I've removed 2009's dates to avoid confusion.
Find 2010's native plant sales by clicking here.
Red baneberry - another woodland garden stalwart.
I like this plant because it's easy, fills out nice, and it's never been a bully. Even cooler? when those red berries are starting to drop, I start squishing some of the other berries on the plant to check for mature (black and hard, not white and mushy) seeds. I can plant those seed immediately directly into the ground and I've had a lot of success. Sometimes, to be extra thorough, I put some of the seeds into a ziploc baggie w/ hard moist sand, zip it up and rub my hands back and forth hard on the outside of the bag just to try to scratch up the seed coat / remove any growth inhibitor they may have. (I do that with a lot of berry seeds, basically i'm trying to gnash its coat like some furry critter would with its teeth, or bird would with its crop.) Now, lots of my neighbours have them too...and the shady city park plots across the street from my house, friends, absent landlord properties who've given me permission to replant them after i take out their weeds.
Pagoda dogwood - easy elegant woodland shrub, good wildlife value too.
Good for under planting deciduous tree woodlands.
Have a blast and thanks for fighting-the-good fight. The alternative is supporting exotic invasive horticultural crap, and that's not just dull (no bio-regional identity or stewardship), it's devastating. (For the real newbies: ecologically devastating biological invasions through careless horticulture practices are not unique to our region (somewhere on the other side of the planet someone is cursing our native Canadian Goldenrod right now). I forget who I'm about to paraphrase but, "any plant in the wrong place can cause harm." Most of this can no longer be excused as ignorance or casual accident.)
But... even when you are gardening with native plants, what I really wish I could tell you is how to save yourself from regret and grief later. Start with common plants, they'll get your soil back into action too. Also, think about why no wild-digging. No secret about it: those early errors, temptations and stupidities / lapses-of-good-judgement have always been there. (And if you're reading this, then ignorance is already no excuse). I've had my own mistakes, regrets and transgressions. And whether I try to chalk them up to naiveté, ambition, good intentions or recklessness, they keep coming back to hurt me more now than they did then. Rremember any frogs, bugs or animals you injured as a kid? It comes back to feel like that. No wonder, because the results are the same, just not as immediately evident. There's no wiping that slate clean and no real way to make up for it either: native plant gardens are no substitute for the complex fragile symphonies and necessities of the real thing.
Besides, a lot of native plants cannot exist outside of their super-specific habitat. Not just garden magazine and plant tag basics like light, moisture or pH -- but impossible to duplicate soil/plant/biota relationships and ecological processes. Some of those necessary associations are only known well enough that the best minds can tell us that they don't understand them. So bet-my-ass you can't buy it in a bag or replicate it in a landscape-in-bondage.
Our best native plant nursery growers know those differences better than you or me, because they've pushed those limits, out of curiousity or even out of crisis rescue situations at first maybe. What makes them our "best" is that they went on to do it with some accountability and scrutiny for legitimate restoration and conservation purposes, and have some ideas about impacts and sustainability over time. Not just vanity or profit. BTW: a plant that someone poaches today, even if they manage to prop up for a whole three years in their garden before they can say "and then it never came back" (without ever reproducing to boot), is not a temporary success, or even just a Failure, it's shameful. Or think of it this way: the good nurseries are a pre-qualifying test of what can survive and thrive in your garden or not: if a plant can't handle a nursery process, it has little to no chance of surviving your yard.
Native plant sources (like the ones I've recommended above) and recommendations appropriate to your region (e.g. see "Local and regional native plant recommendations & inventories") do matter: if you see crap like "grows in Zone 3-6" be more-than-cautious.
There are more than a few fundamental differences between the plants you can buy from the good native plant nurseries and those that you want to avoid (e.g. distantly sourced, cloned or patented cultivars -- and even poached plants -- at most conventional nurseries and parking lot garden centres). Unfortunately, most conventional nurseries and garden centre staff I talk to still don't know what those differences are.
I've learned most of what I know from good people, and the rest I learned the hard way, with no shortage of heartbreak and damage along the way. My advice? Make it easier for yourself simply by starting out by visiting the good native plant nurseries / sources already short-listed on this site. I don't go out of my way to trash the sketchy ones (although one of these days, I'm bound to lose my patience and let loose), and of course I am not perfect, or done being educated, and of course I don't know all the nurseries. Also, any propagator or eco-restorationist worth trusting can give you hard examples of how they have had to compromise their best possible practice scenarios in order to make a living and keep their business alive in what can be a less than perfectly funded or educated or accountable marketplace (including some big orgs, CA's and muni budgets, mandates and boards). They're also more skeptical than you might be: the best ones are constantly reevaluating their plantings' success or failure, over time, asking themselves which of their efforts are financial, wildlife and genetic "sinks". But, if they're listed on here, or if they've met SER-O or FGCA criteria, it's because they've already proven they can do one or more things (e.g. responsible ethical propagation, accessible public education, collaborative research or consultation, conservation) right.
If you want to learn more than (whatever makes it on to) this blog can teach you, treat yourself just by talking with folks at our local native plant nurseries and events. May and June are beautiful months for it! Bask and wallow! :)
Like most of my plants, I planted it with some bonemeal (yes not vegan, apologies, but, it's a natural slow release nitrogen, and i figure most of these plants are used to get bone from dead animals in the wild) and mycorhizal supplements in their planting hole. this usually does the does the trick. Neat tip: while native plants generally want fungal dominated soil (think mycorhizal fungi -- easy enough to create a hospitable environment for that by adding wood and bark chips and dry brown leaves on top of the soil) and not bacterial dominated soils (instead veggie / annuals/biennials like bacteria dominated soil you find in tilled veggie gardens regularly fed compost). Btw to learn about all that good soil ecology stuff, a good book you can get a the library or bookstore is still "Teaming with Microbes". However, like french grammar, there are always exception to the rule. I'm thinking that red trillium, jack-in-pulpit (and other plants i've seen in the wild have several habitat types including low mucky / periodic slow or standing water, with an overload of slow decaying plants) might actually want a bit more more bacteria / compost. so... while i never apply compost to the roots of those plants (has the potential to burn the roots), i've been top dressing my red trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits and red lobelia with aged veggie/kitchen compost each spring and fall for a few years now. seem to be something to that. Especially the red lobelia: i had a lot of losses (i'm a sucker for hummingbirds) before i started to faithfully top-dress them compost, now, they grow dead-easy for me!
BTW: Yes, i know that here in Toronto we see a lot of our red trilliums in sandy soils, especially those red & white pine/sugar maple/beech/hemlock low lands south of the old Lake Iroquois shoreline, but, out of town, I see them in sunnier low-land swamp muck a few feet up from of skunk cabbage along stream beds that dry in summer. So, if i can propagate them, i'll be recommending red trilliums for gardens that approximate either of those situations. In my garden, it's translated well in the mesic mostly clay fill that came with the place that I remediated w/ some sharp sand and woodchips and annual doses of lots of basswood leaf litter.