Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS
If you've been exploring the Hudson Valley this summer, you’ve probably seen cheery flowers like bee balm and black-eyed Susan popping up in parks, botanical gardens, and arboretums. Many of these flowers are actually native plants that grow naturally in our region and support the local ecosystem and its food webs better than introduced varieties.
To help identify some of these striking species, we turned to John Messerschmidt, a specialist in native gardens and owner of Hudson Valley Native Landscaping. Below are five native plants whose blooms you can spot outside this July, plus some helpful tips for adding them to your own garden. “All of these flowers are deer tolerant and will respond best in full sun, but will tolerate some shade,” he says. “But they’re all perfect for pollinators and will complement any garden.”
Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra)
Photo by Uleli / CC BY-SA
You'll find majestic queen of the prairie in naturally wet areas, like along streams or ponds. Its wild pink cloud-like flowers will surely elicit a “What’s that?” from everyone who sees it in your yard. Plant it near the back of your space, where the blooms can shoot up above the shorter plants in front.
Bunchflower (Melanthium virginicum)
Photo by Uleli / CC BY-SA
Bunchflower grows naturally in wetter areas like low-lying marsh. It shows off its white spires in June and July, and after the blooms fade, its striking seed pods will contribute interesting texture and shape to your garden for the rest of the summer.
Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Anise hyssop, a perennial of the mint family, grows naturally in dryer areas like upland forests, plains, and fields. Planted in your garden, it will add value throughout the growing season: first with the texture of its aromatic leaves, then with its gorgeous purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and pollinators, and last by offering its seeds to the birds. In the late summer and early fall you’ll still be enjoying its lime green leaves.
Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)
Photo by Shijan Kaakkara / CC BY-SA
Commonly found wild in prairies, glades, fields, and along roadsides, coreopsis is easy to grow and maintain. Scattered here and there throughout the garden, it will bring a long-lasting burst of cheery yellow color as your spring-blooming plants begin to fade.
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
A darling of pollinator gardens, bee balm is often found naturally in moist woodlands and along stream banks. It's very common in native gardens, and rightly so, because hummingbirds and bees alike love its spiky red flowers. Your local birds will also come calling in your garden after the plant has gone to seed. Its fragrant flowers make striking cut-flower arrangements, but be sure to leave enough for the pollinators to enjoy, too!