiggy shrubs. In my design, I specified A. arborea, the only species that would normally grow with a single trunk. But straight species are difficult to find in the horticultural trade. Even nurseries specializing in native plants are unlikely to carry this species. I would likely need to find a “standard”: a plant grown with a single trunk that normally wouldn’t.

In Spring of 2010, I went hunting for a specimen for my garden. I found one at Chelsea Garden Center on Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It was the second most expensive single plant I’ve ever bought. But worth it!

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

What I found is Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’, a selection of a horticultural hybrid of two species: A. arborea and A. laevis. So arborea is in there somewhere! This cultivar was selected for its vividly colored autumn foliage. But any of the species will have beautiful fall color.

The new serviceberry, planted and mulched, May 2010

Their peak bloom in our area is just weeks away, before the ornamental cherries, and the dreaded callery pear. We’ll follow the seasons, starting with where we are right now, Winter.


This is Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ in my backyard, as viewed from a bathroom window, after our January snowstorm.

Amelanchier in snow in my backyard, January 2022

Winter into Spring. Here’s a lengthening and expanding bud on my backyard Amelanchier, which I shared last week. It still looks like this. These terminal buds will become the flowers.

Detail, buds, *Amelanchier* 'Autumn Brilliance', serviceberry, shadblow, in my backyard, February 2022

Bud break. The emerging inflorescence is covered in dense silvery hairs, which offer protection from late frosts. The leaves will emerge later from separate buds along the stems.

Flower Buds, Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'


The big show is coming soon! It’s the first woody plant to bloom in my garden, early April or even late March in warm Springs. Two common names refer to its bloom time. Shadblow, because it would bloom when the shad are running. And serviceberry, because it bloomed when the ground had thawed enough to bury winter’s dead.

Over the next few weeks, these distinctive furry flower buds continue to expand.

Buds, Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

As they mature, the inflorescences start to turn more upright and the pedicels lengthen. The whole tree turns a little less furry and fuzzy.

Flower Buds, Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Flower Buds, Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

Finally, the buds start to open, revealing the bright creamy white of the petals. At this stage, they almost look like flowering peas.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

When the flowers are fully open, they reveal their true nature. Amelanchier is in the Rosaceae, the rose family. Here you can clearly see the five-fold symmetry of rose relatives. At this stage, the leaves just start to emerge.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'
Morning Glory: Amelanchier still shy of full bloom in my urban backyard native plant garden

In full bloom they are spectacular and conspicuous in the landscape. This is when you are most likely to notice them, if you haven’t been stalking their progress all along, as I might do. Even at highway speeds, they are recognizable when flowering. There’s a line of them along the McDonald Avenue border of Green-Wood Cemetery. My commuter bus drove down this road on the return trip from Manhattan. I would sit on the right side of the bus to soak them in.

Garden hybrid Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance' blooming in the backyard, April 2020

NYC is home to many bee species — especially mining bees, Andrenidae — that specialize in flowers of the Rosaceae. Most of our bees are solitary bees, and many of them nest in the ground. They are only active and visible for a month or so, as the females prepare new ground nests and provision their eggs with pollen balls. The rest of the year, the larvae and pupae are underground, slowly maturing, or aestivating through the winter, waiting for next year’s Spring.


Juneberry is descriptive: Berries ripen in the summer, typically June. Ripening berries on my backyard Amelanchier in 2011. They turn dark reddish purple when ripe, but good luck getting to them before the birds and squirrels. Technicaly edible, this cultivar’s fruit are mealy and seedy, better left for wildlife. Other species are used for making jams, or enjoyed right off the bush.


When we first bought our house, our next-door neighbors had an old, failing apple tree in their backyard, next to our shared fence. The fruit never ripened. Monk parakeets loved to munch on the apples.

They were also visited by cedar waxwings, another bird I had never seen before They seemed to love picking insects off the flowers in spring, presumably to feed to their young, as much as they enjoyed the fruits in summer. After our neighbors had their tree taken down, we rarely saw the monk parakeets, except when they flew overhead. And we never saw the waxwings again. I hoped another Rosaceae would bring them back.

This intent has been successful.

Cedar waxwing in my Amelanchier, juneberry, June 2018

The berries are enjoyed by many different birds in my backyard.

Catbird in my Amelanchier, juneberry, June 2018Zonotrichia albicollis, white-throated sparrow, in my backyard Amelanchier, serviceberry, April 2020
Turdus migratorius, American robin, juvenile, in Amelanchier, serviceberry, in my backyard, June 2019Turdus migratorius, American robin, in my backyard Amelanchier, January 2021


Amelanchier‘s autumn foliage is brilliant, after all. This is from its second Fall in my garden, a year and a half after planting.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance', Serviceberry

This is from November 2014, four years after planting.

Morning Glory: Amelanchier/Serviceberry 'Autumn Brilliance' leaves peak in my urban backyard native plant garden/habitat

Related Content

Twitter: #WildflowerHourNYC Twitter thread, 2022-03-09

Related blog posts:

Flickr, photo album: Planting a Tree


Wikipedia: Amelanchier
BONAP North American Plant Atlas, county-level species Genus distribution maps: Amelanchier
MOBOT Plant Finder: Amelanchier
NC State University Plant Toolbox: Amelanchier
Plants for a Future

Pollen Specialist Bees of the Eastern United States, Jarrod Fowler

Garden Design Pattern Languages

Adapted from a tweet thread.

In a guest post on the ASLA’s “Dirt” column, Alden E. Stone, CEO of Nature Sacred, writes:

[Our new report] is part research and part practical guide, and shares key insights gained through having co-created more than 100 Sacred Places across the country in communities, many under-resourced; in prisons, at universities, and in hospitals. A handful of these sites were also implemented as part of an expansive, decade-long design, build, and research project. …

For the research portion of this paper, we focused our attention on four domains: nature’s impact on individual, community, economic and ecological health. …

for many of the individual and community health benefits to kick in, people must engage with nature. Spend time in the green space. And this is where Nature Sacred has spent a lot of energy over the past two decades — looking at how to best engage the community and how to best design so that the community embraces, and spends time in, their green space.

She describes four “design elements”:

  • Portal
  • Path
  • Destination
  • Surround

These design patterns recur in many different types of gardens, whether intentionally healing/sacred or not.

My backyard embodies all four elements. What follows is an exploration of the history of my backyard, from inception to its current state, viewed through the frame of those four design elements.

The Backyard, House Opening Party, October 2005 The Backyard, ready for visitors, June 2021


My first sketch of the backyard, just after we bought our house. You can see portals/transitions, paths, seating as destinations, and the surround of enveloping plants. (Even though we had just moved in, I was also fantasizing about changing out the whole back of the house and adding a rear porch to better connect it with the backyard. That never happened.)

Backyard Garden Design Sketch, 2005-06-22


By our second Spring, I better understood how light and shade shifts over the garden throughout the year. The plan is refined and made more specific, less conceptual. The Gardener’s Nook is now defined. The driveway-backyard portal shows up: the garage and house both connected and separated by a fence and trellis through which one would pass to enter the backyard from the driveway.

Backyard Garden Design Sketch, 2006-04-30

Using the sketch as a guide, the loose circle shown in the opening photo gets tightened up, better defined. Bringing the sketch to life, the desination Gardener’s Nook – the upper left of the sketch directly above – makes it first appearance with a pair of Adirondack chairs and some decor. Plants in containers begin to define the surround. An umbrella substitutes for the missing tree canopy.

The Backyard, May 2006


A year after that, things are really coming together. A trellis establishes the portal entrance from the driveway into the backyard. This filters the line of sight into the backyard, which beckons one to venture through, and past.

Filtered View into the Backyard from the Driveway, July 2007

The center of the circle gets filled in. A table both provides central desination, and defines a circular path around itself, echoing the initial concept sketch. Logs double as seating and a layer of surround. The plants are now getting large enough to provide a second layer. My rear neighbor thankfully provided a fence, closing off the backyard and completing the surround.

The Backyard, July 2007


Winter 2009: My Garden Design class final project is my backyard, striking a balance to maximize planting area – a deep surround – while retaining space for people. Curved borders echo the original spiral.

Final rendering, backyard garden design

Although the built environment of that design is never realized, the plan and its rough dimensions inform all later changes. Later that year, I transplant a large shrub. This gives the backyard a sense of enclosure, the “surround”.

After transplant


I plant an “understory” tree which will provide overhead enclosure, a vertical surround. As I had specified in my garden design, I selected an Amelanchier, which goes by many wonderful phenologically evocative common names. It serves as a replacement for the old apple tree my north-side neighbors had in their backyard, adjacent to our shared fence. Eventually, it brings back the cedar waxwings I enjoyed seeing amongst its flowers.

The new serviceberry, planted and mulched, May 2010


The portal/entrance to the backyard gets a major makeover. I register with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. My garden itself becomes a destination, and welcomes its first public visitors.

Arbor entrance
Certified Wildlife Habitat sign


The garden hosts a wedding, its first use as an intentionally sacred space.

Ancestor's Altar, Jay & Syd's Big Fat Queer Wedding, October 2014


Five years later, the shrubs and other plantings have matured, and the surround of enveloping greenery and flowers has been realized. The Gardener’s Nook is now a fully-sheltered spot, a desination tucked into the larger embrace of the garden.

Morning Glory: My urban backyard native plant garden & wildlife habitat


This garden continues to be a sacred/healing space for many over the years. It was sanctuary for our dear friend David. After he entered home hospice, he would call a car service to deliver him to the garden. Here he is in the Gardener’s Nook two weeks before he died.

David Charles Ashley, in my backyard, July 2018, 2 weeks before he died


Today, 16 years after that first sketch, the backyard has realized its final form. Visitors say they feel like they’ve walked into the woods, the highest praise.

Portal, path, destination, surround – all embodied, and felt, in the garden.

Entrance through the arbor to the backyard, June 2021

Related Content

Hot Sheets Habitat, 2021-11-19
Home of the Wild, 2020-05-14


Alden E. Stone, New Research and Roadmap for Creating Healing Green Spaces, ASLA Dirt Guest Column, 2021-12-14

Nature Sacred

Home of the Wild

A month ago, Carrie Seltzer (@carrieseltzer) created the “Home Projects” iNaturalist Umbrella Project – a Project of Projects – for “personal” Projects of people’s homes, gardens, or yards:

As we all more closely inspect our immediate surroundings as of April 2020, it seemed like a good time to pull together some projects that capture biodiversity in homes around the world.

Carrie Seltzer on iNaturalist

Growth of a Garden

I’ve been gardening in New York City for four decades, over four different gardens. I’ve incorporated native plants in each garden, though my knowledge, understanding, and focus, has shifted and grown over time.
Bombus citrinus, lemon cuckoo bumble bee, on Helianthus in my front yard, August 2018

Since I started this, my fourth garden, in 2005, native plants have been a significant focus. From the beginning, I envisioned the backyard as an entirely native plant garden.
Final rendering, backyard garden design

Over the years, the native plant portion of the garden embraced more and more species, and covered more ground, escaping the confines of the backyard. As the garden matured, and its diversity increased, I saw a huge increase in the number and diversity of insects visiting the garden. 

The Backyard viewed from the Aerie, April 2020

I found online communities to help me identify what I was finding. My first submission to BugGuide was in 2007. My first submitted iNaturalist Observation came a decade later.

Since I had already established the conditions in my garden, I chose to register it with organizations promoting conservation at home. In 2011, I registered my garden with the National Wildlife Federation as Backyard Wildlife Habitat #141173. A year later, I registered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation as a Pollinator Habitat. And in 2017, having established milkweeds in my garden, I registered with the North American Butterfly Association as a Butterfly and Monarch Garden.

Habitat Signs displayed in my front yard, October 2017

Flatbush Gardener’s Garden

Two years ago, I created an iNaturalist Project for my home and garden: Flatbush Gardener’s Garden. My initial goal in creating a Place and Project on iNaturalist for my home garden was to make it stand out as a biodiversity hotspot. With over 320 Taxa recorded so far, I have succeeded in that goal. As of today, I’ve recorded 40 species of bees alone!

So far I've found 40 Bee species in my garden

Mine was one of the first Projects to be added to “Home Projects” after its launch. As of today, there are 19 Projects from four continents.

Umbrella Projects come with some cool features, including automatic “Leaderboards” which rank constituent Projects by their numbers of Observations, Species, and Observers. At the moment, Flatbush Gardener’s Garden is in first place for number of Observers! Granted, there are only 19 Projects so far, but many of them are large. My garden is roughly 2200 square feet/200 square meters, of plantable area. So, I’m pleased with my garden’s showing, placing 4th in Observations, and 6th in Species!
iNaturalist Home Projects Leaderboard: Flatbush Gardener's Garden is #1 for Observers!

My garden has been on tours. I use it to conduct lectures, workshops, and pollinator safaris. It’s a field site for my observations, a demonstration garden, a laboratory, a classroom.
Me hosting the NYCWW Pollinator Week Safari in my Front Yard. Photo: Alan Riback

Last year, I held a hands-on iNaturalist training in my garden. This was followed by one of my popular Pollinator Safaris so folks could practice right away, get real-time help and guidance, and ongoing feedback trough iNaturalist.
Gardening for Wildlife, and Birds, brochures, and magnifiers, generously provided by Jen Kepler of NY Aquarium

Each of those who attended, as well as past Observations from other friends and colleagues, automagically becomes an Observer on my home project. Which is how Flatbush Gardener’s Garden comes to rank high in number of Observers for a Home Project.

This time of year, I would be opening my garden for tours, hosting workshops, or talks on gardening for habitat. I’m missing that, and hope to find ways to do some of it online.

Until then, stay safe, take care, and find peace in nature nearby.
NYC-native Rhododendron periclymenoides blooming in my backyard

Related Content

This blog post started as a brief “News” post on Flatbush Gardener’s Garden. Later that day, I expanded it into a thread on Twitter.

Blog Posts


All my iNaturalist Observations (not just from my garden)

All my BugGuide photos (BugGuide provides no way to link to “Observations”)


Sunday 6/23: Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants

Me hosting the NYCWW Pollinator Week Safari in my Front Yard. Photo: Alan Riback

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be hosting a pollinator-focused garden tour and citizen science workshop in my garden for Pollinator Week, in association with NYC Wildflower Week.

Event Details

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019
Time: 1-4pm
Location: Brooklyn, NY, corner of Stratford Road and Matthews Place
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Eventbrite

1-2pm: I’ll be focusing in using iNaturalist to observe and identify insects in the garden. Create a free account on iNaturalist, and install the app on your smart phone. I’ll show you how to make observations in the garden with your phone!
2-4pm: We’ll explore the garden, see examples of how to garden for insects and pollinators, look at insect-plant associations happening in the garden, and, optionally, make observations with iNaturalist.

These times are a rough guide. You can drop by any time.

What can you see?

With roughly 200 NYC-native species of trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers, my garden hosts scores of native insects that use these plants throughout the year.

I’ve been documenting these residents and visitors on iNaturalist. Here’s what I’ve seen in June over the years:

My garden is registered with several programs dedicated to creating and preserving habitat:

  • National Wildlife Federation: Backyard Wildlife Habitat # 141173, May 2011
  • Xerces Society: Pollinator Habitat, June 2012
  • North American Butterfly Association: Butterfly and Monarch Garden and Habitat, July 2017

Related Content

2014 Pollinator Safari

Related Posts, , ,


Plant Blindness and Urban Ecology

A small patch of biodiversity – i.e.: weeds – from my driveway.
Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal has people talking about it, e.g.: on the Twitter. The term “plant blindness” has been in use for a while, especially among those of us intensely interested in the subject of plants, from gardeners to botanists.

“Apps” and Social Media

I’ve seen folks get more interested in plants when they can reduce, or eliminate, the risk of being shamed by others for ignorance. (Which is nothing to be ashamed of, nor to shame others for. We all start out ignorant. Choosing to remain so, on the other hand …)

I’ve been on BugGuide for a decade. This is an expert-curated Web site where you can upload observations of any insect – and many other arthropods – seen in Canada and the continental United States. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from the experts there, both professional and “amateur”, and continue to do so. However, it is curated; I’ve had many of my photos “Frass”‘d – trashed – because they did not meet someone’s standards for image quality. (“Frass” is caterpillar excrement.) So I can’t rely on BugGuide as a record of my observations, even for insects. Even so, I’ve often wished for the equivalent for plant identification.

The widespread availability of handheld computers with visual processing capabilities – i.e. “smart” phones with cameras and displays – has given rise to applications such as PlantSnap to help people ID plant “on their own”, without having to ask others for help. I’ve not been impressed with the accuracy of such apps. And better alternatives are available.

The rise of iNaturalist has been astonishing, and refreshing. Anyone can upload any observation of any living organism anywhere in the world. The technology behind iNaturalist is also a decade ahead of BugGuide. Geotagging and labels are automatically picked up, you can explore observations by region or place, or even just be exploring a map.

Anyone can assist in identification. This community aspect raises it up to the level of social media. I know a lot of conventional garden plants; I can help those who don’t know a Rhododendron from a Hydrangea by identifying their observations. I may even be able to go back to the same plant to confirm what it is, using the geolocation. In this way, I’ve made more identifications of others’ observations, than observations of my own.

Countering Plant Blindness in Urban Settings

When I’m sharing my knowledge, informally or formally, I find that people welcome the opportunity to learn new ways of seeing. It could be discovering that there are different kinds of bees, or that an asteraceous “flower” like a daisy or sunflower is not a single bloom, but hundreds of flowers. I’ve yet to come across someone who wasn’t excited to learn something new about living things that have been there all the time, right around them, where they live, not in some distant, inaccessible “preserve”.

We’ve had an unusually rainy year. The first half of this August gave us twice as much rain as the average month. A good time for the weeds; not so much for the gardeners.

I’ve been joking that the weeds are so out of control that I should do a “Bio-Blitz” of my own driveway. And why not?! Let’s get started.

Here is a small section, maybe 10 square feet in total, of the broken up concrete we call a driveway. How many different plants can you find in this photo? (Don’t worry, we’ll get some closer looks.) If, at first, your eyes glaze over and just see green, let’s practice. Are there any differences among all that green?

  • Is it all green? I see some yellow and brownish spots (aside from the leaves) in there.
  • Even among the green, is it all the same shade of green? Some is lighter, some darker. Maybe some has more yellow in it.
  • How about texture? Some seems coarse, some seems fine. Maybe those are different leaves, warranting closer inspection.

Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

Instead of looking down, let’s look from the side. Now we can see there are many different heights and shapes of the plants themselves (and more evidence of an inattentive Gardener). The field of green starts to distinguish itself into groups of vegetation, even individual plants.
Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

Let’s start to look at some groups. Let’s call them A, B, and C.

Group A: How many different kinds of plants can you see in this photo?
Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

Group B: How about this one?
Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

Group C: Feeling confident? Let’s go back to the photo at the top of this post. How many different plant species are in this small patch, no more than two or three square feet in area?
Weeds in my driveway, August 2018

My answers:
A: 2 (maybe 3): crab grass, and Euphorbia (might be two different species)
B: 3, at least: The above two, plus Oxalis stricta, a native weed.
C: 7, at least: The crab grass and Euphorbia, plus Viola sororia, a foxtail grass, horseweed, and two I’m going to iNaturalist to ID to species: an Acalypha, copperleaf, and the one with pretty little yellow flowers (seems like a Sonchus, a sow-thistle, but the flowers don’t look right).

Now, I’m still a native plant gardener, and it is a driveway, not a garden bed. Once I’m done with my IDs, I’ll pull all the weeds. But knowing which weeds are native, and which are not, I can “edit” my weeds more selectively elsewhere in the garden, leaving the natives to pop up where they like, and reducing the competition from the non-native species. Thread by thread, I can weave ecological associations back into the landscape, even if it’s just a few square feet at a time.

Related Content


Rhododendron? Hydrangea? America Doesn’t Know Anymore, Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal, 2018-08-14 (PAYWALLED)

Blooming Now

NYC-Native Species

Asarum canadense, wild ginger

Fragaria virginiana, Virginia strawberry

Geranium maculatum

Geum rivale, purple avens
Geum rivale, water avens, purple avens

Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple

Polygonatum biflorum

Rhododendron periclymenoides
Rhododendron periclymenoides, pinxterbloom azalea

Thalictrum thalictroides

Vaccinium angustifolium, lowbush blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry

Viola lanceolata, bog white violet

Viola sororia, dooryard violet (several different varieties)

Zizia aurea, golden alexanders

Eastern Regional Native Species

Dicentra eximia
Fothergilla major
Phlox stolonifera (in bud)
Polemonium reptans, Jacob’s ladder
Sedum ternatum
Stylophorum diphyllum, woodland poppy
Tiarella cordifolia, foamflower
Trillium grandiflorum, great white trillium

What I’m About

Notice anything different about me? Until a few minutes ago, the by-line at the header of this blog read:

Adventures in Neo-Victorian, Wild, Shade, Organic and Native Plant Gardening, Garden Design, and Garden Restoration.

It now reads:

Urban Gardening with Native Plants

This better communicates the focus of my interests and expertise than the “anything goes” byline it replaces.

How I got here

We bought our house and garden 10 years ago. I started this blog 9 years ago.

The byline I just replaced reflected the experimental approach I was taking to having so much space to play with. Heirloom plants in the front yard, which might have been available to the original gardener of our home. Shade gardening because what urban gardener doesn’t have to deal with shade somewhere? Wild, because something has to be left uncultivated. And always organic gardening.

I’ve gardened with native plants since my first garden in the East Village. Each of the 4 gardens I’ve worked on in New York City has incorporated native plants. When we bought our house 10 years ago, I had pretty much a blank slate to work with. I quickly decided that the backyard would be a woodland garden, populated with ephemerals, ferns, and others plants native to the forests of northeastern North America.

Over time, I eliminated the major invasives I had inherited, including Rosa multifloraClematis terniflora, sweet autumn clematis (SAC), and Acer platanoides, Norway maple. I succeeded in transforming the backyard from the dustbowl I started with.

I expanded the areas devoted to native plants. I took up part of the driveway so the “woodland” could expand into the “clearing” offered by the south side of the house. The front yard has enjoyed a similar transformation. I removed first one section of front lawn, then replaced most of the rest with native plants last year.

My garden has been on tour four times, three times with NYC Wildflower Week. Last month, I spoke at the Long Island Botanical Society about my gardens, and the increasing number and variety of insect visitors I’ve observed and documented.

As I’ve expanded the areas of native plants in my garden, I’ve narrowed the focus, specializing increasingly in species native to New York City. I’m growing nearly 100 NYC-native species. I’ve added another 70 species this year, and continue to expand the areas for them.

All this diversity brings in countless species of insects, including dozens of bees and wasps. I’ve identified a half dozen new species in the garden just this Spring. Summer, the peak pollinator season, is just around the corner. I look forward to what else I will find this year.

So, when people ask, I say: I specialize in urban gardening with native plants. This isn’t a limitation. I see no end to what I can discover and learn by doing so. And no end to the benefits this can bring to myself, my family, my community, and the region.

Related Content

All my Native Plants posts


Native Plant Acquisitions: LINPI 2015 Plant Sale

Saturday, June 13 was the last open day in 2015 for the Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale. I picked up another 13 species to add to my list, which has already grown this Spring to over 200 species of plants native to eastern North America. We’ll see how many of them survive my, um “gardening.”

As with all the plants available through LINPI, all are local ecotypes propagated by NYC Parks’ Greenbelt Native Plant Center from wild populations on Long Island and Staten Island. It so happens all these species are also native to New York City.


(or Asclepiadaceae, depending on taxonomy)

Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed
I bought a 6-pack of these from the LINPI Plant sale two years ago. They are blooming now. I bought a flat (6 x 6-packs = 36 plants) this time. I want to have larger groups of them in several sunny areas to see where they thrive.


Eupatorium hyssopifolium, hyssop-leaved throughwort, hyssop-leaved boneset

Eupatorium perfoliatum, common boneset, boneset thoroughwort
This species is only found in wetlands (Wetland indicator status OBL/”obligate”), so I’m planting this in and around the garage, for runoff, and planters, where it will benefit from overflow from watering.

Eupatorium serotinum, late-flowering thoroughwort
This was listed incorrectly as Eutrochium serotinum on LINPI’s web site. This is the odd one out for nativity, which is challenged by some, e.g.: NEWFS.

Solidago nemoralis, gray goldenrod
One of the shade-tolerant goldenrods, I bought a flat of these to plant them all around the house as an experiment to see where/how they fare from sun to shade.

Solidago speciosa, showy goldenrod


Vaccinum macrocarpon, cranberry
This is one of the species available on-site at the plant sale that wasn’t listed on LINPI’s web site. I already have two of these, one in each bog planter. I bought a 6-pack as an intentional duplicate. I planted 4 in the two bog planters I have. I need to fill in these planters so the squirrels won’t keep digging them out. As an experiment, I planted the other two nearby, alongside the garage, where they’ll get runoff from the roof and gutter downspout.


Chamaecrista fasciculata, prairie senna, partridge pea, partridge sensitive-pea
Lespedeza hirta
Lespedeza virginica


Hibiscus moscheutos, swamp rosemallow
Another obligate wetland species, I planted this by the side of the garage to benefit from runoff from the roof, and to server as a backdrop for this mixed shrub-perennial bed.


Panicum virgatum, switchgrass
Sorghastrum nutans, indian grass
Tridens flavus, purple top


Rosa carolina, Carolina rose


Cephalanthus occidentalis, buttonbush

Related Content

Other blog posts about my native plant garden


Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI) Plant Sale

Native New Yorkers: My Garden’s NYC-Native Plant Checklist

This is a checklist of just the plant species native to New York City I’m growing in my garden. I’m posting this for the benefit of anyone attending the NYC Wildflower Week tour of my garden, Friday, May 15, from 1-3pm. It may also be of interest to those who attended Tuesday night’s meeting of the Long Island Botanical Society. I only had time during that talk – Place, Purpose, Plants: Urban Gardening with Native Plants – to highlight a handful of plants I’m growing.

Visitors are also going to get to witness a rare treat: “My little bees”, Colletes thoracicus, are actively nest-building in the garden right now. Most years, they would be finished by now, not to be seen until April of the next year. If we’re lucky, we will also get to see the Nomada sp. cuckoo bees I just noticed in my garden for the first time this year.

Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern, Pteridaceae
Ageratina altissima, white snakeroot, Asteraceae
Allium tricoccum, ramps, Liliaceae
Andropogon gerardii, NYC-local ecotype, Big Bluestem, Poaceae
Andropogon virginicus, Broom Sedge, Poaceae
Anemone canadensis, Canadian anemone, Ranunculaceae
Angelica atropurpurea, purplestem angelica, great angelica, American angelica, high angelica, masterwort, Apiaceae
Antennaria plantaginifolia, plantain-leaved pussytoes, Asteraceae
Aquilegia canadensis ‘Little Lanterns’, Eastern red columbine, Ranunculaceae
Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern red columbine, Ranunculaceae
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, bearberry, Ericaceae
Arisaema triphyllum, Jack in the pulpit, Araceae
Asarum canadense, Canadian wild ginger, Aristolochiaceae
Asclepias incarnata, NYC-local ecotype, swamp milkweed, Apocynaceae
Asclepias syriaca, NYC-local ecotype, Common Milk Weed, Apocynaceae
Asclepias tuberosa, NYC-local ecotype, Butterfly Weed, Apocynaceae
Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’, ladyfern, Dryopteridaceae
Baptisia tinctoria, NYC-local ecotype, False Indigo, Fabaceae
Carex laxiculmis ‘Bunny Blue’, spreading sedge, Cyperaceae
Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge, Cyperaceae
Caulophyllum thalictroides, blue cohosh, Berberidaceae
Chelone glabra, white turtlehead, Scrophulariaceae
Chrysopsis mariana, NYC-local ecotype, Maryland Goldenaster, Asteraceae
Claytonia virginica, Virginia springbeauty, Portulacaceae
Clematis virginiana, virgin’s bower, devil’s darning needles, Ranunculaceae
Cunila origanoides, NYC-local ecotype, common dittany, Lamiaceae
Dichanthelium clandestinum, NYC-local ecotype, Deer Tongue, Poaceae
Elymus hystrix, NYC-local ecotype, eastern bottlebrush grass, Poaceae
Equisetum hyemale var. affine, scouring rush, Equisetaceae
Eragrostis spectabilis, Purple Lovegrass, Poaceae
Euthamia caroliniana, Slender Goldentop, Asteraceae
Eutrochium maculatum, NYC-local ecotype, spotted joe pye weed, Asteraceae
Fragaria virginiana, Virginia strawberry, Rosaceae
Gentiana andrewsii, Andrews bottle gentian, Gentianaceae
Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’, spotted geranium, Geraniaceae
Geranium maculatum, spotted geranium, Geraniaceae
Helenium autumnale, NYC-local ecotype, sneezeweed, Asteraceae
Heliopsis helianthoides, smooth oxeye, Asteraceae
Hydrophyllum virginianum, eastern waterleaf, Hydrophyllaceae
Ilex verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman’, winterberry, male, Aquifoliaceae
Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red’, winterberry, female, Aquifoliaceae
Ionactis linariifolius, Stiff Aster, Asteraceae
Juncus effusus, NYC-local ecotype, common rush, Juncaceae
Juncus tenuis, Path rush, Juncaceae
Krigia biflora, Two-Flower Cynthia, two-flowered dwarf dandelion, Asteraceae
Lespedeza capitata, Round-headed Bush Clover, Fabaceae
Lilium superbum, Turk’s Cap Lily, Liliaceae
Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower, Campanulaceae
Lobelia inflata, indian tobacco, puke weed, Campanulaceae
Lobelia siphilitica, great blue lobelia, Campanulaceae
Lonicera sempervirens, NJ-local ecotype, trumpet honeysuckle, Caprifoliaceae
Monarda fistulosa, NYC-local ecotype, wild bergamot, Lamiaceae
Oenothera biennis, common evening-primrose, Onagraceae
Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern, Dryopteridaceae
Opuntia humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear, Cactaceae
Osmunda cinnamonea, cinnamon fern, Osmundaceae
Osmunda regalis, royal fern, Osmundaceae
Oxalis stricta, upright yellow wood-sorrel, Oxalidaceae
Packera aurea, golden ragwort, Asteraceae
Packera obovata, round-leaved ragwort, Asteraceae
Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’, switchgrass, Poaceae
Panicum virgatum, NYC-local ecotype, switchgrass, Poaceae
Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virgina creeper, Vitaceae (Grape Family)
Penstemon digitalis, NYC-local ecotype, talus slope penstemon, tall white beardtongue, Scrophulariaceae
Phlox subulata, Moss Phlox, Polemoniaceae
Podophyllum peltatum, mayapple, Berberidaceae
Polygonatum biflorum, smooth Solomon’s seal, Ruscaceae
Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas fern, Dryopteridaceae
Prunus maritima, beach plum, Rosaceae
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, Sweet Everlasting, Asteraceae
Pycnanthemum muticum, NYC-local ecotype, clustered mountain-mint, short-toothed mountain-mint, Lamiaceae
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, Slender-leaved Mountain Mint, Lamiaceae
Pycnanthemum virginianum, NYC-local ecotype, Virginia Mountain Mint, Lamiaceae
Rhexia virginica, Virginia meadow-beauty, Melastomataceae
Rhododendron periclymenoides, pinxterbloom azalea, Ericaceae
Rhododendron viscosum, Swamp Azalea, Ericaceae
Rosa virginiana, Virginia rose, prairie rose, Rosaceae
Rudbeckia laciniata, cut-leaved coneflower, tall coneflower, Asteraceae
Saururus cernuus, lizard’s tail, Saururaceae
Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem, Poaceae
Solidago caesia, NYC-local ecotype, blue-stemmed goldenrod, Asteraceae
Solidago juncea, NYC-local ecotype, early goldenrod, Asteraceae
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Chilly Winds’, New England aster, Asteraceae
Thalictrum pubescens, NYC-local ecotype, tall meadow-rue, king of the meadow, Ranunculaceae
Thalictrum thalictroides, rue anemone, Ranunculaceae
Thelypteris noveboracensis, NYC-local ecotype, New York fern, Thelypteridaceae
Thelypteris noveboracensis, unknown provenance, New York fern, Thelypteridaceae
Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern, Thelypteridaceae
Trillium erectum, red trillium, Liliaceae
Vaccinium angustifolium, lowbush blueberry, Ericaceae
Vaccinium corymbosum, multiple cultivars, highbush blueberry, Ericaceae
Verbena hastata, Blue Vervain, Verbenaceae
Vernonia noveboracensis, New York ironweed, Asteraceae
Veronicastrum virginicum, Culver’s root, Scrophulariaceae
Viburnum dentatum, southern arrowwood, Caprifoliaceae
Viola lanceolata, Bog White Violet, Violaceae
Viola sororia, common blue violet, Violaceae
Zizia aurea, golden alexander, Apiaceae

About this list:

  • This isn’t all of the “native” plants visitors will see in my garden. I have half again as many eastern North American species that are not native to NYC. 
  • This list doesn’t include any plants I’ve acquired this year; I don’t “count” anything until it’s survived a year of my gardening.
  • My most treasured plants are those listed as “NYC-local ecotypes.” These have been propagated by the NYC Parks’ Greenbelt Native Plant Center from populations in and around New York City.

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Place, Purpose, Plants: Urban Gardening with Native Plants

At last night’s meeting of the Long Island Botanical Society, I spoke about my experiences gardening with native plants in an urban setting. These slides accompanied my talk.

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All my blog posts about My Garden
Other Native Plants blog posts, resources, and references
My insect photography on Flickr


Bennington, J Bret, 2003. New Observations on the Glacial Geomorphology of Long Island from a digital elevation model (DEM) (PDF). Long Island Geologists Conference, Stony Brook, New York, April 2003.