Gardeners Exchange Group Meeting: 17 January 2015
Location: Home of Carole Brooks
Topic: “Native Plants through the Seasons,” by Virginia Winston of Winston Gardens and GEG member

At our annual January potluck dinner, Carole briefly described the “Shepherdstown Gardeners Exchange Group (GEG)” explaining that the formal definition can be found on the website, but she hopes that we all understand that the group exists to exchange and share plants that we all have in our gardens that might otherwise end up on the compost heap. She encouraged members to bring their unwanted, extra plants and seeds to the exchange meetings for other gardeners to use. The GEG is a forum to exchange ideas, receive information and garden related advice.

Two deer repellants and a deer tick poison were discussed:

  • The first product was mentioned at the September 2014 GEG meeting by Meg Spurlin who uses it in her garden. This system uses batteries and is a deer shocking/training deterrent. Find it at Wireless Deer Fence.
  • Deer-A-Tak by Natura was recommended as an effective deer repellant; it comes in a concentrated form, sticks well through rain, and is a plant-based organic product. It is available online but may be less expensive if purchased at Clear Ridge Nursery in Union Bridge MD. (Clear Ridge also has a lot of great native species in its catalog.)
  • Damminex Tick Tubes contain pyrethrin-soaked material which is used by mice in their nests. This chemical kills the deer ticks on the mice but not the mice. Deer ticks that live on the mice (and deer) are the vector for Borrelia Burgdorferi, the spirochete which causes Lyme disease.

Native Plants, by Virginia Winston

  • Spice bush, Lindera benzoin. An understory bush/small tree which has small yellow flowers in Spring and red berries in fall. Its bark and leaves have a nice fragrance like benzoin/camphor/incense. It can be propagated by the berries.
  • Celandine Wood Poppy, Stylophorum diphyllum. Grey green foliage, yellow flowing plant that prefers shade, makes many seedlings when seed pods explode, can be very prolific.
  • Wild Hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens. Prefers part shade near but not in water, intolerant of drought. Deciduous, leggy shrub that grows to 3-5 feet producing white hydrangea like flowers in May.
  • Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa. Herbaceous perennial grows in well drained soil in full sun, does not transplant well due to its deep tap root but can be grown from seeds. May take two to three years to get established and produce flowers—but it’s worth the wait because the fluorescent orange flowers that bloom in June really do attract many butterflies.
  • Bee Balm, Monarda. Grows in sun, well drained soil. Leaves have a spicy smell, flowers which bloom in summer, range in color from red, pink, light purple, and as the name suggests, attract bees.
  • St Johns Wort, Hypericum perforatum. A medicinal native shrub that grows about knee high and bears yellow flowers in July and August and has good fall color. It is claimed to possess antidepressant, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties (but it is also toxic to certain species of livestock, according to Wikipedia).
  • Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. These flowering plants are native to the US, there are many other varieties, sizes and shapes. The plants prefer sun and grow well in meadows with other grasses acting as support for the flower-laden aster plants in the fall. The flowers provide pollen and seeds for insects and wildlife.
  • Paw paw, Asmina triloba. This small tree (20 feet) is similar to the cherimoya, sour sop, sweet sop or custard apple—if that helps. Its delicious flavor has been described as a cross between a banana, mango, and a melon. It blooms deep red in the spring and prefers to grow near but not in streams or at the forest edge. Propagated from from seeds or cuttings as what appear to be young shoots are often root suckers with few roots. Can be found growing on the banks of the Potomac River.

Submitted by Julie Neely, GEG Secretary