Arrowwood offers design, installation, and maintainance of natural habitat spaces,
allowing clients the special opportunity to have not only a landscape,
but a bonafide nature preserve.
While some gardeners and homeowners like to improvise their own mixed plant palette,
any given space could also be well-suited to a natural habitat theme based on site conditions.
Here are some of our region's naturally ocurring habitats and corresponding native plant communities. We hope this is a helpful guide for those interested in re-envisioning and restoring their landscapes.
Meadow habitats are often full sun to part-sun areas of relatively flat topography and consistently moist soil. Meadows perform vital ecological functions such as water filtration and nesting ground for many insects and animals, and they heavily support pollinating insects with an abundance of flowers throughout the growing season. A sunny lawn area might smoothly convert to a lush mixed wildflower meadow in just a few short years. Well-established Meadow conversions can also multiply savings of time, toil, money, and natural resources over many years.
PRAIRIE and SAVANNAH
Prairies and Savannahs are ecosystems typically dominated by wild grasses and characterized by a mostly level topography, moderate to dry soil, and full sun exposure. Arrowwood Gardens performs design installations and ongoing care of low-maintenance modified savannahs and prairie habitats composed of indigenous drought tolerant plants like Prairie Dropseed, Sideoats Grama, Fringeleaf Wild Petunia, Bluejackets, and Prairie Coneflower -- all of which have special legal designations in Pennsylvania. Water conservation gardens, otherwise referred to as dryscapes or xeriscapes are great opportunities to reconstitute perennial prairie habitat.
Woodland gardens are partly to fully-shaded areas of canopy understory characterized by relatively dense populations of hardwood species (trees, shrubs, and woody vines). Shaded urban gardens will naturally borrow from among the most dependable native plants in the woodland garden palette. Many people feel discouraged and pessimistic about the shaded sections of their property, believing that little can be done or planted with limited sunlight. This is a common misunderstanding. There are many beautiful and unsung native plants well-suited to difficult sites, including deep shade, and even dry shade -- like the dry-shade-tolerant Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) featured to the left.
Urban gardens have particular challenges -- like spacial limitations, disturbance, and air, water, and soil pollution. Nonetheless there are a great many tough and reliable native plant species that will succeed and even thrive in an urban environment, whether it's in sun or shade. Here in Philadelphia where we also have heavy clay soil there are many native plants - like Sedges, Foxgloves Beardtongues, Violets, Wood Asters, tall prairie grasses, and Chokeberries - which perform consistently well. Not only do native plants improve soil over time, many of them are capable of also performing the fascinating work of phytoremediation by absorbing toxins in the soil, or else by introducing the fungal mycorrhizae capable of metabolizing toxins. Meanwhile above ground, the unique foliage of native plants is often a perfect accent to its surrounding architecture. Though there are many non-native spring bulbs featured here, there are also thriving groundcover colonies of yellow-flowering Barren Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) and lavender Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata).
Coastal habitats in the mid-atlantic area feature a long list of beautiful and under-appreciated shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses. These plants perform valuable ecological services, such as providing wildlife habitat, erosion control, windbreaks, storm-water filtration, and storm buffers. Tough wind-tolerant plants like Bitter Panicgrass, Beachgrass, Seaside Goldenrod, Northern Bayberry, and Beach Plum give our beaches and bluffs their distinct character. Damp coastal marsh areas on the other hand include tall herbaceous semi-aquatic species like Rose Mallow (left), Switchgrass, Cattails, and Sea Myrtle. All plants mentioned can be either grown or sourced by Arrowwood.