Known primarily for its spectacular spring floral display, the Flowering Dogwood shines as a small understory tree in the native landscape. Reaching up to 30 feet tall, this Green Ribbon Native tree grows well in shade, but will flaunt even more white blossoms in full sun. Not only does this small tree provide interest in spring but also presents striking red berries and maroon foliage in fall followed by architectural lines and interesting bark in winter. While this tree grows well in many locations, it prefers to grow in moist, acidic soils and in full sun. Flowering Dogwood is a perfect native specimen tree for the home landscape or can easily integrate in a native woodland setting.
The mountain laurel is an ericaceous evergreen shrub with delicately ornate white to pink flowers. In addition to being one of the harbingers of spring and summer with its late May bloom time, the mountain laurel is Pennsylvania’s official state flower. These shrubs grow 4-10 feet tall with a typical spread of 4-5 feet. Along with the attractive flowers and evergreen foliage, mountain laurels also have very interesting form with a gnarled trucking pattern and dark bark that can be considered ornamental in its own right. While mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub that provides year-round interest with its form and foliage, it is not densely evergreen, and is typically used more as an accent than a screen.
The native range of the mountain laurel extends across the Eastern United States from Maine to Mississippi. They enjoy rocky, acidic soil that is moist with good drainage, but will also tolerate drier soil. Although wild mountain laurels can be found in the native woodland in large groves that sweep across deeply shaded hillsides, they are not aggressive and will not likely seed around your garden. Mountain laurels will grow in sun or shade and are fairly low maintenance. Pruning dead branches and removing old flower heads will give the plant a more tidy appearance, but is not necessary. While many wild birds use Mountain Laurels as a source of food, this plant is poisonous to humans.
With its vibrant red and yellow trumpet-shaped blooms on top of tiers of paired deep green leaves, Indian Pink is easily one of our region’s most stunning perennials. Take one look at Indian Pink and you’ll understand why this plant is a “must have” for gardeners wanting to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. This early-summer bloomer grows best in lightly shaded or mostly-sunny areas in the garden such as a mixed perennial border or woodland edge. At 1-2 feet tall, with a spread of up to 2 feet, Indian Pink is the perfect complement to other Green Ribbon natives like Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) or Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Indian Pink grows well in moist soil and, once established, requires very little maintenance for gardeners in USDA zones 6-9.