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There are plants we know never to use in the garden again. Some were introduced by well-meaning plant explorers and nurserymen and others were introduced by the government. Honeysuckle was praised as an excellent way to sustain hillsides along newly constructed roads. Now we know the negative impact these shrubs have on the environment.

As we become more attuned with the impact our plant selections may have on nature, even if we are tending a small city landscape, the use of invasive plants continues to decline. But what about the aggressive, non-invasive plants? Are native plants no-worry choices for the garden?

In my garden I have Senna hebecarpa, a native plant. This is a vigorous plant which I have seen monopolize an area. If you have a large area in which to garden, this may not be an issue. However, if you have a more modest, city landscape and assume this native plant will be a great addition, you will find yourself in a battle for control of the garden.

A shady woodland garden would become a constant struggle if the naive, ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) was introduced. It’s a vigorous fern. Native, beautiful, quite regal, but it’s a bully.

The answer, as it often is with gardening, is finding the correct plant for the site. And I would add to the equation: take into consideration how much time you want to spend on garden maintenance.

This is when professional gardeners are invaluable. We know when a plant is simply too much for a garden space: be it a native or cultivated variety. We also know when to give the go ahead to a vigorous plant and when to make an alternative suggestion. Bugleweed is a great groundcover when it’s expansion is hindered by obstacle. If your gardens abuts a natural area we will guide you towards a native alternative, that should it escape the garden would do no harm, such as Asarum.

“I believe the most important part of our job as garden professionals is education. If a client is drawn to bold, somewhat aggressive plants, we take the time to explain the maintenance required for that garden” shares Jennifer Smith. “However, if we move forward with a design laden with bully plants and don’t stress the importance of maintenance, the garden will become unkempt and the client extremely dissatisfied with us and their garden.”

Designing landscapes and gardens with the perfect plants is what we do best. Let us guide you in creating a garden that’s a perfect fit for you. Call 271.2332.

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