Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Hunting down native plants


When we took our first trip to a nursery last spring, we were shocked at how much plants and trees go for these days. Our dreams of a nice, lush yard full of trees, bushes and flowers quickly vanished as we looked at pricetags. We ended up settling for a spindley little crab tree from Home Depot.

This year, we’re planning to buy another tree (thanks to a very generous gift certificate from my cousin!) and will probably plant some annuals to prettify our somewhat meager flower beds.

We’re also interested in finding some native plants to fill out our landscaping. There are plenty of woodsy areas around that wouldn’t miss a small bush or two – especially out where Teague grew up. We’ll be sure to ask nicely before digging ;)

Here are a few good resources on landscaping with native plants:
Frugal Landscaping with Native Plants – The Dollar Stretcher
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
US Dept. Of Agriculture’s extensive plant database
Wild Ones: Landscaping with Native Plants

Has anyone taken the “dig it up” route, as opposed to buying everything from a nursery? If so, any pointers about where to dig, or how to ask?

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Leah had this to say on 05.05.06:

Hey Mindy,
I’ve found that networking and helping friends get rid of their “extra” plants and shrubs in the early spring and fall is the best way to acquire established plants that are good local growers – the free factor is wonderful, of course, but the good feeling of knowing your garden comes from friends and family members makes it extra special. I have many heirloom plants that mean more to me than anything I’ve bought, if just for the nostalgia factor.

Also, I would recommend planting a few choice perennials (do some research, figure out what you like the best) throughout your yard instead of spending money on annuals that won’t come back year after year.

Unless of course you’re desperate to get some color in your yard immediately and don’t care whether or not it comes back next year…I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for pansies and snapdragons and coleus, to name a few. ;)

Some of my favorite perennials that I know are hardy to the northeast? Bleeding heart, columbine, poppies, hostas/ferns, lavender, sage, asters, coreopsis, shasta daisies, foxglove (sometimes a biennial), iris, and whatever bulbs you can get your hands on – tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, anemones, etc.

My favorite shrubs/bushes? A nice purple butterfly bush will do great year after year and take up lots of space – and it really does attract a lot of butterflies. Lilacs smell wonderful, but the bloom time is short. Our Rose of Sharon bushes (really, they’re almost little trees) bloom throughout the summer and make a good hedge (and we keep finding random new plants coming up throughout the yard.

Just some ideas…Hope this helps!
How are the floors coming?


Patricia W. had this to say on 05.05.06:

My sister has a couple seedlings she dug up adn transplanted. She didn’t ask permission though. Bad girl.

mindy had this to say on 05.05.06:

Ooooh, thanks for the info Leah! You got me all inspired to go make some good plant choices;) We have a bleeding heart out front, and it’s my favorite of all our plants – it fills alot of space and has such delicate little flowers. Ours is white, like this one:,%20White%20Bleeding%20Heart.html

I also forgot, I’ve got some money tucked away to buy a Cranberry bush – that will give us some lengthier color (the berries persist into winter) and should also attract some birds. Maybe this spring we’ll finally get our feeder up… it’s been stored in the shed since our move-in day. Tsk tsk.

Jocelyn had this to say on 05.06.06:

Alot of perennials will multiply as others have said. Also, you could see if your community holds any plant exchanges where people bring extra seedlings and trade. Around here you can trade cookies for plants. I know most gardeners would rather give a plant away than toss it.

Also maybe your town or one nearby gives away bulbs etc…? In Chicago they dig them up and have a huge bulb free day. End of season at places they go on sale too.

Ernest had this to say on 05.06.06:

Oh yes, I remember those days. When I first moved to an Island near Seattle (years ago), I was so poor that I would actually visit my local cemetery to look for cast-off pots -they had a heap of old pots near the back corner of the cemetery. I would dig for top soil in the woods, and search high and low for seedlings. You might be surprised at what you can find if you are willing to be creative and set aside your pride. I was so much more sensible when I was young and poor. Everything was a treat.

Tex MacRae had this to say on 05.06.06:

Hi Mindy –

I’m Tex from the 1880’s Italianate blog and I think we’re fairly close to you.

If you’re interested in a few million daylillies, we’ll fix you right up. Also, we have sugar maple and red maple seedlings all over, some of them 3-6 ft, as well as green ash saplings suitable for transplant.

Oh, and lots of periwinkle, pachysandra and vinca groundcovers. This fall, I’ll probably divide peonies, ferns and hosta.

Let me know if you’re interested.


Jenne had this to say on 05.07.06:

I just purchased some, so I don’t know yet…but “Rosa Rugosa” is supposed to create beautiful thick rose covered hedges. They’re supposed to be able to tolerate anything and are covered with old fashioned looking roses. Mine are currently little twigs…but they’re supposed to grow easily. I’ll let you know. For some reason, I have this weird idea my house needs to be surrounded by ferns and roses…my idea of what are old fashioned flowers is limited, I guess. :)

Danielle had this to say on 05.08.06:

Hi Mindy – A woman I used to work with now runs her own business and sells perennials in Kirkland, NY. The website for her business is On the site she has a plant listing that describes all sorts of perennials that will work in various climates. And,each season she has a newsletter that focuses on a few of these (the newsletters are also accessible from this site). If you’re interested, you can check there for which perennials might work for you.

Poppy had this to say on 05.08.06:

Mindy…go to and join. Then go to their garden forums and to the plant exchange section. Lots of people there are willing to send newbie gardeners starts from their garden in exchange for postage to help them get theirs underway. I received over 35 new plants last year and you should see how beautiful my flowerbeds are getting. Check my site later this week and I should have some photos up of my new beds. I’ve learned tons about gardening from The Garden Web.


Kristin had this to say on 05.16.06:

I like GardenWeb, too. You can find the answer to any question there! Since I’m arriving a million years late to this post, I know you already got trees from Teague’s parents place, but another good place is the Arbor Day Foundation. But a pointer for there is that if you’re not a super-dedicated gardener, don’t bother with the 10 free trees. They were teensy babies and I think every last one of ours died. However, we also bought some plants from them, and they’re all doing beautifully. Our little hazelnut trees are just darling! :)

Ed Lilly had this to say on 01.01.07:

Hi. I am a frugal landscaper too and am interested in restoring a hillside with native daylillies. I was wondering if you could put me in touch with Tex Macrae who was offering “a few million daylillies”



We love to hear from you, dear readers.

Please note: Comments are moderated to keep out the spam. It may take a while for them to show on the page.