Among gardeners andnature-lovers, there has been a gradual migration from a just-plant-something
philosophy to a plant-something-useful philosophy over the past ten years or
more. It’s not that raising roses and lilies is frowned upon, it’s more that we
are being urged to add a few herbs or vegetables, shrubs that make berries or
put in more environmentally friendly native plant varieties.
There is a free online course
available at www.ecosystemgardening.com.
The author Carole Sevilla-Brown defined the Five Pillars of Ecosystem
Gardening: Sustainable Gardening, Water Conservation, Plant More Native Plants,
Build Soil Health, and Remove Invasive Plants.
Making the change is easy to do
if it is done in small steps. For example, when a tree, shrub or vine dies or
becomes too large for its location, it could be replaced with something more
friendly to the environment such as a variety that requires no insect spray or
less irrigation than the one that was there before.
The next stage of moving toward
a sustainable garden is to put in plants for wildlife. Those steps include:
Planting food for wildlife, making water available, planting shelter plants and
making a safe space for wildlife to raise their young.
Clark and Connie Shilling of
Owasso have built a wildlife-friendly garden at their home and will be speaking
at Muskogee Garden Club on Oct 16 at 9:30 am. The club meets at the Kiwanis
Senior Center, 119 Spaulding Drive.
Shilling and his wife have
flowers in the front yard, a lawn for recreation and a fenced off wildlife area
where they started planting wildlife food ten years ago.
Clark said his talk will be
about the imperative of including native plants in our gardens and about what
we as gardeners can do to help support native wildlife.
Among the fruits that produce
quickly for wildlife food, Shilling says that plums are a good choice.
particular, sand plums grow into thickets that make fruit in just a few years.
And, they are self-fertile so gardeners can just buy any plants available.
Native Sand plums, Prunus
angustifolia, known as Chickasaw plum, Cherokee plum and Sandhill plum, are
available from Mail Order Natives, www.mailordernatives.com
or 850-973-0585. They can also be grown from seed or from cuttings taken in the
wild but it will take a couple of years longer to have mature plants. OSU Fact
Sheet HLA6258 explains everything you need to know about Oklahoma native plums
Sand plums need at least 6-hours
of sun. At maturity they can reach 15 feet tall and wide. They have scaly,
black bark with red branches. The flowers arrive between Feb and May, followed
by the red plums that look like large cherries.
The Shillings also grow
Muscadine grapes that they use for making beverages as well as sharing with
wildlife. He recommends Ison’s Nursery
and Vineyards (www.isons.com (800)
733-0324). The Ison’s Black Muscadine is self-fertile and one plant is enough for
eating, even when the birds take some.
Other fruit that can be valuable
to wildlife includes Elderberries and
Flowers can also play a part in sustainable
gardening. Wine Cup, Callirhoe involucrate is fairly easy to grow in full sun.
They form a deep taproot so they are very drought tolerant. The flowers are
Native to TX, OK and KS, Wine
Cup, or Purple Poppy Mallow, is a trailing perennial with magenta, cup-shaped
flowers. Seeds are available from Easy Wildflowers www.easywildflowers.com and
container-grown plants are available from MO Wildflowers (www.mowildflowers.net).
Come to garden club on Oct. 16
to get advice for growing a wildlife-friendly garden. The presentation will
include information on native plants that add color and beauty to a garden but
also serve as key links in a natural food chain.