Fall is one of my favorite times in my native plant garden. For all the delicate beauty of our native spring-blooming perennials, I find the dramatic colors of late summer and early autumn to be much more satisfying: the strong purples of the asters, the vivid yellow of goldenrod, the emerging bronze and burgundy of native grasses like little bluestem and switchgrass.
And though I personally find it a less compelling aspect of Fall, this is also the onset of football season. Yet I know that many of the customers of Herring Run Nursery , the non-profit native plant nursery I help manage in Baltimore, are Baltimore Ravens fans: purple, gold, and black jerseys are a frequent site at the those occasions when our nursery is open on a game day.
Is it a coincidence that purple and gold are the colors of Fall in the native plant garden and also of the Baltimore Ravens? I don’t know.
I do know that native plant gardeners and football fans are not mutually exclusive groups, so if you enjoy both why not combine your passions?
Constructing a native Baltimore Ravens garden would not be hard to do. Aster ‘Purple Dome’, Solidago odora, and Aster ericoides would make a nice purple, gold, and white themed wildlife garden. The combination will show of your passion for football as well as attract more beneficial wildlife to your yard.
Not a football fan? How about them O’s! The Baltimore Orioles are our “native” baseball team and are enjoying their first winning season since 1997. Their team colors are orange and black, just like the bird. Black is a hard plant color to achieve, but orange isn’t. A native plant garden composed largely of butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) would be a stunning tribute to the Orioles and magnet for pollinators of all types in early summer (including the stunning Monarch butterfly which also happens to share its black and orange coloration with our team mascot).
Along the same lines, we often use white turtlehead in our landscape designs – especially in rain gardens – and it is the larval host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. The Baltimore Checkerspot is not a common butterfly in Baltimore gardens, but it dramatically shares the same orange and black coloration as the Baltimore Orioles mascot. And of course a native plant garden is great way to attract Baltimore Orioles (the bird) too.
What is your favorite football team? Which native plants can YOU use to create a garden to support wildlife AND show your spirit for your professional or academic sports teams?
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