Plants are cool!
I’ve always been interested in plants. In large part, that is why I chose ornamental horticulture as a major in college many years ago. Plants are so diverse and impact our lives in so many ways. They provide us with food, clothing, shelter and even pharmaceuticals for better health. Regarding diversity, consider the difference between a large oak tree and a tiny moss or groundcover. Consider a Saguaro cactus and then a tropical philodendron. What about the fact that some plants can tolerate 50 degrees below zero but others can’t take a light frost? These are the grand, obvious differences but there are also many minute differences that further make the world of plants so interesting.
For our purposes here let’s consider their ability to provide shade, privacy and beauty around our homes. I’m always talking about “right plant, right place”. There are so many species and varieties, there is a plant that fits in every situation. It’s a matter of knowing and picking the right one. Most new home landscaping is done by builders just to satisfy an HOA or city requirement to gain occupancy. They commonly use the faster growing plants because they are bigger and cheaper. The selection can be rather monotonous and lacking imagination. A large portion of our work is in tearing out these installations and renovating after a few years.
But back to the “coolness” topic. There are many interesting and useful trees that are hardy but little used in the central Ohio area. There’s the hardy rubber tree that actually produces latex. If you can find a siebold viburnum, crush the leaves and smell the green peppers! I know you can find a purple smokebush. Bite the leaves and taste carrots! Did you know that Serviceberry tree fruits are edible and quite delicious? Try a serviceberry pie! Did you realize that red chokeberry fruit is the highest in antioxidants? It is grown as a health food crop in some areas. If you get out west, stick your nose in the bark of a large Ponderosa pine and smell the vanilla! We grow the Amur cork tree, a very hardy, drought tolerant tree from Asia known for its thick, corky bark. I also like the European or black Alder which is a rapid growing, dark green tree which pulls its nitrogen out of the air!
I love working with plants. We can accomplish a lot for relatively little cost around your home with plants. Of course today many folks place a priority on pavers, walls and firepits. These are all nice, functional features but they will significantly add to the cost of a project. Consider a low maintenance “garden” around your home for beauty, interest, comfort, relaxation and privacy.