Happy Weekend!? Here are a few links and resources we’ve recently come across.
New Jersey Tea Party
One of my favorite new-to-me native plants is the New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), and the fact that its named for my current home state is only part of the reason. It’s a drought-tolerant three-foot shrub with very cool clumps of white flowers in the spring, and is a host plant for several native butterflies. During the Revolution, when the tea trade was cut off, its leaves were brewed as a (non-caffeinated) substitute, hence the name.
We picked a couple of them up at the D & R Greenway’s fall native plant sale, and planted them in a sunny spot in front of our porch, replacing the invasive butterfly bush and Japanese spiraea that a previous owner had planted.
But despite the name, wild populations of the plant are pretty rare in New Jersey, and Jared Rosenbaum of Wild Ridge Plants explains why in this very cool blog post (spoiler alert: it involves fire).
Newest Trial Information from Mt. Cuba Center
Delaware’s Mt. Cuba Center has been providing us with a wonderful public service for the past few years with their Trial Garden. There they run multi-year trials of various common genera of native garden plants where they pit species and cultivars against one another to determine which ones are best for mid-Atlantic gardens.? So if you want to plant, say, coreopsis in your garden, you can check out their report and see which varieties would give you the best bang for your buck.? Their newest report just came out last week and it’s on Monarda (bee balm).
For this trial, they added a new element.? They didn’t just observe which varieties grew best and most beautifully, they also observed pollinator activity at each one, so you can also make your selections with an eye towards wildlife value.
Want Birds in Your Yard?? Start With the Plants
Lindsay just wrote about backyard birding, and things you can do to make your yard more bird-friendly.? The Audubon Society just launched a new Plants for Birds resource on their web page this fall.? There are a number of useful native plant species databases out there (see Resources on the right of the blog for our favorites), but what’s cool about Audubon’s is that you can sort by bird type. So if you live in, say, New Jersey and want to attract Orioles to your yard, you could find which plants native to your area would be best for the job (or you can use what my sister-in-law’s mother does, which I can vouch for having seen the Oriole party in their backyard: grape jelly).
Beer from the Pines!
The folks at Flying Fish Brewing keep managing to make beers that are close to my heart.? There’s their new Pork Roll Porter, which makes use of the finest of all breakfast meats. Then there’s the (sadly retired)? IPA made with coffee from Revolution, the fantastic local roasters that supply us with beans and Buddy with milkbones every time he visits. Now they’ve got a Pinelands-related beer, made with ingredients foraged from the Franklin Parker Preserve, where we just paid a visit.? This is a sour beer, which I normally avoid, but I’ll have to make an exception and give it a try in this case.