Plants with a Sense of Place—Regional, Edible, Sustainable

East Campus pillars at enterance

April 30, 2015

Lincoln, Neb. —Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is hosting a series of spring plant sales May into June with plants for this region, and many of them from regional seed source as well.

Regionally native plants are some of the best to tolerate landscape challenges like poor soil, diseases, pests and variable moisture, said Horticulture Program Coordinator Bob Henrickson. “That means gardeners are also planting for pollinators, which can increase garden production in their own yards while benefitting the larger environment.”

One plant Henrickson highly recommends is Helen’s flower. “It has abundant yellow daisy-like blossoms in fall, is very easy to grow, can handle heat and drought and it’s one of the best plants for pollinators.”

There will be many edible landscape plants for gardeners wanting to grow more of their own food and some under-planted beauties for a more interesting and sustainable landscape. Nut trees include hickory, walnut, pecan and hazelnut. Persimmon and pawpaw trees will be available and fruits like raspberry, currant, serviceberry and grape.

Wildflower-lovers will find lots of prairie plants: aster, coneflower, goldenrod, gayfeather and penstemon. Woodland plants for shady areas include wild ginger, woodland phlox, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit and the fragrant and highly edible sweet cicely, with leaves that can be used like spinach, stalks that can be lightly cooked for use like celery, roots to eat raw or cooked like parsnips, edible flower heads for decorating and seeds that can be ground to add nutty texture and a clovelike taste. It’s also one of the first plants to emerge and last to die back, Henrickson said, so it offers long interest in the garden.

For useful and varied workhorse plants, Henrickson recommends sedges. They filter pollutants, don’t have to be mowed or even cut back in spring, stabilize pond edges and even discourage waterfowl. “They have extremely varied ornamental characteristics and there’s one for almost every tough site from wet to dry, shade to sun,” Henrickson said.

Arboretum plants will be available at these sales:

  • May 9 Arboretum Spring Plant Sale from 9-1 p.m. at UNL East Campus, 38th and Leighton,
  • May 9 Community Crops Spring Plant Sale (includes arboretum plants) from 9:30-noon at Lancaster County Extension, 444 Cherrycreek Road,
  • Friday afternoon sales May 15, 22 and 29 from noon-5 p.m. at 38th & Leighton
  • May 29-June 9 wildflower events statewide,
  • Friday afternoon sales June 12 and 19 from noon-5pm at 38th & Leighton

Whatever your existing landscape, Henrickson welcomes gardeners to bring photos to get “the right plant in the right place.” Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is dedicated to improving and enhancing Nebraska community landscapes, promoting native plants and inspiring adults and children to get involved in gardening.

Karma Larsen
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

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