En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - April 24, 2006

From: Hudson, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Restoration of hilly area with natives of New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have an area, down the street from me, 2 side hills. During the summer, this all becomes over grown with small trees and just brush in general. I have asked our city for over 20 yrs to clear it as just behind it is our local city operated swimming hole called Oakdale. I have always thought if these side hills were cleared and wildflowers grew there, how nice it would be and look. I live in Hudson NY and need ideas as to what to grow there. Perhaps if the new political regime decides to heed my request and I have the proper flowers to plant, something can be done. We do have a small contingent of deer the frequent this area though. Any help you could give would be GREATLY appreciated.

ANSWER:

You don't say how large the area is and what sorts of trees and brush grow there now. Moreover, you don't say who would be in charge of caring for the area. I am assuming it would be the city—or you. Whoever it is, the simpler the maintenance, the better the area will look year round. You need to realize that wildflowers would be blooming only part of the spring and summer and that the rest of the year the area would have, at best, just green (or dead brown) plants, and at worst, lots of weeds. Also, since you are dealing with hills and some slope, clearing away all the trees and brush could open up the site for erosion. Therefore, it might be an advantage to leave or plant scattered small shrubs or trees. So—first, you might assess what is growing on the site to see if it is native and potentially attractive. For those that fit the "native and potentially attractive" description, you could mark and ask the city to save. A few potentially attractive shrubs and small trees native to New York are:

Red bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Alternate-leaf dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)
American strawberry-bush (Euonymus americana)
Red chokecherry (Photinia pyrifolia)

If there are flatter areas on the hill, perhaps that would be the best place to clear and sow wildflowers along with attractive native grasses. Grasses have several functions in a wildflower meadow; for instance, filling in spaces between the flowers, providing protection from erosion, and adding color and texture. I suggest you visit our Native Plant Library to find two articles, "Wildflower Meadow Gardening" and "Large Scale Wildflower Planting" that would be useful in your project. Here are some suggested grasses and wildflowers:

Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis), spring bloom
Little bluestem (Schizachrium scoparium) summer and fall bloom
Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) summer bloom

Spring wildflowers:
Red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Lance-leaved coreopsis ( Coreopsis lanceolata)
Narrow-leaf blue-eyed-grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)

Summer and fall wildflowers:
Butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa
Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
Cardinal flower ( Lobelia cardinalis)
Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera)
Smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve)

Your goal, I assume, would be to have the area attractive year round and not just during the seasons when the wildflowers are blooming. With this is mind, you might consider ferns in some areas:

Crested wood fern ( Dryopteris cristata)
Marginal wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis)

Since I don't know completely the character of your area, not all of the suggestions may be appropriate. You can look for more possibilities by doing a "Combination Search" in our Native Plants Database where you can narrow your search by making choices for: Bloom Characteristics, Growth Form, Growing Conditions, and Distribution. Finally, you can search for sources of native plants and seeds in your area by visiting our National Suppliers Directory.
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Is it illegal in Texas to pick bluebonnets? No.
December 01, 2008 - Is it illegal in Texas to pick a bluebonnet?
view the full question and answer

Will Bermuda grass crowd out natives
September 12, 2008 - i have a new office bldg on an acre lot in cedar park. the city requires complete ground cover within a few months so bermuda was sprayed much to my dismay..the area along the front towards the road ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Lupinus perennis in sandy soil.
February 15, 2009 - I want to grow Lupinus perennis for the Karner butterfly. I know it won't grow in clay (my soil is wet clay). Can I plant the plant in a big (20" diameter x 17" tall) rubber pot, and fill the pot w...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets to bloom in September in Harlingen, TX
April 30, 2008 - How can I get bluebonnets to bloom in the first week of September? I need them for my daughter's wedding! We live in Harlingen. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Native xeric grasses for Colorado
June 24, 2010 - Tired of mowing - replacing western exposure full sun lawn with native xeric grass. Please explain the pros and cons of Bouteloua Gracilis (Blue Grama) and Bouteloua Dactyloides Bella (Bella Blue Gra...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center