Got Host Plants? Get Butterflies!

By: Stacey Wildberger

Every year as I add more native plants I am hoping to increase the diversity in the types of insects, pollinators, and in particular butterflies I see in my backyard. As we know by now if you want butterflies you need caterpillars and if you want caterpillars you must have the proper habitat and host plant to attract the adult (butterflies) to lay eggs. Most caterpillars can only eat 1 or 2 types of plants to survive. The most common example of the host plant-caterpillar-butterfly relationship is of course the Monarch but there are many other types of these specialized relationships. This year I was able to attract several new-to-my-yard species of butterflies. I am convinced it was because I have laid the groundwork necessary to provide the proper habitat for them. There are five species that I saw this year and I will tell you what I did to attract them.

The first new-to-me species of butterfly I saw in my yard this past summer was the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, a black-white zebra like striped butterfly with long, almost triangular wings. These butterflies grow between 2-4’ and prefer moist wooded areas where the Asimina triloba paw-paws grow because the paw-paw is the only host plant of the Zebra Swallowtail, they lay a single egg on the underside of a paw-paw leaf. The adults nectar on a variety of native plants but prefer shorter, flatter flowers due to their short proboscis. Cercis Canadensis Eastern Redbud flowers, Asclepias sp. milkweed, phlox and Eutrochium sp. Joe-Pye weed are great examples of preferred nectar sources for these beauties. You will notice them flying low to the ground, in an erratic way or groups of males gathered on moist sandy soil to obtain salt and other nutrients. Guess what I have growing in my yard? If you guessed Asimina triloba paw-paws (their host plant), redbud, milkweed, phlox and Joe-Pye weed you will know why I saw this amazing creature in my yard!

Zebra Swallowtail

This next one might have scratching your head –the caterpillar looks like a cartoon character, if you are familiar with Pokémon you may confuse him for one of them! They resemble small snakes because they have large eye spots, giving them the appearance they have a “face”. The Spicebush Swallowtail lays their eggs on the Lindera benzoin spicebush and Sassafras. I have planted several Spicebush (a small understory tree) over the last few years and sassafras has volunteered in my yard and many Cape yards. This past summer was the first time I was honored with a Spicebush swallowtail laying her eggs on my plant. Once they hatch they spend their days wrapped in the leaf- look for a curled up leaf and inside will be the caterpillar, they come out at night to munch on the leaves. The butterfly is beautiful black bodied creature with shiny blue or green wings. They generally stay low to the ground and prefer woodland areas. Their choice of nectar plants include milkweed- and I have lots of that to keep them well fed!

Spicebush caterpilar in rolled leaf

When I read that backyard wildlife habitat expert, blogger and author Nancy Lawson had the Question Mark butterfly in her yard because she grew their host plant, false nettles, I headed down to my favorite native plant nursery, Chesapeake Natives and bought a flat (15) Boehmeria cylindrica false nettle and promptly planted them—within a month I saw my first of two Question Mark butterflies for the season. They also will use Celtis occidentalis hackberry, Humulus lupulus hops and red elms as a host. They have a remarkable shape, a hooked forewing, they are a red-orange with black spots, short mostly black hindwing and light brown underside. There is a distinct “question mark” on the ventral side. They will nectar on a wide range of native plants so offer a variety and they will be happy!

Question Mark

Another beauty that graced my modest ecosystem was the wide-spread Red Admiral (it can be found in all three North American countries (no walls impede their journey). Their size and distinct color patterns make them easy to identify; a bright red band splashes the upper side of a black forewing with white spots near the wing tips makes these a real standout! This is another butterfly that uses nettles and false nettles as their host plant as well as asters. They like to drink sap from the trees, rotting fruit and bird droppings! They will also nectar on native milkweed, clover, and asters. Look for black caterpillars with white-light yellow speckles with black, branched spikes near the rear as well as seven yellow bands to identify if you have the larval form of the Red Admiral butterfly. I grow several varieties of milkweed, and asters as well as the false nettle (host plant) that I added that allowed me to attract this popular butterfly.

Red Admiral

The final new-to-me butterfly was the Red-Banded Hairstreak. This tiny butterfly could easily be missed nectaring amongst your Pycnanthemum sp. mountain mint, Solidago goldenrods, Rudbeckia hirta black eyed-susans, and goldenrod. Where I discovered my beautifully banded with a red sash across the wings was on my Rudbekia laciniata cut leaf coneflower. For these beauties even more important than the nectar plants is the habitat you provide so they can lay their eggs successfully. Their host plant is actually what many people rake up and cart to the landfills—leaf litter! Litter has such a negative connotation, I actually prefer the term leaf mulch. I am always reminding you to leave the leaves and this is a perfect example of a species that is using and benefiting from the leaves you keep on your property. Their preferred fallen leave to use are that of the Rhus sp. Sumac (not poisonous). They will always use Morella cerifera wax myrtle and Quercus sp. Oak. It is important to note that they will overwinter sheltered in the leaf litter as a 4th instar caterpillar, emerging in the spring as the diminutive butterfly they were destined to become. No leaf litter from your sumacs, oaks and wax myrtles and you will not be graced by these butterfly. Leave the leaves!!

Red-banded Hairstreak

Once I began to increase the diversity of native plants in my yard and began paying attention to the host plants required for a specific butterfly or habitat requirements I began to see the variety of species increase significantly in my backyard. Species I had never seen before were beginning to make my garden their home! I recommend looking for the butterflies you wish to attract and adding their host plants and favorite nectar sources to your garden and wait for them to arrive.
Please email me at if you want help to finding the host plants you need to attract the butterflies you want!

Big Shout and Thank You! Christmas Tree Pick-Up

Many of you participated in helping Beverly Triton Beach with their shoreline erosion project by donating your Christmas Trees to them.  I want to thank each of you for participating and a BIG thank you to Matthew Toronto, owner of hauling business Matthew Hauling for volunteering his time to pick up and transport over 60 trees to Beverly Triton Beach with the help of several volunteers.  Please show your apperception for his time and effort by calling Matt for your hauling needs!  He can be reached @ 443.838.4352.  Matt lives right here in Cape St Claire so you would be supporting a local business that graciously donated his time and resources.  We would love to repeat this again but could use many more volunteers with pickup trucks and trailers.  Stay tuned for more on this next Christmas season!

Practical Ways to Reduce Storm Water Runoff

By: Stacey Wildberger

As residents of Cape St Claire we are privileged to live in a community with water access to our beautiful Magothy River and easy access to the Chesapeake Bay.  I also feel fortunate that so many of our residents are conscious stewards of their land and the community open spaces.  By being a good steward we are contributing to the health of our waterways.  The volunteers of Cape Conservation Corps’ mission is to “ignite community pride in our native landscape through projects that promote stewardship, create healthy natural spaces and champion swimmable, fishable waterways”.  We do this through a variety of restoration projects by removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants, as well as projects to eliminate destructive storm water runoff and erosion from our properties.  I talk about the importance of using natives, replacing invasive or exotic plants and leaving your yard “messy” to create habitat.  There are many other ways we can help keep our waterways clean and safe for wildlife and our recreational pleasure. Let’s take a look at several things we can do in our yards and community to promote the health of our waterways

The fall leaves are beautiful to the eye and an important part of creating habitat and adding nutrients to your lawn and garden but they can cause issues in our waterways.  They can become a pollutant by causing an increase in nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment levels in the Magothy and the Bay, promoting algae growth and leading to dead zones killing aquatic life.  CCC recently partnered with Town Manager, Ryan Anderson on his Capstone Project to become a Watershed Steward.  His mission was to clear leaf litter from several of the main roads of Cape St Claire.  The project covered 1.6 miles of streets in CSC, in which volunteers removed leaves and debris from roadside curbs, storm water drains and storm water conveyance systems.  Ryan’s hope is that it will inspire all residents to clean out the drains and storm water areas in front of their own homes to have a larger impact.  Another important reminder about those storm water drains is that they do not lead to a waste water treatment plant but run directly to our water ways so please do not dump anything into the storm drains.  Motor oil, batteries, paint, herbicides, insecticides, swimming pool chemicals and other household hazardous materials should be taken to the landfill for proper disposal.

Pet waste is also a contributor to storm water pollution. Picking up after your pets also leads to cleaner waterways: rainwater washes feces into the local waterway leading to an unbalanced nutrient load, and also parasites and bacteria, leading to unhealthy water. Cleaning up after our pets is as simple as bringing a baggie on walks or patrolling the yard every couple of days—especially if you know a rain storm is nearby. 

You can also help reduce storm water runoff from your property by disconnecting your downspouts and redirecting them.  Most of our downspouts (mine included) drain into the ground or across paved surfaces.  By disconnecting and redirecting to them to the lawn, a garden or a rain barrel you can reduce the volume of runoff and decrease erosion as well as keep pollutants that may have collected on those paved surfaces from being carried into the drains and ultimately to the water. For directions on how to disconnect and redirect your down spouts visit

Speaking of rain barrels they can be another great way to divert storm water and retain it on your property.  A rain barrel captures the rain during a storm and stores it to be reused or released during dry periods.  You can redirect to water gardens to water your plants, particularly during times of drought like we experienced at the end of this summer.  Unfortunately, it seems that when it rains, it pours, and that our rain barrels fill up and keep overflowing.  One of our members came up with the idea to pump the rain barrels dry when a new rain is in the forecast.  Using a submersible electric pump (1-1.5 hp), the water in the rain barrel can be spread over a large part of the yard, allowing it to seep into the ground without causing run-off.  (It can also be used to water the yard during a dry spell.)  Yes, it is more work… but it accomplishes the same thing as having the overflow directed to a rain garden when one will not fit in your yard. Find tips on installing and maintaining your rain barrel here:

Our in home vehicle care can also have an impact on polluting the local waterways.  Remember to use drip pans to prevent spills from used fluids.  Clean up any spills with a rag and dispose them properly, recycle batteries, and do not clean car parts in a household sink.  Those chemicals go directly to our drinking water by way of a wastewater treatment facility. Keeping your tires properly inflated saves gas and reduces emissions!

With winter coming and hopefully a good snowfall or two we will be out there shoveling snow and many of us use salt and sand to help us with clean up and traction.  Just remember to use them in moderation because the salt and sand make their way down into storm drains.  Excess sand can clog the storm water drains and salt can kill plants, ruin the soil and is toxic to our aquatic creatures.  Old fashioned shoveling is best but if you use chemicals, use them smartly and safely. 

The most interesting form of reducing storm water runoff is a Green Roof.  A Green Roof is a system of plants, typically succulents, on your roof designed to collect and absorb rain water before it hits the ground. There are several benefits that a green roof can offer.  It cuts heating and cooling cost by reducing heat and cooling loss and energy use, reduces storm water runoff, filters out heavy metals and creates habitat.  It is typically used in commercial buildings. I have not seen any green roofs in Cape St Claire (except for a few houses in desperate need of a new roof) but I would love to hear from anyone that has done one.  Maybe on a shed or garage?  Even a bird house?

Of course my favorite way to reduce runoff and help promote clean water is with plants.  Since I usually talk about the benefits in using native plants in your landscapes and to restore natural areas I will leave with you with a few quick reminders: conservation landscaping, planting trees, adding a native meadow, and installing a rain garden are all important components of clean water ways! For more ideas on reducing storm water runoff please visit Alliance for the Bay’s website at

Serene Ravine Spreading wood chips on the path November 2019
Harvest Bash 2019

Keeping the Fall Chores Away

By: Stacey Wildberger

I am once again appealing to your lazy side when it comes to fall gardening chores.  I am asking you to consider leaving the leaves, resisting the urge to cut back the stalks and let Mother Nature be her own housekeeper.  If we are to garden for wildlife and adopt an attitude of “re-think” pretty your fall to-so list can list can be greatly reduce, leaving time for football, bonfires and apple picking.  The bees, butterflies, birds and even small mammals will greatly benefit as well from your lazy gardening style. 

Let’s talk about the leaf litter, I know Cape has a great many trees in most parts so you may not be able to leave them all but consider using the leaves in your yard as natural mulch and fertilizer as well as habitat and food for wildlife.  By letting the leaves accumulate where they fall or even moving them to garden beds you are letting Mother Nature fertilize your yard for you.  The leaves will break down naturally over time adding rich organic matter to the soil.  You can speed up the process by mulching the leaves; although it is preferable to wait until spring to mulch the leaves as many of our butterflies, moths, bees and other insects will use the leaf litter to overwinter, emerging in the spring.  These are beneficial bugs and pollinators that are greatly needed in the ecosystem.  In addition to adding to the fertility of the soil you are also increasing the soils ability to penetrate and retain water. Another benefit to those leaves are a source of food during lean times. There are many birds and even small animals that forage on those hibernating insects and keep them fed throughout the long winter. One of my favorite insect-foraging birds is the flicker.  He will root through your leaves looking for tasty treats!  Instead of wasting energy raking and bagging leaves this fall consider leaving at least some of them and using them as natural fertilizer, topsoil, habitat and a food source for the local fauna.


Another chore you can skip is cutting down the stalks of your dead perennials.  There is still a lot of life left in them!  Once again, they are a valuable food source for our migrating and over wintering birds.  The sight of a goldfinch clinging to an Echinacea seed can be a bright spot on a dreary winter’s day. Those high fat content seeds can fuel our feathered friends through the old winter, keeping them energized and warm.  Those fluffy seed heads can make excellent nesting material in the spring mating season.  There are also many insects that will overwinter in the stems of the flowers as well. In particular hollow or pith filled stems make the perfect winter home for these beneficial bugs.  I find Joe Pye Weed, Baptisia (False indigo), Helenium sp. (Sneezeweed), Echinacea (Coneflower) are ideal stems for overwintering.  Once spring comes you can cut the stems, leaving 12-18” standing to accommodate the late risers and even as fresh nesting sites.   As the plants sprout new growth you won’t even notice those hollowed stems left behind. Some examples of insects that will use your garden litter are queen bumblebees, swallowtail caterpillars, frogs, spiders, and beetles.

Many of you may have seen the troubling report that came out recently on the decline of birds, nearly 3 billion since 1970.  Many of those are the backyard birds we enjoy viewing at our backyard feeders and natural areas in the community.  There are many reasons for the decline, including habitat loss, pesticide use, insect declines, climate change as well as direct threats such as window strikes and cats.  We can help our backyard friends by beginning to think differently in who we are gardening for.  By leaving our yards a little bit “messy’ and skipping a few autumn chores we can provide much needed habitat and food source.  The food web is occurring right in your backyard.  If you provide the habitat required for insects to overnight in, they become the food birds require to rear their young on (96% of terrestrial birds feed their young insects). By leaving the seed heads, grasses and other debris you are providing the nesting material they need as well. During this time of mass extinction we have a responsibility to those without a voice to provide for them in our own landscapes.  It may seem to be a drop in the bucket but by recognizing our place and obligation we will begin to make broader changes that can make a difference.  Start in your garden, encourage others to re-think pretty and begin to see changes. Our landscapes can be both beneficial to other species and beautiful to the human eye.  One of my favorite winter views is looking out over the garden with its standing stems and leafy ground, seeing the snow cling to the upright forms. I much prefer that to stripped down, mowed, and raked bare landscape.  Void of any life.


There are some things you can so this fall and winter if you cannot sit idle.  Plan a new native garden for next year.  You can prep the area now putting down a layer of cardboard or newspaper and piling compost, and those extra leaves.  By next spring your new plot will be ready to plant.  As I always do, I encourage you to plant native plants as they have co-evolved with the local fauna and are best prepared to nourish our local ecosystem. Fall is also a great time to plant as well, which is why we have our plant sale in the fall……

Which brings me to my final point, a great BIG THANK YOU for all the support the community gave to our Native Fall Fest and Plant Sale.  We were overwhelmed by the support that you showed.  You came early, you bought it all and I hope you learned something too from many of the experts we had on hand.  Chris Pax, a local landscape designer (by local I mean a Cape resident) was on hand to guide people in selecting the right plants for their landscape, advice of what plants work well in what conditions.  In addition to her landscape design business Chris is making a series of videos that you can watch at home on a variety of plants and gardening topics.  Her first one, all about Ferns is available on her website  I highly recommend it!  You can also check out the landscape design services she offers.  Nancy Lawson, author and blogger who is “cultivating compassion for all creatures great and small” was there to share how plants and animals interact and what to plant to attract pollinators and butterflies, provide habitat, and what host plants certain butterflies need to lay their eggs.  Check out her website for great articles and her book “The Humane Gardner: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife”  Other great partners were the AA Co Watershed Stewards with a great demo on slowing down runoff using native plants, the Master Gardeners were there to share their Baywise program with us and tell you how you can become Baywise Certified.  Thanks also to Adkins Arboretum for sharing their expertise and the great work they are doing at their Ridgley, MD location. The Fest/Sale was sold out by the end with many plants sold out in the first hour.  Hope you got everything you were looking for but if not we will be back next fall with more great native plants at super low prices! Thanks again for coming out and adding native plants to your landscapes.

The Serene Ravine of Lake Claire

By: Stacey Wildberger w/ Al Todd

There is a little known, sometimes forgotten Ravine that feeds into Lake Claire, across from the property address 1037 Lake Claire.  According to resident Al Todd, most of the flow into the ravine is intermittent (i.e. flows mostly in response to rainfall and storm water runoff with some minimal base flow)  The watershed reached up to St Margaret’s Road and Hampton Road, Glenwood Dale Drive to Summit Drive.  When the sewer lines were first installed in the Cape, a main line was run down through this area and for a long time there was an access road to the pump house that ran from Lake Claire Drive down.  The rusted poles and part of the old cable gate are still there.  Soon after the sewer line, a storm drain inlet was installed at 1037 Lake Claire and the original stream channel that ran through this lot was placed in a concrete culvert to prevent flooding of the road. Gabion check dams were installed about the same time to prevent too much erosion from the storm water system.   It is likely that the entire area was disturbed during this decade of sewer installation and storm water work. A group of residents formed Friends of Lake Claire and began working on cleaning up the many invasive plants and hauled tons of debris out of the ravine, pointing to the fact that it was likely a dumping ground and storage site for construction supplies. In 2013, with funds from a grant, they hired Eco-Goats as an environmentally and efficient way to remove the invasive plants that covered area.  You can still see the vines hanging down to just above the tallest goats reach.  Later, Friends of Lake Claire became Cape Conservation Corps in 2015 as we broadened our focus to other natural areas of Cape St Claire. 

Interestingly, there is still a small intermittent wetland on the lower west side of the ravine that is likely fed by groundwater.  It remains wet for several days to a week after rainy spells.    Bald cypress and willow were planted down there; keeping the lower part of the trail very wet as it overflows during these periods.  Long-time Broadneck Peninsula Mac Rideout resident shared the following story with Al many years ago, before his passing.  “His family owned much land in the area (including Whitehall manor and other properties).  He was a real history buff and wrote a history of the area some years ago.  One of the stories he told me one time he was at my house was that when he was a boy (and there was no Cape St Claire, no Highway 50, no Bay Bridge, etc.  They used to ride their horses all over this area because they were part of the Pony Club (red building at entrance to CSC) and used to race on the track that used to be at Revell Downs and the straight race track that turned into Hampton Road.  He said they used to ride horses down to the beach near Lake Claire and they always stopped at a spring that was in the ravine just behind my house.   That spring is gone of course, probably largely from the reduction of recharge from development.”   

Over the past year Cape Conservation has stepped up our efforts to further clear invasive plants from the Ravine to make way for beneficial native plants.  Some of the plants have been planted by us but many have sprung up on their own after being given a chance to thrive once the invasives were under control.  Last spring we experimented with fighting plants with plants.  We ordered 200 plugs of Packera Aurea golden ragwort and planted them in groups of 10-12 in various 5’ circles areas that invasive garlic mustard was known to grow.  The idea is that the golden ragwort will spread and suppress the garlic mustard. Throughout the spring and summer we have met almost weekly to hand pull the garlic mustard before it produced seed to help stop the spread of even more.  We have watched those small plants thrive, and spread in just this first season.  As we are weeding we have been planning where to plant another 150 plugs at the end of September for even more coverage.


As I mentioned, the more we have removed the invasive plants from the area the more you can see other plants, particularly native plants volunteering in the space.  I was very excited to see the following native plants come up in the Ravine as they offer valuable resources to our local fauna.  Please do not judge these plants by their names (almost all end in WEED).  A weed is simply a plant growing in a place you do not want it.  While some of these natives tend to be a bit aggressive they all serve an important part of our ecosystem.  The banks of the ravine are covered right now in Impatiens capensis jewelweed, a 3-5’ late spring to early fall orange blooming herbaceous plant.  One of the best features of this “jewel” is it attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and  bees  It is commonly found growing in ditches and along creeks so the Serene Ravine is the perfect location for it to thrive. 


One of my favorite pollinator attracting plants that has sprung up in the Serene Ravine is Eupatorium serotinum late-flowering thoroughwort or boneset.  A member of the aster family, it is fall blooming so it offers an important late season nectar source for pollinators and migrating butterflies.  The tiny white flowers can be seen covered in the largest variety of bees, flies, and other small insects I have ever seen.

Common Milkweed

As we know, Asclepias sp. milkweed is the only host plant that Monarch butterflies can lay their eggs on.  The Serene Ravine has become a nursery for the baby monarch caterpillars as Asclepias syriaca common milkweed has volunteered there.  While I was there last week I found many caterpillars munching happily away on this plant that many consider a “weed”.  These caterpillars will become the next generation of Monarchs that will soon begin their fall migration.  Luckily, in addition to their host plant we also have several nectar sources at the ravine for them to fuel up on for their long journey.


This next native “weed” I have a love/hate relationship with, Phytolacca Americana, pokeweed.  I love it because the dark purple berries provide a wonderful source of food for migrating and over wintering birds, the hummingbirds enjoy the nectar of the white flower and it is a host plant for giant leopard moth.  The berries even nourish our neighborhood foxes, opossums and raccoons. The hate because it can become so aggressive and quickly take over an area.  In my own yard I let it be in some of the wilder areas but try to control (remove) it from the garden areas.  In the right setting this “weed” can be a valuable addition to the ecosystem. 

What I learned over the last several months of weeding at the Serene Ravine was to not judge the plants that are growing there too quickly.  I have spent time getting to know what is there, identifying them and finding out what benefits or hazards they offer.  I took time to look for caterpillars on the milkweed, watched the swallowtail butterflies sip nectar from a highly invasive vine we are trying to eradicate, I studied the delicate boneset supporting so many varieties of pollinators and I noticed the ripening berries of the pokeweed that will soon nourish a variety of birds, including cedar waxwings, mourning doves, eastern kingbird, great catbird, summer tanager and hooded warblers. I encourage you to stop by the Serene Ravine and walk the path, stop on the benches and observe the life that is being supported in this little slice of natural area.  We need Wednesday Weed Warriors to control the invasive that continue to pop up and nurture the natives that spring up to support the local fauna.  If you are interested in helping with the continued restoration efforts please let me know at 

Our Native Plant Sale & Fest: Fall is the Time to Plant

By Stacey Wildberger

As usual the summer passes by quickly and we are preparing to welcome fall this month.  The good news is that fall is the best time of the year to plant!   We are having our 3rd annual Native Plant Fest and Sale on September 21st (9 AM to noon in the field behind the Cape St Claire clubhouse), so there will be a great selection of native plants suited for your Cape landscape right in your own backyard!  Why is fall the best the time of the year to plant?  The benefits to planting this time of year are numerous.  The cooler weather means less stress on the plants, less watering for you to do and they get a head start on getting established for next year.  There is also less insect and disease pressure and fall-planted blooming plants provide support for pollinators.  Of course the cooler temperatures also mean a more pleasant planting experience for the gardener!  We are going to have plugs, quarts and gallons in a variety of plants from A-Z (aster to zizia!) Let’s explore the plants we will have (subject to availability) at the sale.  You can see a complete list with hyperlinks to full descriptions on our website

Let’s talk about plugs first.  This year we have ordered plugs from North Creek Nurseries for a variety of our plants.  They will be available by the flat and ½ flat.  A plug is a plant grown in cells of a planting tray and are a great way to get your garden started quickly. The LP50 (50 plugs per flat) are 5” deep by 2” square and the LP32 (32 plugs per flat) are 4” deep by 2.22” square.  Plugs will typically reach flowering maturity in their first year of planting.  They are quicker and more reliable than seeds, getting established in weeks rather than months.  They are an inexpensive alternative to larger sizes.  So, if you want to buy a large number of plants as groundcover or for large areas, you get more bang for your buck.  We will have Carex, ferns, and several ground covers available as plugs.  We will offer 3 ferns, Marginal Wood fern and Christmas fern for drier, shady areas and the beautiful Cinnamon fern that prefers a moister site.  Carex and grasses offer a beautiful structural element to your landscape and we will several varieties for all types of conditions.  One of my favorite Carexes is the soft flowing Carex pensylvanica; it thrives in part to full shade, dry to medium moisture. This low growing sedge with its soft, delicate arching leaves will make an excellent ground cover.  Another highly adaptable sedge is creek sedge.  It can tolerate full sun to full shade, moist to dry coil conditions as it works as a slope stabilizer or as an edging to a garden path.  Every garden needs the work horse ornamental native grass Little blue-stem.  This upright grass will not only add structure to your garden in the summer months but the fall and winter beauty of this grass cannot be beat.  It will thrive in poor conditions, full sun with dry to medium suits it best! Just 2-4” in height it will be a perfect addition to your landscape. If you are looking for a taller grass that will not flop as some tall grasses do, then the switchgrass “North Wind” is the plant for you.  This 4-6’ tall ornamental native grass will do well in full sun to part shade, its beautiful seed head will provide for migrating birds.  We will also have 5-6 groundcovers as a plug.  My favorites are Plantain Pussytoes, the host plant of the American Lady butterfly will make a beautiful groundcover in sun to part shade, dry soil.  The white (male) or tinged pink (female) bloom is so delicate and resembles a cat’s paw.  Another favorite I have talked about before, and that CCC planted in the Serene Ravine to combat invasive garlic mustard, is Golden Ragwort.  It grows and spreads easily to naturalize areas of your yard in a range of conditions, but will thrive in part shade with medium to wet soil.  Although it gets a delicate yellow flower on a 2’ stalk in early spring the best part of this plant is basal foliage that will stay green all year!  

The sale will also feature many herbaceous perennials that will offer many years of flowering beauty.  It is important to have something blooming during all seasons to support our pollinators.  We will offer a wide variety of spring, summer and fall bloomers.  Everyone loves to plant for Monarchs and we will offer 2 popular milkweeds, the host plant for the Monarch, Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Weed. However, in the fall, the Monarchs need fall blooming plants to prepare for the long migration ahead.  Our selection of fall bloomers include several varieties of asters, and goldenrod for all conditions.  The White Wood Aster will work in the shadier areas of the yard, while Smooth Aster, New England Aster and Aromatic Aster will give you beautiful purple color in the sun.  Asters will attract a large variety of butterflies.  If you pair them with the yellow goldenrod you will have a stunning fall combination.  Our selections include Blue Stem Goldenrod that will tolerate poor, dry shady areas as well as full sun, Sweet Goldenrod will tolerate the same conditions but will thrive in full sun as will the arching stems of wrinkle-leaf “fireworks”, a pollinator magnet. Another great pollinator plant that I cannot say enough about is Mountain Mint.  Although it can behave as mints do, aggressive spreader, the benefits this plant can add to your garden cannot be topped.  I have seen a greater variety of pollinators on this plant than on any other plant I have.  The Swallowtails were so abundant this year and the top plant they were drawn to in my yard was Joe-Pye Weed.  We will have smaller cultivar (‘little joe”) that will attract those large butterflies to your yard.  My sleeper pick that many people aren’t familiar with is Blue Mistflower. This delicate plant offers a showy blue bloom from July to October and performs in a large variety of conditions, spreads by seed and rhizomes but it is easy to pull and share with friends.  It will weave its way through the taller perennials as it attracts butterflies.  We will have many more beautiful natives plants to enhance your landscape and add value to our ecosystem.

In addition to the sale of plants many experts will be on hand to help you select the best plants for your conditions.  Chris Pax, a Cape resident and landscape designer will be there to give you a tour of the plants and guide you in selecting the best combinations and ones suited for your growing conditions.  Visit her website to see the services and classes she offers The landscape designer, author of The Humane Gardener and blogger Nancy Lawson will explain the relationships between the native flora and fauna.  She too can guide you in your selections.  Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, Watershed Stewards, and Adkins Arboretum will all be ready to answer your gardening questions.  Find out how your yard can become Baywise Certified from the Watershed Stewards Baywise folks!  We look forward to seeing you September 21 and helping with all your fall garden needs!

And remember, we are pricing all plants at cost (plus shipping and sales tax, all included) to encourage everyone to add native plants to their yards.  You will not find lower prices anywhere !

Scroll to top