April 9, 2016
When you are new to native plants, it’s hard to know which plant to pick. You’ll often hear native plant folk say ‘Right Plant, Right Place.’ What do we mean by that?
We mean that each plant has unique needs, and if you match the plant’s needs to the site, your plant will live. If a plant needs dry shade, and you plant it in dry shade, it should thrive. Don’t try to plant it in moist sun, or it will fail.
Because of the many unique requirements of native plants, we have created detailed signage for the plants here in our nursery. A team of at least three of us checks over each sign.
First, we research the plant’s needs and characteristics. We use respected reference books, relying heavily on the series by William Cullina. We also consult “The Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr, and “Native Plants of the Northeast” by Donald Leopold. We’ll check the USDA database online to verify the plant’s native status. We often consult other online resources we know to be reliable. Then we add in what we have learned ourselves from over 20 years of experience working with native plants.
Next, we select icons to represent some key qualities of each plant. We have a library of icons we put on each sign, to give you information at a glance so there is not too much reading. We have icons for butterfly value, wildlife value, bird value, deer resistance and other qualities.
Then we decide which information is important enough to put on our 5×7 sign without overwhelming the shopper, while still providing critical info. Where we can, we put a QR code on the sign, that you can scan with any bar-code scanner from your smart phone. The code will take you to more plant information on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlflower website.
Third — and here comes the fun part — we coax and cajole our laser printer to print our creation on plastic card stock that will withstand the weather, hope we haven’t run out of toner (again!), and put the sign out with the crop.
So next time you visit, we hope you’ll give yourself time to select the right plant for the right place, and that the information on our signs is helpful. We have additional reference books inside if you need even more information.