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Jardin du Fort
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Northern Indiana Biome

Hello. I'm planning on starting a garden in my backyard here in northern Indiana. I have two options as I see it. One: garden only veggies. Two: garden along with the veggies a collection of herbs, flowers, weeds, whatever, that would assist the biome as a whole.

So, I was wondering if any of the experts here have a good idea just what kind of plants I should be including for my locale. Cosmos is a likely candidate, as are marigolds. What else?

My backyard is already home to numerous non-lawn plants: vines, trees, perennials, and occasionally a weed or two. :wink:

Darrell S.

cynthia_h
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I think that sounds **absolutely wonderful**! :applause:

The Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society can probably assist you in selecting flowers and even perennial herbs for your garden. These will attract pollinators and birds--powerful allies against insects harmful to veggies and other plants--to your garden. :)

Many of our common vegetable plants were brought over from Europe by settlers and therefore aren't native to this continent, even though to us they seem to have been here "forever." The honeybee was also an imported exotic. It may not be possible to have an entirely native northern Indiana biome, but surely INPAWS will have information to help you go as far in that direction as you can manage or would like to push. (And, of course, it doesn't need to happen all in the first year. Simply avoid making irretrievable mistakes, like planting Indiana's worst invasives. :D )

Again, how wonderful. I hope you reap a bountiful harvest of beautiful airborne sightings: hummingbirds, dragonflies, and other iridescent flyers.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Jardin du Fort
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INPAWS

Cynthia,

Thanks for the lead on INPAWS. At least they have listings of plants that are good guys and bad guys for my area. According to them my Virginia Creeper is already a good guy. I have my doubts, but I guess as long as it remains undisturbed I won't have to deal with its toxicity.

I wish their site included benefits such as what plants attract what insects, but I guess that info is out there with more research.

Darrell S.
aka Jardin du Fort

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rainbowgardener
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https://www.wildflower.org/plants/ done by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at U Texas, is a searchable database for native plants. You can input criteria (like plant, shrub, tree, sun/ moisture conditions) and it will give you a list of plants native to your state that meet those requirements. If you click on each plant in the list, it will give you some info about habitat value of that plant.

I think you will find mixing veggies, flowers, herbs gives you a beautiful garden that attracts beneficial insects, reduces problems from pests and diseases and is more productive over a longer season, compared to the typical monoculture veggie garden.
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Susan W
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This is an interesting area of study and doing, with no one answer. I've messed some with the 18th c herb garden, herb/plants/flowers, native and introduced. One thing I have found is try to keep annuals and perennials separate. This is for ease of preparing, tending, harvesting etc.

You could dedicate one part of the garden to the herbs/perennials. As mentioned above, most the the culinary herbs we are familiar with are introduced (British and French for your area). You can then go with some native prairie type plants such as coneflower, native sunflowers and/or mix in others such as lavender, rue, comfrey (intro).

Fair warning. The herb/perennial bed takes a few years to get going, is ever changing and challenging and can be most re-warding.
Have fun!
Susan

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Jardin du Fort
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what is here now

When we bought this house ten years ago, the previous owner had planted many perennials around the border of the back yard. She worked at a Menards garden center, and brought home a LOT of stuff. Interspersed among the perennials, she would place pots of annuals, burying the pots into the ground. I am still digging up some of these old pots!

My back yard fence is in process of being totally rebuilt. It was a 6' cedar privacy fence, with cedar posts set in concrete, and built in the '60's, and guess what? the cedar post are rotted out! On this fence has been growing Trumpet Vine on the west side, and Virginia Creeper on the south and east sides. In the lawn is what may be Indian (false) strawberry. The north fence has been infested with what may be bindweed, which is indeed spreading like bindweed! English ivy has been gradually spreading from the northwest (front) of the house around to the east. It will not reach the back yard due to a concrete patio separation. Deadly nightshade seems to show its ugly self quite regularly, although I pull it out whenever I find it. We have Tiger lillies, a Hybiscus, one rambunctious rose that over-produced blooms this last summer, wild roses along the east fence, three dwarf hydrangea trees, and two (or more) forcythia bushes. There had been a small planting of decorative oat grass that I didn't know had to be absolutely contained before going to seed, so now this is sprouting up all over. The south side of the house has three unknown shrubs. They are now trimmed back to about 5' to 6' but had previously been out of hand. One has red leaves. I will likely keep them, as this wall of the house is quite bare.

I know there are many other plants currently growing out there, but I either haven't identified them yet, haven't noticed them yet, or have simply forgotten them.

The two street sides of the fence have been rebuilt, but the south side is currently half missing. I had to remove several trees and get the stumps ground out before continuing, and the weather has caught up with me. The remaining half of the south fence, and the east fence are still original and will be rebuilt as time and finances permit. Yes, they are partially falling down now! Isn't that what brace poles are for?

Also, I have been reading "One Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka, and he has some ... revolutionary ideas about natural gardening. I like his ideas a lot, but am not sure just how practical they are to a "kitchen" garden. Nevertheless, there are some principles, like biodiversity, and natural composting, that I think are essential.

The next two years will likely see the greatest change my back yard has seen for a long time. I will finish the fence, put in a garden, probably put in a garden fence (to keep the collie out!) and likely remove some plants and replace them with others. I would LOVE to have one or two healthy long-term deciduous trees along the south edge (but not IN the fence!!!!) perhaps an oak or beech tree.

Nothing happens quickly around here, but it happens.

HAPPY NEW YEAR :clap:

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ElizabethB
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Jardin - I am so impressed :!: What a wonderful project. I love a garden that incorporates many different elements - shrubs, perennials, annuals, grasses, herbs, vegetables. You have an understanding of the extreme planning you will have to do. Planting plants with similar needs next to each other, mature size, bloom time. All critical to a successful mixed garden. Before you plant your trees consider and plan for the impact of the shade on the rest of your garden in years to come.

Looking forward to hearing more from you as your project unfolds. Welcome to the forum and Happy New Year.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

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rainbowgardener
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Some of us read One Straw Revolution together in 2011, as a book club. Discussion of it is here:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... hp?t=30515

I thought it was an amazing little book, very dense with ideas.

You have lots of good ideas and plans; I am looking forward to updates from you as to how it is all going.
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Jardin du Fort
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White "Dutch" Clover

So I was reading "One Straw Revolution" and saw where Fukuoka-san uses white clover as a ground cover on his rice - grain field. As I recall, white clover is very attractive to bees. I remember getting stung on the sole of the foot as a child, having stepped on a bee in the clover on my neighbor's yard. :cry:

I also read that white clover is not "native" to the USA, although at this time it seems to be pretty much everywhere. Is it considered to be beneficial in our context, or should it be avoided? I would like to attract bees, as well as provide ground cover in a non-competitive way. :?:

What other "native" flowers would be good to attract bees? And while I'm at it, being in the "inner city" do I need to provide my own hive? :?:

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Jardin du Fort
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The Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society can probably assist you in selecting flowers and even perennial herbs for your garden. These will attract pollinators and birds--powerful allies against insects harmful to veggies and other plants--to your garden.
Having checked out the INPAWS site, specifically the "Landscape-Worthy Indiana Natives" pages as well as their attachment pages to the Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening, I have begun making a list of potentials for my yard. These include flowering perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees.

Perhaps a bit long at the moment, I'm sure this list will get whittled down. There is perhaps a bit of redundancy in the useful purpose of some of the varieties, but that is not necessarily bad. Anyway, here's the "plants to investigate" list:

Wild Bergamot, Stiff goldenrod, Garden phlox, Ohio spiderwort, bird's foot voilet , beardstongue, blue star, dwarf crested iris, false spikenard or false Solomon's seal, Solomon's seal, wild geranium, Jacob's ladder, bloodroot, three-leaved stonecrop, northern sea oats, roughleaf dogwood, black chokeberry, nannyberry viburnum, Allegheny serviceberry, American elderberry, gray dogwood

Does anyone have any comments, positive or negative, about any of these plants, or have any personal experience with any of them :?:

Thanks

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rainbowgardener
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Wild Bergamot, Stiff goldenrod, Garden phlox, Ohio spiderwort, bird's foot voilet , beardstongue, blue star, dwarf crested iris, false spikenard or false Solomon's seal, Solomon's seal, wild geranium, Jacob's ladder, bloodroot, three-leaved stonecrop, northern sea oats, roughleaf dogwood, black chokeberry, nannyberry viburnum, Allegheny serviceberry, American elderberry, gray dogwood


Wonderful list! You've done your homework well. So now you need to start thinking about conditions, sun/shade.

bergamot is essentially bee balm. One of my favorites, bees and butterflies love it and it is wonderful in herbal tea blends. Very hardy and adaptable to sun or part shade, grows well, but for me anyway, doesn't spread much.

Is the garden phlox the creeping phlox or the tall one? The creeping phlox makes a very nice ground cover and again is pretty adaptable to conditions from full sun to pretty shady.

Spiderwort is pretty much a shady conditions plant, doesn't like too much sun. I think they are very pretty, but it isn't real showy.

I don't know violets to know how different the birds foot is from the common violet. I don't plant violets because the common violet is everywhere. Lots of people diligently weed them out, I leave them. I love how the spring lawn looks with dandelions and violets in it. Violet leaves and flowers are edible and I always add them to spring salads.

I'm going to have to leave for work pretty soon, I will come back to this later, but just add that viburnum and serviceberry are my favorite shrubs, the ones I always recommend to everyone. There are 40+ species of birds that love serviceberries! Lots of birds also like the viburnum berries and it is deliciously fragrant in spring, the most fragrant thing in my garden.
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rainbowgardener
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I'm at work now and my first client cancelled, so a little more:

beardstongue, blue star, dwarf crested iris, false spikenard or false Solomon's seal, Solomon's seal, wild geranium, Jacob's ladder, bloodroot, three-leaved stonecrop, northern sea oats, roughleaf dogwood, black chokeberry, nannyberry viburnum, Allegheny serviceberry, American elderberry, gray dogwood

Beardstongue/ penstemon is one of those nice native sun-lovers, drought tolerant, attractive to beneficial insects, hardy and vigorous, but not spreading.

Solomon's seal and false solomon's seal are woodland shade lovers, spring ephemerals. There is a hybrid Solomon's seal if you aren't purist about exactly native varieties. It is the same species, just a cultivar. It is a bit variegated with white edges, which makes it stand out more in the shade garden. It is a lot more long-lasting in the garden. The wild Solomon's seal is pretty ephemeral, disappears by the time the weather warms. The hybrid variety lasts until it gets really hot and may last all season if you keep it watered. It spreads quickly, but not invasively into really pretty colonies of arched stems. I think Solomon's seal is way under used in shade gardens.

To me the wild geranium is a weed (weed being of course in the eye of the beholder). It pops up everywhere and I pull most of it out.

The bloodroot is a lovely little woodland shade ground cover plant, will even grow in the shade under trees. I have some in my woodland shade garden, but it doesn't love my alkaline soil. Unlike some of the acid lovers, it doesn't die, but it doesn't spread the way it should. If you have slightly acid to neutral soil, it will spread nicely and be very pretty. But only in shade and rich, humus-y soil.

I planted goldenrod in my garden one time, because I love the look of the fall roadsides, with goldenrod and purple asters together. I don't know which species it was, because I just dug it up from a roadside. But I ended up digging it all out again. I have limited space and the goldenrod was taking it all over. It spread aggressively from the roots and also popped up all over the place from seed. I only planted it in the front yard, but it appeared in the backyard also. It was actually quite a chore to get rid of it all. I still would love to have goldenrod and sometime will look around and see if there is some dwarf cultivar that is better behaved. (The roadside one also got huge in my rich soil.)

Stonecrop/sedum is a nice fall bloomer, bees love it and it provides sustenance for them when there isn't as much blooming. Again if you don't mind having hybrid cultivars, there are red, purple and variegated varieties.

Re bees, since you are just starting out in all this, you will have plenty else to do without taking on being a beekeeper. Plant a lot of things the bees like (which you are well on the way to doing) and see what happens. Most likely the bees will appear on their own. If not you can think about bee hive some other year, when things are better established. I have lots of native wildflowers and always had some bees in my yard, but not lots and lots. Then my Quaker Meeting (church) five blocks away put in a beehive and suddenly I had three times as many bees in my yard. But after three years of having the hive, it got infested with some kind of mite and we are having to sacrifice the hive and start over in the spring. So even in relatively good conditions (it is on a 5 acre property that is totally organically managed and has tons of diverse native wildflowers), it can be difficult to keep bees these days.
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rainbowgardener
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For some reason it is not letting me edit my posts now.

Here's the variegated Solomon's seal:

Image
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Jardin du Fort
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Thanks RainbowG!

The Missouri website has pretty detailed info on most of these plants. I tried to get a mixed variety in order to draw bees, butterflies, many birds, and other beneficial bugs. I also have a mix of areas where I can put plants. There are two rock gardens, one with full shade under a crabapple tree on the north side of the house, and one with partial shade under a pine tree on the south-west side. The entire fence along the south side is available for renovation once the fence project is completed, being on the shady side of the fence. This is the low area of the yard and more likely to hold moisture. The south side of the house currently has three shrubs of unknown pedigree and a tangle of weeds underneath. The shrubs could stay, or could go, opening the space for new varieties. The option of groundcover(s) is quite real, hopefully thick enough to discourage new weeds once the soil is cleared out and re-planted. There is a small bed beside the patio with our solitary rose at one end, and spring tulips. Otherwise it is currently wild and prone to weeds and the oat grass. It definitely needs some kind of border plant that can take full sun. Then there are the east and west fence areas with partial sun. They both have some existing plants, but both have vacant areas.

The next issue, once I have finalized what plants I want to get, is where to get them. Free or inexpensive sources would be best at this point, but that may be unrealistic. Assuming that I am going to have to pay real money to obtain some of these plants, I don't expect to do all of this in one, two, or even three years. It will be an ongoing project. (aren't they all!) :wink:

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rainbowgardener
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well you did ask:

Does anyone have any comments, positive or negative, about any of these plants, or have any personal experience with any of them


What I gave you was pretty much my personal experiences with them...
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Jardin du Fort
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What I gave you was pretty much my personal experiences with them...
And again RainbowG I thank you! I consider your input on this matter quite valuable and will take your comments in consideration.

Thanks! :D

bangstrom
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Re: Northern Indiana Biome

Some more candidates for wild flowers are cone flowers, orange butterfly milkweed, columbines, lanceleaf coreopsis, and prairie blazing star.
I agree that spider wort isn't very showy and it has become a weed in my yard.

Pawpaws are nice trees for fruit and landscaping and they have few insect pests so they don't need to be sprayed. Two trees in close proximity are needed for pollination.

Most species of bees are solitary and don't live in hives. Bee houses for ground nesting bees are popular in Europe and they are easy to construct but they should not be used year after year to avoid the accumulation of disease and mites.

https://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-f ... House.aspx
https://foxleas.com/bee_house.htm

RiverviewNatives
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Re: Northern Indiana Biome

Check the INPAWS list of native plant nurseries in northeast Indiana again. Riverview Nursery was added this spring. Plant prices are reasonable because they sell at farmers markets. Plants are local genotypes to northeast Indiana.

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Re: Northern Indiana Biome

Great information. Everyone should try to incorporate natives in their yard whenever possible. If you have an arbor day tree giveaway in your location, it is a good place to pick up a native shrub or tree. It is usually held in the Spring, but in Hawaii it is held on the first Saturday in November. I have an endemic gardenia(nanu) from the give away.

You have a great plant list. I cannot grow most of those things because they either require a colder zone or would be invasive here.

One man's native could be another's weed. That is why my state discourages anyone from planting wildflower mixes from the mainland. Wildflowers, by their very nature, reseed and can overtake the slow growing natives. Over the last 250 years, many alien plants have been introduced and naturalized, some of them are threatening the natives that evolved without much competition from other plants and in an environment with few pests.

Managed beehives can still be infested with varoa mites and hive beetles, but can be managed with insecticides.

According to our local bee specialist, the managed hives are the best chance for the survival of the bees, at least until mother nature comes up with a better strategy. The bees will herd and corner the hive beetle and put them in beetle jail or drive them into oil traps. Managing the hive means keeping them healthy and reducing environmental stressors, like pesticides and having reliable pesticide free nectar sources.

Managed hives are inspected regularly and treated with chemicals only when necessary. The hive at the garden is healthy now and expanding, but is treated once every three months or so to control the varoa mites. The bees are slowly making a comeback, but for a while, bees were rare. We also put out artificial hives to attract leaf cutter and carpenter bees. The solitary bees are good pollinators but do not make honey. Since they do not congregate in large numbers, the mites and hive beetles aren't a big problem for them.


https://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/h ... bee-h.html
https://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publica ... A-7075.pdf
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.



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