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Archive for the ‘Native Plants’ Category

Backyard Foraging

Ellen Zachos

Ellen Zachos

Ellen Zachos’ latest book Backyard Foraging is a beautiful and accessible resource for gardeners interested in native edibles. A frequent contributor to Brooklyn Botanic Garden handbooks, Ellen’s expertise and concise writing style is complimented by gorgeous photographs of the 65 featured species. She shares tips on finding and identifying plants and fungi in the urban ‘wild’, when and how to eat them, as well as tips for naturalizing them into your own home garden. Couldn’t recommend this one more!

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Spring brings a wealth of wild edibles to Brooklyn. Master gardener and native plants expert Sara Stopek let me take some pictures of what’s growing in her  Clinton Hill garden this week.

Blue Aster

Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) has delicious, tender greens in Spring. They have a mild flavor and a texture similar to young arugula. The plants pictured here enjoy growing underneath tall shrubs on the sunny side of the garden, but will thrive in deep shade too. Blue aster will bloom well into the fall when most other plants have quit for the season.

Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) are sometimes compared to asparagus with their ephemeral harvest and unique, pleasant flavor. I like them sautéed with ramps (see below) alongside a hearty omelette. The plants pictured here enjoy the wetter and shadier part of the yard, and have self-propagated from a handful of starter plants to cover a 16 square foot patch in just a couple of years.

Ramps

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) taste and smell much like leeks. I have found large patches of ramps thriving under the thick deciduous forests in the Catskills, but the plants pictured here seem just as happy to grow in a container beside strawberries.

Amelanchier, aka “Juneberry”

Juneberries (Amelanchier) have a uniquely delicious flavor I can only describe as subtle cherry crossed with magic. Gorgeous white Spring blossoms (pictured here) are followed by bundles of red berries in early Summer. Juneberry trees come in a range of sizes so you can choose the a variety that best fits your garden.

Blueberry blossoms

Blueberries (Vaccinium) bear fruit in mid-late Summer, but I couldn’t resist photographing these beautiful Spring blossoms. There are so many different kinds of blueberries available from native plants nurseries, and it is recommended to grow several varieties of blueberry in your garden for best fruiting. While often grown in full sun, the plants pictured here are thriving in containers on a front stoop with only partial sun.

container-grown Blueberry

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