From Deck to Dock:  Plants for a Northern Neck Home – Fun in the Sun

Monarch caterpillars feasting on a butterfly weed

The Northern Neck Master Gardeners (NNMG) will hold their “From Deck to Dock” plant sale at Dug In Farms, 155 Fleets Bay Road, White Stone. Sale dates are April 30 to May 2, and hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. A large selection of plants, shrubs, and ornamentals will be available for sale. Extension Master Gardeners will be there to assist customers.

“The sale will offer a variety of sun loving plants,” said NNMG President Marge Gibson. “Sun loving plants need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of full direct sunlight each day, but the sun exposure can be broken into parts such as 4 hours in the morning followed by additional hours in direct sun later in the afternoon.”

“Choosing the right plants for a sunny location can be an overwhelming decision because there are so many varieties,” continued Gibson. “There will be several sun-loving perennial flowers and shrubs available at the sale.”

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), not to be confused with the invasive butterfly bush, is a must for any butterfly garden. Butterfly weed unfurls rounded clusters of orange flowers in late spring to early fall. Stokes’ asters (Stokesia laevis) are prized for their midsummer and fall flower show and a favorite stopping point for pollinators. False indigo (Baptisia) blooms in March, April, or early May depending on the species, for a duration of three to six weeks. They are host plants for the larvae of several butterfly species. Once established they are very drought tolerant due to their deep root system. Coneflowers (Echinacea species) bloom heavily from summer to fall.

“A great way to fill in your landscape and give it structure is to add shrubs,” added Michelle Kramer, Chair of the NNMG Plant Sale. “They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes to meet every need in the landscape.”  

A persistently wet spot may be perfect for buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), a magnet for butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Its fragrant white flowers appear in mid-summer and are unique, pincushion-like shape. Red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), another choice for the wetter parts of your landscape, blooms mid-spring to summer and has great wildlife value. The outstanding red winter stems give this plant its name. Sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) is a gorgeous deciduous shrub featuring spikes of very fragrant white flowers blooming for four to six weeks in mid to late summer. The flowers literally hum with bees, butterflies, and other native insects at bloom time. Sweet pepperbush grows in full sun to part shade and tolerates both dry and wet soils.

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