Diversity key to good planning for shrubs or trees

Jolene Wallace is the horticulture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. Contact her at 561-7450 or jmw442@cornell.edu.

Finally! Winter is over and spring has arrived in the North Country.

I know we may still have occasional snow flurries, but we can thumb our noses (anyone know where that phrase comes from?) at them now because we know they won’t last. 

Those of us who have blisters on our fingertips from pouring over seed and plant catalogs for the last few months can rest easy that our shipments won’t perish on the porch. If we have already placed our orders or have decided what we will purchase locally, we are ahead of the game.

Those of us who wait to see what entices us at our local nurseries and garden centers have some hard decisions to make. Some of the shrubs that have been anchors in our gardens for years have been placed on prohibited or regulated lists and either won’t be available much longer or have restrictions on where they can be introduced.

This is a result of these non-native plants spreading to areas in which they are not welcome. It’s not necessary for the shrub itself to take over an area like some invasive plants do. Remember that birds who feed on berries play a part in "planting" in areas that they subsequently visit. 

The key to good planning when it comes to shrubs or trees is diversity. Too many of the same variety or species leaves us vulnerable to big losses in case of disease or pests capable of wiping out our plantings.

One way to safeguard our landscapes is to make good use of native ornamental grasses, plants, trees and shrubs. Not all our plantings need to be native of course, but if you are planning to invest the time and money on new plants this spring, I encourage you to seriously consider using natives. Besides being suited to our climate, they provide a habitat for our native birds, attract pollinators and frequently need less care than non-native choices.

From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 2, Pat Macomber, our local “go-to” native plant consultant, will be presenting a program at our office, 6064 State Route 22, Suite 5, in Plattsburgh. Pat will be offering advice and suggestions for choosing native plants to enhance our landscapes. We are excited that she is willing to share her knowledge and experience with us. This presentation is free of charge but preregistration is required as space is limited.

Join me, some of our Master Gardener volunteers and Macomber in "going native.” For more information or to register, call us at 561-7450 or email me at jmw442@cornell.edu.

Jolene Wallace is the horticulture educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Clinton County. Contact her at 561-7450 or jmw442@cornell.edu.

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