Native shrubs in our habitat garden

Pussy willow ©Janet AllenPussy willow (Salix discolor) in bloom

Formerly, as an ornamental gardener, I thought of gardening as flower gardening. Like most people, we had a few shrubs in the landscape just to add some visual interest. But my main gardening passion was perennial and annual flowers.

When we discovered habitat gardening and the importance of native plants, we started substituting native flowers for our previous choices (which had been the usual daylilies, petunias, marigolds, and many, many other pretty, but non-native, flowers).

At first, we were guided by many of the books and resources coming out of the midwest, since the midwest is so much farther ahead of us in terms of natural landscaping. As a result, I planted many plants native to the midwest (though their range often extends into New York).

It wasn't until I read Douglas Tallamy's book Bringing Nature Home that I truly understood that Central New York is not the midwest.

Here in the Northeast, we should focus more on shrubs and trees since my yard, if our area hadn't been developed a few hundred years ago, would have been a woodland. And truth be told, it wasn't until over a year after reading Tallamy that it really sunk in.

Fortunately, we had been planting some native shrubs anyway, but now I have a more intentional interest in shrubs and trees, though I'll never stop wanting lots of flowers, too!

Here is a list of the native shrubs we grow.