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Chesapeake Gardens: Get a Sparkling Start to Spring

Getting started with native plants, news from nurseries, plant sales and more!

native fothergilla flower close up
fothergilla flower

Sparkling in the natural sense that is. Dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) spring flowers just glimmer and shimmer! Dwarf fothergilla can be planted singly, in a group of three or even as a hedge. It does two things for your garden design: it lights up in spring and adds dramatic color in fall.

New to Native Plant Gardening or Upping Your Native Plant Garden Game?

There are so many ways to approach it. Even if you don't consider yourself a DIY gardener, planting a container with a few native plants or a shrub in a place you will see as you come and go is a great way to add a spring to your step!

Thinking of a spring container? How about foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), Christmas fern (Polystichum achrostichoides) and phlox divaricata (Phlox divaricata)? These perennial plants are all typically available at garden centers and native plant nurseries in spring. Phlox divaricata, Christmas fern and foamflower are also available by mail from Plant More Natives.

Thinking of just one easy to plant shrub? The best shrub for your efforts is one that gives you three seasons of interest. These all have white flowers in spring, berries in summer and fabulous fall foliage. Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) grows well in sun or part sun and average to moist soils. Possumhaw viburnum (Viburnum nudum) grows well in sun or shade and does best in moist soils though will grow just fine in average soil in part shade. Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is a larger shrub will grow in full sun to part shade and can adapt to various soils.

native plant garden walkway side garden
native plant garden path

A bit more serious about getting started? Here are ten ways to get underway. If you are heading out to a nursery, you may want to check out these native plant shopping tips.

New at Native Plant Nurseries

Adkins Arboretum

The Adkins Arboretum Spring Plant Sale is on! The plant sale is open and orders are being taken through March 30th. Don't live on the Eastern Shore? A day spent at Adkins is one of Maryland's great treasures! You can walk the trails, view the meadow from a raised perch or take it all in from an Adirondack chair on a bridge over a wetland filled with croaking frogs and pick up your new native plants all at the same time. And, if you have canine friends, they are welcome too, on a lead, of course!

Bona Terra Nursery

Bona Terra Nursery has a very generous 'Plant Grant' open to not-for-profit groups, garden clubs, schools and any group of people with a goal to plant native plants. Applicants must be located within 100 miles of Washington D.C. Experience with seedling division and plant maintenance is not necessary but will increase the likelihood of being granted all requested plants. Their goal -- to give out 1,000,000 native plant seedlings! You can apply here. Bona Terra grows local eco-type plants.

Direct Native Plants

Direct Natives, an on-line mail order nursery, is offering a 10% discount on plant orders placed before April 2nd with the code SPRING10. Orders begin to ship April 3rd, weather permitting.

Herring Run Nursery

Herring Run Nursery has a new on-line store making it easier to shop for native plants to fit your specific garden conditions. Opening day for Herring Run Nursery is March 16th!

Earth Sangha

Non-profit Earth Sangha reopens for Sunday shopping on March 12th. You need an appointment which you can make here. Otherwise, you can place an on-line order for pick-up. This is one of two non-profit nurseries offering local ecotype plants in the Washington D.C. area.

Insects of Spring Anyone?

Mt. Cuba is offering an on-line look into what gardeners can do to nurture insect life in your garden during spring. Insects of Spring will be held on March 29th at 6pm and costs $19. Mt. Cuba in Hockessin, Delaware is the best place to go to see all of our native plants in action. Whether you are thinking of a formal garden, a meadow, a woodland path or containers, you will be inspired by the incredible array of native plants at Mt. Cuba. The gates reopen to visitors on April 1st.

Whether it comes from a container, a free seedling, a new plant or a bloom on an old favorite, I hope your spring garden sparkles.


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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