Updated: Jul 17, 2022
Scientific Name: Salvia nemorosa x superba
Common Name: Woodland sage
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
Salvias are one of my favourites because I think they look fantastic paired with grasses, other perennials, and woody shrubs. With this variety, we see gorgeous purple-blue long-lasting flowers that will flower again after being cut back. Not only that, but they have a persistent, maroon-purple calyx that gives us some interest even after flowing. Having multi-season interest is extremely valuable in the landscape. The decussate leaves are oppositely arranged and are toothed. This perennial grows to be about 40-75cm tall and will be very attractive to pollinators. It would be best grown in full sun, with well-draining soil.
Scientific Name: Arisaema consanguineum
Common Name: Himalayan cobra lily
Family: Araceae (arum family)
This unique looking perennial adds an exotic element to the woodland garden. Arisaema consanguineum can grow up to 3 ft tall, as long as it has ideal growing conditions; irrigated landscapes, nowhere near the hot afternoon sun. It has umbrella-like leaves, sometimes with up to 20 on one stalk. The single cobra inflorescences are dark green and stripy, adding some very interesting elements to the garden. Sometimes, the flowers will set seed with bright orange-red pods nearing fall time (Great Plant Picks, n.d.). In China and the Himalayas, this species might be used to treat coughs, epilepsy, and rheumatism, whereas, in Nepal, the leaves are boiled and eaten as vegetables. However, it contains oxalic acid and raphides which can be very irritating and poisonous, so don't eat it or use it to treat your cough unless you're confident you know exactly what you're doing... (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, n.d.).
Scientific Name: Paris polyphylla
Common Name: Whorled honey flower, many-leaved Paris,
This herbaceous perennial is one that doesn't look like a whole lot until you get up close. Paris polyphylla loves shade and moist soil that is well-draining in winter. If this species is happy in its conditions, it will continue to grow and grow. This species grows from a fleshy underground crown. It has unusual whorled leaves that surround flowers. The bloom has up to 8 green sepals with long yellow thread-like petals and a round purple ovary. The pollinated flowers burst open to reveal orange seeds in the fall. I think they would be great near a path or somewhere that could grab people's attention.
Scientific Name: Penstemon serrulatus
Common Name: Beardtongue, cascade penstemon
Family: Plantaginaceae (plantain family)
One of the easier penstemons to grow, this rhizomatous perennial boasts erect stems of trumpet-shaped flowers. The showy flowers (usually pink or purple) attract tons of bees and last a very long time unless it gets super hot. In this way, it is best practice to plant this native perennial where it will get half a day of sun, and better yet, on a slope where it can have good drainage. At the UBC Botanical Garden, it was planted on a raised bed about hip height, which really grabs visitors' attention as they pass by. Debbie Teashon at Rainy Side Garden mentions that when it has an unpleasant odour when it gets hot and humid, so it's best not to plant it downwind or near seating areas.
Scientific Name: Alchemilla alpina
Common Name: Alpine Lady's Mantle
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
This deciduous perennial forms a low-growing mound that is a great choice for a groundcover in a sunny patch of landscape or garden. This species is also easy to grow and reliable as it requires little maintenance. It has green leaves divided into 5-7 leaflets with shiny silvery edges and backsides. They flower in early to mid-summer with sprays of small chartreuse inflorescences. It looks great in rock gardens or rocky areas, borders, containers, or edging a path.
We didn't have class this Wednesday, but I had some thoughts about a topic we discussed on Monday. There is big talk in the landscape architecture communities about native gardens and using exclusively native plants in planting designs. It's like, the second someone says they've used an exclusively-native planting palette, everyone makes a mental stamp of approval in their heads. However, Doug gave us a super brief lecture about the reality of native plants- they attract native pests. Of course, on the contrary, native plants also produce native pollinators, which is critical. An interesting journal article titled Considering the unintentional consequences of pollinator gardens for urban native plants: is the road to extinction paved with good intentions? (2017) by Johnson, Fetters and Ashman pose some interesting questions on the impact of pollinator gardens in general. They mention that wildflower gardens attract dense pollinator communities, but in turn, they function as a hub for bacterial and viral pathogen exchange. They conclude by saying that in order to preserve both plant and pollinator biodiversity, then it is imperative that we predict the kinds of interactions that might occur between the plantings and pollinator populations (Johnson et. al., 2017, p.1302-1303).
It is worthy to note that all species, native or not, have individual niches and ecological interactions that affect how well the landscape functions. But, it seems to be best practice to avoid native-only gardens and mix in some exotic species. In Planting in a Post-Wild World (2015) by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, they suggest it is always a good idea to being a planting palette with native plants, as a starting point for selecting plants naturally adapted to the specific site (Rainer and West, 2015, p. 41). But, they say including both native and exotic plants will not only expand the list of choices in creating a compelling garden but will also expand ecological functions (Ibid., p.42). Additionally, in regards to aesthetics, native plants are more likely to look shabbier toward the end of the summer as the native pests have gone at them, so it's best to plant some exotic ones to maintain a clean and robust aesthetic throughout the season. Ultimately, I believe landscape architecture isn't a spelling bee in which we must always ask "country of origin?". It is much more critical to be diligent in studying pollinator and plant species interactions or consulting a professional who can ensure your selections are appropriate in each unique scenario.
"Alchemilla alpina (Alpine Lady's Mantle)." Gardenia.net, https://www.gardenia.net/plant/alchemilla-alpina
"Arisaema consanguineum." Great Plant Picks, https://www.greatplantpicks.org/plantlists/view/164
“Arisaema Consanguineum.” Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, powo.science.kew.org/taxon/urn:lsid:ipni.org:names:85609-1#descriptions.
Johnson, Anna L., Andrea M. Fetters, and Tia‐Lynn Ashman. "Considering the Unintentional Consequences of Pollinator Gardens for Urban Native Plants: Is the Road to Extinction Paved with Good Intentions?" The New Phytologist, vol. 215, no. 4, 2017, pp. 1298-1305.
"Paris polyphylla (Whorled Honey Flower)." Keeping It Green Nursery,
Rainer, Thomas, and Claudia West. Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 2015.
Teashon, Debbie. “Penstemon Serrulatus.” Rainy Side Gardeners, www.rainyside.com/plant_gallery/natives/Penstemon_serrulatus.html.