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HABITAT: Expert Advice on Native Plants

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Your home improvement questions answered.Question:

I’ve been hearing a lot about the benefits of native plants over the last few years, and I’d like to try growing some myself. But I have a lot of big old trees on my property and my garden doesn’t get much sun. What would survive?

Answer from Denise Cowie, coordinator, Greater Philadelphia Gardens: The conditions you describe would be just right for a woodland garden, which would be at its flowering peak in spring. A woodland garden mimics the layers of a natural forest, with trees, shrubs, perennials and ground-covers. You already have the trees, which provide the dappled light demanded by trilliums, foamflower, wild phlox, bloodroot, dogtooth violets, Virginia bluebells and native azaleas. But before you start planning, I’d suggest you visit some public gardens and maybe take a class or two. Visit greaterphiladelphiagardens.org for information on public gardens. The site also has an events calendar, where you’ll find classes featuring native plants in April and May.

Have a question for an expert? E-mail tbehan@mainlinetoday.com.