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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Thursday - April 03, 2008

From: staten island, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Suggestions for native perennials in Staten Island, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My back yard garden has a good base of evergreen shrubs and perennials all doing well in clayish soil and I am ready now to add color and texture in an area with partial sun. Can you suggest hardy perennial flowers that are are long lasting, tall and showy as well as some very tall ferns? Also, can you suggest a tree that is green all year, no leaves, that would survive the soil?

ANSWER:

Before we begin, can we do a little term-defining? You referred to a tree that is "green all year, no leaves.." We trust you mean not a deciduous tree that drops its leaves in the Fall. Any tree is going to have to have some kind of leaves, to take the sun's energy and convert it into food for the plant to exist. Nobody likes to rake leaves, but they're great for compost piles, if you're into that.

We found a number of perennials native to New York that can grow in a clay soil, and four ferns. The tree situation was not quite so easy. As far north as you are, there are not many trees, including the conifers, that will stay green all year and still take the clay soil. We found a couple, and are going to suggest that you check out this Cornell University Department of Horticulture website on Trees and Shrubs. We weren't sure what county Staten Island is in, but it appeared that it is in Kings County, and we found this Cornell University Extension website on New York City. On one of those sites you should be able either to find a better list of trees suited to your situation, or a contact that can give you information. Click below on the plant name links and get the information on the webpage from our Native Plant Database. If you still need more information on the plant, go all the way to the bottom of the webpage and click on "Search Google for (plant name)".

PERENNIAL FLOWERING PLANTS

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Conoclinium coelestinum (blue mistflower)

Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed)

Desmodium canadense (showy ticktrefoil)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Lobelia siphilitica (great blue lobelia)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Penstemon digitalis (talus slope penstemon)

Phacelia distans (distant phacelia)

Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)

Rudbeckia laciniata (cutleaf coneflower)

FERNS

Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)

Osmunda regalis (royal fern) - Images

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)

Pteridium aquilinum (western brackenfern) - Images

TREES

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) - Images

Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock) - Images


Achillea millefolium

Conoclinium coelestinum

Coreopsis lanceolata

Desmodium canadense

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia siphilitica

Monarda fistulosa

Penstemon digitalis

Phlox divaricata

Physostegia virginiana

Podophyllum peltatum

Rudbeckia laciniata

Osmunda cinnamomea

Polystichum acrostichoides

 

 

 

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