Cloverdale Interpretive Garden
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In 2011, NASA entered into a Space Act Agreement with the Moore House Society of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) to implement an interpretive garden for educational purposes and to better publicize the Cloverdale Plantation Site. The garden plot is 24 feet by 24 feet and is enclosed on three sides with a gothic picket fence and on the fourth side by an existing hedge from the time of Cloverdale. The garden includes four mounded garden beds at each corner and a center mounded bed with a sundial installed. All the small trees selected for the garden are native to Virginia and the beds are planted with herbs and plants typically grown in colonial kitchen gardens. The garden will also serve as a Virginia Native Plant nursery.
The project was funded through donations and CAR activities. One effort that has been used is the sale of commemorative pavers which was used in the garden walkways (contact Andrea Turner). The CAR held a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 3, 2012. The NASA ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 21st.
[top] Photo Gallery
[top] Interpretive Colonial-Style Kitchen Garden
[top] Aster, Blue woodland - Aster cordifolius
The Blue woodland Aster plant thrives best under limited sunlight and rich, moist soil. Asters are for stubborn, shady areas of the yard, where you may have thought impossible for plants to succeed. This Aster has blue to purple ray flowers, the color does vary and sometimes they are almost white. The Blue Wood Aster disc is yellow and fades to red later into Fall. Aster flowers bloom late summer in to the fall season giving the garden the last bit of color before the ground freezes over for winter.
Native American tribes This burned Blue woodland Asters to create a smoke that was used for an aromatic nervine to draw in animals, especially deer. It is very possible that early Americans caught on to this technique as well, but there are no records confirming of such actions.
[top] Aster, Woodland - Aster divaricatus
Woodland Asters grow under the same conditions as the Blue woodland Aster. This beautiful, black-stemmed white flower is a nectar plant for butterflies and other pollinators as well as a seed source for songbirds during early fall. The flashy, easy-to-spot black stems provide nesting material for birds. The leaves of Asters are food for butterfly/moth larva all gardening season long.
Asters were used by Native Americans, long ago, to revive the unconscious after spiritual ceremonies. This plant was also used to treat mental illness, nosebleeds, headaches, congestion, for smudging and as an additive to Kinnickkinnick smoking mixtures. The dried blossoms were also snuffed for similar purposes. Aster tea was used to treat earache, relieve gas pains, stomach aches, and fevers.
Astilbe plants are unique due to the fact that they provide vibrant color without the need of full time sunlight. This plant grows best in a shady area and moist soil conditions. Astilbe have been bred for over a hundred years, causing a range in color from anything between white to deep plum. The feathery flowers bloom from early to late summer. Astilbe is a beautiful, fragrant flowering plant that is resistant to deer and attracts multiple species of butterflies to the garden.
Astilbe is originally from Europe and Asia purposed for fresh cut flowers. Due to the beauty of this plant, Astilbe was introduced to North America by early American colonialists.
[top] Birdsfoot violet - Viola pedata
Birdsfoot violet blooms showy flowers from March to May. They do best in full sunlight and prefer to accept low to medium amounts of water. It is considered to be one of the hardest violets to grow. They do not spread by the use of pollinators, although this plant does attract butterflies. Viola pedata have the capability of spread through self-seeding; only in optimal growing conditions. Bagging the seedheads is another option for future planting with this specific violet.
The Cherokee tribe used plant leaves as a poultice for headaches, infusion taken for dysentery, infusion taken for blood, infusion taken for colds, sweetened infusion taken for coughs, poultice of crushed roots were applied to boils, infusion sprayed up nose to relieve catarrh, and infusion taken as spring tonic. The leaves are edible; being mucilaginous, they cook into a sort of gravy and were eaten by many Native American tribes. Viola pedata was also used as an insecticide; infusions of roots were used to soak corn seeds prior to planting to prevent bugs destroying corn crops.
[top] Black-eyed Susan - Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan is considered to be a biennial plant. The first year, the plant only displays leaves that stick low to the ground. The second year is when the cone-like flowers appear. The Black-eyed Susan plant is very competitive and must be controlled for the sakes of other plants in the garden. The flowers bloom from early summer to mid fall, attracting insects and birds of all kinds.
The Black-eyed Susan plant is diuretic and was used by the Menominee and Potawatomi tribes. Native Americans used Black-eyed Susan as a poultice for snake bites and to make an infusion for treating colds and worms in children. Juice from the roots had been used as drops for relieving earache pains.
[top] Blackberry Lily - Iris domestica
The Blackberry Lilly is native from China and Japan, but has acclimated well in the eastern part of North America. The first sign of life begins with a light yellow flower. Around mid-summer the Blackberry Lilly blooms attractive Orange, red leopard-spotted flowers. Then, in the fall, the plant fosters a blackberry that contains the plant’s seeds. This Iris does not have any uses of value, besides being a beautiful showy flower in the garden.
[top] Blazing Star, Button - Liatris aspera
This plant is a great way to attract visitors such as butterflies and hummingbirds. Butterflies frequent visit Liatris that which it provides nectar for them. The butterfly list includes: tiger swallowtail, clouded sulphur, orange sulphur, gray hairstreak, aphrodite fritillary, painted lady, red admiral, wood nymph.
Liatris plants are great for soil stabilization to reduce problematic erosion.
[top] Blazing Star, Tall - Liatris spicata
Blazing star is a native North American perennial plant; made up of blue-purple florets and grows straight like grass. Flowers appear from late summer to September.
This unique plant has been used by Native Americans for a gargle of sore throat, remedy for gonorrhea, snakebite, wounds, and insect bites.
[top] Blue Wild Indigo - Baptisia australi
False Indigo is a perennial in the pea family and has a hard time competing with other plants in a naturalistic setting. It is well known in gardens due to its attractive pea-like, deep blue flowers that emerge on spikes in the late spring and early summer. The flowers of this plant does not provide a fragrance.
Several American Indian tribes made use of the plant for a variety of purposes. The Cherokees used it as a source of blue dye, a practice later copied by European settlers. They also would use the roots in teas as a purgative or to treat tooth aches and nausea, while the Osage made eyewash with the plant.
[top] Borage - Borago officinalis
The Borage plant blooms showy star-like blue flowers. Borage is an edible plant, and is suggested to eat the plant at it's early stages to avoid the white prickly fuzz that develops later in the plant's life that covers both the leaves and the flowers of the plant.
Colonists used Borage as either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb. As a fresh vegetable, Borage, with a cucumber like taste, is often used in salads or as a garnish. The flower has a sweet honey-like taste and, as one of the few truly blue-colored edible things, is often used to decorate dessert.
Borage is used in companion planting. It is said to protect or nurse legumes, spinach, brassicas and even strawberries. It is also said to be a good companion plant to tomatoes because it confuses the search image of the mother moths of tomato hornworms or manduca looking for a place to lay their eggs.
[top] Butterfly weed - Asclepias tuberosa
This plant is called butterfly-weed because of its attraction for butterflies, this vividly colored wildflower has earned many common names, indicating both its common occurrence and wide distribution. Butterfly-weed attracts many different butterflies, especially monarchs and viceroys whose orange and black colors complement the flowers. Although they also draw many other insects, the flowers are pollinated only by wasps that are adapted to butterfly-weed's intricate flower structure, and some element of luck is also needed.
The seed pods are edible if they are cooked when young, harvested before the seed floss forms. Harvest flowers in bloom, also edible when cooked; having a similar taste as sweet peas. Leaves and new buds are edible cooked like spinach. Harvest root in fall and dry for later herb use such as tea.
[top] Cardinal flower - Lobelia cardinalis
The specific name, cardinalis, comes from a pre-Linnaean name for the genus, which means "of the Cardinal," because the color and shape suggested a Roman Catholic Cardinal's miter and robes; hence, also the common name, cardinal-flower. Cardinal-flower is among Virginia's most stunning native plants. The color of the flowers, one of the richest reds in nature, their unusual form, and their appearance in cool riparian habitats where their color is as unexpected as it is brilliant contribute to their startling impact. The vibrant red flowers bloom from July to August. Cardinal flower grow in most areas under sunny or partially sunny conditions. This plant attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
The Iroquois Indians boiled the roots together with chicory root and used the liquid to treat fever. They also mashed the roots, stems, leaves and flowers together to treat cramps.The Pawnee Indians used the Cardinal flower as a love charm.
[top] Christmas fern - Polysticum acrostichoides
This evergreen fern is native to eastern North America from Nova Scotia, west to Minnesota, and south to eastern Texas and Florida. It is one of the most common ferns and can be found in a wide variety of habitats and locations. The fronds can reach 1-3 feet in length and are semi-erect. The fronds are lance-shaped, ending in a point. The robust, leathery leaves can withstand light frosts before flattening to the ground.
East to grow, this fern is popular as an ornamental in gardens and natural landscaping. It can also serve as a soil conservation and sediment erosion control on slopes.
The plant is still used today for decorations, particularly in winter. The young fronds, or fiddleheads, were probably used in colonial times as a source of food.
The fern was known by several Native American tribes to treat a variety of ailments. A tea from the roots served as a blood purifier are well as treatment from chills, fevers, pneumonia, stomach and bowel complaints, and rheumatism. Rheumatism was also treated by a poultice of the root or a decoction of the root massaged into the joints.
[top] Comfrey - Symphytum officinale
Comfrey is a perennial herb that seeks soil that is rich in nitrogen. The leaves of Comfrey break down to a thick black liquid making the surrounding soil high in organics. Nonetheless, Comfrey acts as an excellent fertilizer for the surrounding plants.This plant develops bell-like flowers that come in a variety of colors; cream, purple, blue, pink. Although Comfrey doesn't grow vertically much, under optimal growing conditions, this plant will vastly spread out, if allowed.
Comfrey has a long history of medicinal uses. This plant is native to Europe and Asia and was brought here by the early settlers because it is one of the best known healing herbs. Documented proof indicates that it was used to cure the injured soldiers of Alexander the Great's armies. Comfrey has been known to stop heavy bleeding, treat bronchial problems, and heal wounds and broken bones. Poultices were made for external wounds and tea was consumed for internal ailments.
Recent studies show that the consumption of Comfrey contribute to liver damage and should only be externally used (no open wounds).
[top] Costmary - Chrysanthemum balsamita
This is a delightfully sweet smelling perennial herb that has many uses. In medieval times it was a strewing herb to cover odors, as well as a flavoring for ale (it was also known as Alecost because of this). Later, in Colonial times, costmary leaves were used as bookmarks, mostly in Bibles and hymnals, giving it another name; Bible leaf. It seems that during long church services the parishioners would take a refreshing whiff or sometimes chew on the leaf.
In the past, Costmary has been used medicinally; curing “evil, weak, and cold livers,” and “stoppings” of the brain. It has been used to bring on delayed menstrual periods; if you are pregnant avoidance was suggested. Uses today, are more likely to use the leaves to scent a relaxing bath or to dry them for use in potpourri. Also, try using the fresh, young leaves in iced tea and in green or fruit salads and coleslaw. Add some shredded leaves to soups and cream sauces, too. Cover fish with a whole large leaf before baking it, or place one in the bottom of a cake tin before pouring in the batter.
[top] Dogwood tree - Cornus florida
The Dogwood tree first buds yellow-greenish flowers in the early spring and then develop the actual Dogwood flower late April, early June; which range from white to pink in color.
The colonists used dried, ground bark as a quinine substitute for treating fevers. A bark decoction was used to treat mouth problems, and the fibrous twigs were used as chewing sticks, said to whiten teeth. Tea made of boiled inner bark was used to reduce fevers; during Civil War dogwood bark was used as substitute for quinine. Native Americans used the roots to make a scarlet dye for coloring porcupine quills and eagle feathers. The bark also yields a red dye. William Byrd II considered the bark a preventative against malaria.
"... There is a variety of it with a rose-coloured involucre, which was found wild in Virginia by Banister, and afterwards by Catesby ..." Phillip Miller. Cornus florida is the state tree of Virginia, but the Dogwood flower is the state flower of North Carolina.
[top] Doll’s Daisy - Boltonia asteroides
Boltonias make good cut flowers and attract butterflies to the garden. Many Boltonia species are endangered and need to be planted by more gardeners. Boltonia is a delightful flowering plant for casual garden settings. It can take some shade, needs minimal water, and blooms late summer to fall, shaking off humid nights like the native it is.
[top] Eastern Red Columbine - Aquilegia canadensis
This beautiful woodland wildflower has showy, drooping, bell-like flowers equipped with distinctly backward-pointing tubes, similar to the garden Columbines. These tubes, or spurs, contain nectar that attracts long-tongued insects and hummingbirds especially adapted for reaching the sweet secretion.
It is reported that Native Americans rubbed the crushed seeds on the hands of men as a love charm.
[top] Feverfew - Chrysanthemum parthenium
Small white, yellow-disc flowers bloom from summer until mid-fall. Growing feverfews in the rose garden will attract aphids away from the rose bushes.
Native Americans and Colonialists both appreciated Feverfew for having had many medicinal uses; relief of migraine, helps prevent blood clots, as an anti-inflammatory for relief of arthritis, to relieve some types of menstrual problems, and as a digestive aid. Leaves and flowers act as a good moth deterrent. Now, Feverfew make nice cut flowers for bouquets.
[top] Flax - Linum usitatissimum
Flax is a self-pollinating plant. The pale blue flowers that Flax grows develop tiny capsules or bolls that typically house 6-10 seeds each. The entire Flax plant has been useful in various ways for thousands of years. Recent studies have suggested that it is a healthy source of food because of the high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids that it contains.
Flax was one of the most important crops to early American farmers and was used in making cloth. Before the spread of the mechanical cotton gin in the early 1800s, most Americans had a choice of two clothing fibers – wool or linen. Even after the advent of inexpensive cotton, linen fiber from the stems of flax would remain an important source of fiber for clothes and other products. Flax cloth is more durable than cotton but far less flexible than cotton cloth. Various parts of the plant have been used to make dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soaps too.
[top] Forget-Me-Nots - Myosotis
Forget-Me-Nots have small (1.5’’) blue flowers with yellow discs and generally have a bloom time from May to September. This plant is a wildflower and has a wide spread root system that exceed in moist soils, specifically near streams and ponds. Although this plant does not have any values of significance, this plant is oftentimes used as a symbol of remembrance, hence the name, Forget-Me-Nots.
[top] Fringe Tree - Chionanthus virginicus
The berries of this native are attractive to wildlife. Twigs and foliage are browsed and used by many animals. The primary attraction of this 15-30 ft., deciduous tree or shrub is the drooping clusters of fragrant, white blossoms. Dark-blue, grape-like clusters of fruits are produced from female blossoms.
Native Americans used Fringe tree bark as a poultice for healing wounds. Colonists used dried Fringe tree roots to treat the liver and for gall bladder disease. Also, early Americans often mixed the dried roots with herbs containing Berberine, like Goldenseal and Barberry to increase gastric secretion and to increase appetite and digestion.
[top] Goat's Beard - Aruncus dioicus
This woodland perennial expects partial sun exposure and moist soil. From late spring to mid summer, the cream colored flowers bloom from Goat's Beard plants. The tan to brown seeds that this plant produces after the flowers pass are poisonous and should be avoided.
Native Americans used the roots of Goat's Beard as a poultice for bee stings. The root was also used to make a tea to soak painful, swollen feet.
[top] Giant Sunflower - Helianthas gigatieus
In despite of its name, this plant species does not produce very large flowers, but the plant does grow to be very tall. Giant Sunflower plants can grow to be 12 feet tall and it is not unusual to see the plant knocked to the ground because of this. The Sunflower attracts bees, butterflies and birds. Also, slugs are very attracted to new young Giant Sunflower plants and can seriously damage the plant. This plant must have optimal sunlight and moist soil in order to succeed. Sunflowers in whole have long root systems that are unique and are a huge benefit to the environment.
Relatively, recent studies have found that Sunflowers' roots are able to absorb toxic metals such as arsenic, zinc, lead, uranium, strontium-90,and many more, from the ground and water. This process is called phytoremediation. Sunflowers were used in the clean-up process in 1986, after the tragic accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Early American settlers used the sunflower to treat colds, asthma, sore throats, bronchitis, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. They also planted sunflowers near their homes to ward off malaria. This might have been helpful because the sunflower can soak up great quantities of water, and mosquitoes live and breed in wet areas. Native American Indians roasted and ground sunflower seeds into a fine meal. Ground seeds were boiled and an oil was extracted, which was used for cooking and hair treatment. They also made a beverage similar to coffee from the hulls. and dye from the hulls and petals.
The entire Giant Sunflower plant; roots, stem, leaves, flowers, and seeds all have uses. The seeds are eaten by people, birds, and livestock and provide all three with great nutritional value. Today uses of the sunflower involve; seed oil used in making fuel (bio-diesel), cooking oil, soap, lubricant, and candles.
[top] Goldenrod, Gray - Solidago nemoralis
This bright yellow flowering perennial is considered a weed to some, but most gardeners find the wildflower beautiful and an easy plant for upkeep. This plant prefers and abundance of sun and dry soil. If the soil is too rich, that plant could be short lived.
Thomas Edison experimented with the goldrenrod plant and was able to yield rubber from the plant leaves. The Model T by Henry ford used Goldenrod plant leaves in the making of the tires.
[top] Goldenrod, Anise-scented - Solidago odara
The crushed leaves of sweet anise give off a licorice scent that readily identifies this widespread species. Much like Gray Goldenrod, dry, slightly poor soil is best for this plant. A tea can be brewed from its leaves. This plant attracts bees and butterflies and birds.
[top] Indian Pink - Spigelia Mariladica
In May, spectacular flowers appear. The tubular upright flowers are bright red with a yellow five-point center.
This plant’s roots are anthelmintic and narcotic that which allow many medicinal uses possible but must be taken under professional supervision only due to the fact that slight over dosage can potentially cause horrible side effects including fatality. Indian Pink is exceptional at curing tapeworms and roundworm.
Native Americans would make a tea from this plant to cure worms.
[top] Joe-pye weed - Eutrochium fistulosum
Tiny clusters of feathery, pinkish-purple flowers bloom from mid July to September. Joe-pye weed do well with full to partial sunlight in moist soil.
The name entered the lexicon as a calque of the Indian word "jopi,“ which meant typhoid; the jopiweed was in widespread use by Native Americans as a medicinal to treat a variety of ailments. When the colonists learned of its use from the Indians as jopiweed, it became Joe-Pye Weed. Joe-Pye weed was employed by Native Americans in applications ranging from practical to superstitious. It was used by many tribes in the form of a tea made from the leaves that was a diaphoretic medicine in the abatement of typhoid fever.
[top] Lady’s Bedstraw - Galium verum
Lady's Bedstraw is a low to the ground sprawling plant. Tiny yellow clusters of flowers bloom sporadically from mid summer to mid fall. This plant provides a sweet smelling scent much like vanilla or clover.
The colonists used the dried plants to stuff mattresses, as the coumarin scent of the plants acts as a flea killer. The flowers were also used to coagulate milk in cheese manufacture and, in Gloucestershire, to color the cheese Double Gloucester. The plant was also used to make red madder-like dye from the roots of Lady's Bedstraw and yellow dye from the flowers.
[top] Lamb's Ear - Stachys byzantina
Lamb's Ear foliage is a dull green due to the fact the plant is covered in soft white silk like fibers. Lamb's ear blossoms light pink flowers in the late spring and early summer. This plant has use and an easier plant to upkeep. It is easy to grow, preferring partial sunlight and well-drained soils.
The historical use of Lamb's ear, used by Colonists and Native Americans, has been a bandage for wounds. The soft leaves of Lamb's ear stops bleeding and helps reduce the risk of developing an infectious wound.
[top] Marsh Mallow - Althaea officinalis
This herb has been used for more than 2,000 years as both a food and a medicine. The Romans, Chinese, Egyptians, and Syrians used marshmallow as a source of food, while the Arabs made poultices from its leaves and applied them to the skin to reduce inflammation. Both the root and leaves contain a gummy substance called mucilage. When mixed with water, it forms a slick gel that is used to coat the throat and stomach when consumed to reduce irritation. It is also applied topically to soothe chapped skin. One recent scientific study confirmed that marshmallow preparations help soothe irritated mucous membranes: Asthma, Bronchitis, Sore throat, Cough, Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, Indigestion, Stomach ulcers, Skin inflammation. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.
Early American colonialists introduced Marsh Mallow to North America because it is such a useful plant for survival.
[top] Mayapple - Podophyllum peltatum
Mayapple plants typically produce 1-3 leaves; each leaf has a range from 5-9 lobes. This plant does develop a flower and a fruit. A flower only grows when there are at least two leaves conjoined. The white 6-9 petaled flower with a yellow center produce at the axles of the two stems, underneath the umbrella like leaves. The floral-scented flower lasts about 3 weeks. If the Mayapple flower undergoes cross-pollination; then a fruit berry replaces the flower.
Some Native Americans used the plant in love charms, other used it in protection charms. First Native American Indians, then early American settlers made an infusion of the plant that was sprayed on plants to kill insects. The chemical podophyllotoxin found in Mayapple has been established to have insecticidal properties.
"And shrieks like mandrakes, torn out of the earth, that living mortals, hearing them, run mad." -Romeo and Juliet, 4:3
[top] Pawpaw tree - Asimina triloba
A Pawpaw tree produces unmistakable, 6-petaled purplish brown flowers in mid-April before the large, tropical leaves form. Once the flowers have had their time; large, cylindrical, dark-green or yellow, edible fruit follow.
Native Americans and colonists have long used the fruit as food. Native Americans used the fruit fresh and made it into cakes and sauces, or dried and used it as winter food. The flowers and fruit attract birds and butterflies.
[top] Purple Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower is a perennial herb that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. The flowers, depending on climate blossom the flowers early June, late May and last for nearly the entire summer. The Purple Coneflower plant prefers full to partial sun and moist, fertile loam, although is somewhat drought resistant.
The flowers of Echinacea species are used to make an extremely popular herbal tea, purposed to help strengthen the immune system. To many Native American tribes the Purple Coneflower herb was used as a "cure all". Echinacea purpurea was widely used by the North American Plains Indians for its general medicinal qualities. Although Native American tribes didn't use echinacea to prevent the common cold, some Plains tribes did use Echinacea to treat some of the symptoms that could be caused by the common cold: The Kiowa used it for coughs and sore throats, the Cheyenne for sore throats, the Pawnee for headaches, and many tribes including the Lakotah used it as an analgesic. Native Americans were taught the uses of Echinacea purpurea through the observation of elk seeking out the Purple Coneflower and consuming them when sick or wounded.
[top] Queen Anne’s Lace - Daucus carota
This plant is biennial, meaning that it has the lifespan of two years. The first year it grows and the second year it blooms tiny and white, blooming in lacy, flat-topped clusters. The fruits of Queen Anne’s Lace is spiky and bird nest shaped that quickly replaces the white lacy flower. The flowers usually bloom from June to August.
Queen Anne's Lace is a great weed plant that is beneficial in aiding to the growth of tomato and lettuce plants in the vegetable garden. It creates a microclimate of cooler, moister air.
Carrots, the delicious vegetable that are commonly eaten today were once cultivated from this plant’s taproot used by the early colonialist.
[top] Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen perennial shrub, having needles similar to a pine needle. Rosemary belongs to the Lamiaceae, or mint family. Rosemary does not have a specific way of growing or a certain time the flowers bloom. The shrub can grow either upwards or spread outwards and produces flowers that are purplish, white and strongly two-lipped that have two long stamens that exceed past the petals. The fruit consists of four dry nutlets.
This herb needs optimal sunlight and fairly dry soil. This plants origin is from the Mediterranean; it's used to long periods of drought and just getting by on the humidity in the air.
This herb has several culinary uses, medicinal, perfumery and cosmetics usages. Native American Indians used Rosemary to reduce the act of baldness. The herb has a bitter, astringent taste which complements fatty foods such as oily fish and lamb. Colonialists also used Rosemary as a way of remembrance. William Shakespeare’s Ophelia refers to Rosemary saying, “That’s for remembrance.”
Research has shown that rosmarinic acid, one of the main constituents of rosemary, inhibits certain enzymes linked to neurological disorders causing memory loss.
[top] Solomon’s Seal - Polygonatum commutatum
Solomon's Seal is an architectural kind of perennial. Nodding, greenish-white, tubular flowers hang in pairs from the axils of the oval, having conspicuously veined leaves. Hanging from the leaf axils on an arching stem are a few (often 2) greenish-white, bell-like flowers in the early summer, late spring time. Solomon's Seal is normally seen in the woods near a stream. That is due to the fact that this plant will not survive in dry soil. A dark blue berry replaces the dropping bell-like flower in the early fall. The seeds that the are housed by the fruit are said to be poisonous, and are suggested against consumption.
In the past, a decoction of the Solomon's Seal root has been used as a herbal steam inhalant as a treatment for headaches. The roots are also a favorite source of food of mammals. Although poisonous for humans, the fruit attracts birds.
Native Americans and colonists used the starchy rhizomes as food. Dried and ground Solomon's Seal rhizomes have been used to thicken soups and as an aid to make breads and cakes. Also, American Indians and colonialists would burn the root of Solomon's Seal for the pleasant fragrance.
[top] Southern Stonecrop - Sedum Nevii
Sedums do best in full sunlight but can withstand shaded areas and enjoy moist, moderately fertile soil. It forms a low carpet of thick leaves of silvery-grey color that become burnished with bronze during the summer, ranging from smoky blue to deep burgundy. Ground coverage is great for limiting unwanted erosion. In the early spring, Southern Stoncrop produce tiny, white, star-like flowers that attract butterflies and beneficial insects to the garden. Sedums are also deer resistant.
[top] Soapwort - Saponaria officinalis
Soapwort produces pale pink, almost white looking flowers late spring to early summer. This plant has a tendency to become invasive and will very easily take over the garden.
Soapwort is a common, perennial plant from the carnation family. The scientific name, “Saponaria” is derived from the Latin “sapo” meaning soap. This refers to the cleaning property of the leaves when vigorously rubbed together when in contact with water. The colonists used it as a gentle, wool wash for many years. This plant can still be used today to wash delicate fabrics in a natural and economical manner.
[top] Society Garlic - Tulbaghia violacea
Society garlic produces beautiful lavender-pink flowers, that do not have the scent of garlic like the rest of the plant does, from mid summer to early fall. This plant grows well under sunny, dry soil conditions. Society garlic is an attractive ornamental plant from South Africa whose leaves have a garlicky odor. It belongs to the lily family — as do onions and garlic — but to a different genus, entirely restricted to Africa, which includes about 24 species. The generally accepted origin of the name is from a belief that society garlic could be eaten without producing the unfortunate side-effect of bad breath. As such it was considered a form of garlic that was acceptable in "polite society" and was often used to flavor soups or as a garnish.
Is it really edible? Despite the tradition of eating society garlic, many modern nutritionists advise against consumption. Although usually said to be edible it needs to be treated with care and has been reported to cause stomach problems for some people.
[top] Spice Bush - Lindera benzoin
Tiny clusters of yellow-green buds start off in the early spring. Then the glossy green foliage follows, soon after during the late fall the Spice Bush forms a glossy red fruit.
Native American Indians made a tea from the bark of Lindera benzoin as a “blood purifier” and for sweating, colds, rheumatism and anemia. Settlers used a twig tea to treat colds, fevers, worms, gas and colic and bark tea to expel worms, for typhoid fevers and a diaphoretic for other fevers. Stem bark extract strongly inhibits the growth of Candida albicans, a yeast organism normally found in the mouth, vagina and anus but which can grow out of control with a change in environment. The berries were used by the American Indians to make a tea for coughs, cramps, delayed menses, croup and measles and by the settlers to prevent gas and flatulence and colic. Fruit oil was applied to treat chronic rheumatism, bruises, muscles and joints.
[top] Spiderwort - Tradescantia virginiana
Spiderworts are so named because the angular leaf arrangement suggests a squatting spider. The purple flowers bloom sporadically from early spring to midsummer. The flowers of a Spiderwort only bloom for a day and the buds on the plant take turns on blooming. When the flowers do bloom they are a glowing blue-purple color with three pedals and yellow stamen in the center. The flowers occasionally attract butterflies. Leaves may cause minor skin irritation if touched. Spiderworts prefer partial sunlight and moist soil.
Native Americans used the leaves to extract tea; used in helping kidney, stomach and female ailments. A poultice was made from mashing the leaves together and spread over insects bites, stings, and cancers. Spiderwort also was used along with herbs to make a gummy substance. This gum was used to cure the "crazies" by making an incision to the head, and spreading the gum into the wound.
[top] Spotted Beebalm - Monarda punctata
Spotted Beebalm grows best in damp soil and partial sunlight. If the soil is too dry; Spotted Beebalm has been known to develop mildew that which destroys the plant. Small, pale yellow flowers are spotted with purple, and rest above colorful palettes of soft pink leaves. The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees, Miner bees and Plasterer bees; butterflies also visit the flowers of Spotted Bee Balm for nectar, including the endangered Lycaenides melissa samuelis (Karner Blue), which is found in sandy habitats. Insects that feed on the flowers, foliage or stems of Spotted Bee Balm include the caterpillars of the moths. Spotted Beebalm is deer resistant; the oregano-scented foliage is repugnant to mammalian herbivores and rarely consumed by them.
Native Americans, as well as colonialists made use of Monarda's essential healing oils, and spotted bee balm (Monarda punctata) is said to relieve coughs, colds, fevers and minor digestive complaints.
[top] Summer Phlox - Phlox paniculata
Summer Phlox is a perennial that can last up to a decade if taken care properly. This is a great plant for the garden; it is hardy and long lived. Summer Phlox come in a variety of colors, due to the fact that the offspring almost always differ in color from the parent plant. Pink, salmon, magenta, white, lavender, and even red will light up your garden.
Wildlife Benefit of Summer Phlox is that is provides Butterfly Nectar; hence, the flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds and make nice, cut flowers all summer long.
[top] Sweet Woodruff - Galium odoratum
Sweet Woodruff is an excellent ground cover in shady areas. This herb has a light, pleasant fragrance with its tiny 4-petaled white flowers blooming from May through June. When the herb is collected and dried, the fragrance becomes stronger.
Galium odoratum has been used in past times as a poultice to heal colonists' wounds. This plant is not native to North America, but was brought by early American settlers as a multipurpose herb. It was used as a pest repellent for linens and to also make them smell fresh.
[top] Tansey - Tanacetum camphoratum
The Tansey is in the Thistle family and is a plant that does not seek much attention. The yellow flowers bloom from late June to towards the end of August. Tansy has also been cultivated and used for its insect repellent and preservative effects. It has been used for centuries as an insect and 'in the worm warding' type of embalming.
In colonial times, it was packed into coffins, wrapped in funeral winding sheets, and tansy wreaths were sometimes placed on the dead. Tansy was used to treat intestinal worms, rheumatism, digestive problems, fevers, sores, and to “bring out” measles. Tansy was used as a face wash and was reported to lighten and purify the skin. In The colonists placed tansy on window sills to repel flies; sprigs were placed in bed linen to drive away pests, and it has been used as an ant repellent.
[top] Whorled-Leaf Coreopsis - Coreopsis
Coreopsis are woodland, wildflowers that are tolerant to nearly any conditions. This is a great plant for new gardeners to add to a new garden, it is also deer resistant. The seeds of this beautiful native plant are enjoyed by many birds.. The bright, yellow flowers attract butterflies and birds making this plant ideal for the garden. Whorled-Leaf Coreopsis make great cut flowers blooming from midsummer to early fall.
[top] Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense
Wild ginger is a spring wildflower that makes a lovely groundcover with its satiny, heart-shaped leaves. Pollinated by ants, its unique purplish brown flowers appear beneath the leaves in spring. Flowers are quite attractive on close inspection, but are usually hidden from view by the foliage. The leaves of Asarum have a spicy fragrance when crushed, but shouldn't be eaten. The roots are edible and can be used as a flavoring like ginger.
Native Americans and European settlers used this wild ginger to treat sore throats and for the ginger-like flavor of its roots for food flavoring. The root is typically harvested in autumn but is available all year round. The slightly roasted root was ground into a powder by colonialists and Native Americans and then sprinkled onto clothing for perfume.
[top] Witch Hazel - Hamamelis virginiana
Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub, sometimes can be considered a small tree. A four petal flower blooms, color ranging from light yellow to orange, and sometimes even red. Around 8 months after the flower stage in the fall, a glossy black fruit forms. When the black capsule has hits maturity it explodes, shooting the seeds up to 10 meters away from the Witch Hazel.
The Native Americans used the inner bark for sore eyes and inflammations. American settlers used the twigs for water divining like those of the European hazel were used in England. This was called “witching a well.”
[top] Wormwood - Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood can grow in dry soil, but like most plants, will do well in moist, fertile, specifically high in Nitrogen soil. Wormwood is used as a companion plant to suppress overwhelming weeds.
The colonists used wormwood in the same way that the Egyptians used it in 1600 B.C., to rid the body of worms. According to legend, wormwood grew up in the trail left by the serpent’s tail as it slithered out of the Garden of Eden. Wormwood is one of the bitter herbs of the Bible. The bitter herb has long been used as an effective, insect repellent.
Planting Wormwood at the entrances of your home will help reduce the amount of moths and fleas that enter the house.
[top] Yellow Fumewort - Corydalis flavula
Yellow Fumewort is a native woodland herbaceous annual. Yellow Corydalis are oftentimes found on the moist, rocky slopes. From April to May, this plant has a two pedaled flower that has an extended stigma. This Corydalis is distinguishable by its complete yellow color(petals and stigma). The fruit that follow during the fall are shaped like small pods.
Recent studies have found Corydalis flavula having a high content of alkaloids. Ultimately making this plant great for multiple medicinal uses. Native Americans placed the root on coals and inhaled the smoke to "clear the head". Early American settlers used the bitter, astringent root to stop bleeding, for irregular menses, pain, diarrhea and dysentery.
[top] Yorktown Onion - Allium ampeloprasum
This entire plant; stem and flower give off an onion scent. The Yorktown Onion preferably grow in sandy, coastal soil but are able to grow just fine inland. The Yorktown Onion is a rather gangly plant that blooms a purple flower. This plant can reach a height of 3 feet and the flower grows to about 3 inches.
These onions are also known as wild onions, giant wild garlic and wild leeks. The Yorktown onion is not native to this country. Its native range is S. Europe to W. Asia, and seems to have been introduced to Britain by prehistoric people, where its habitat consists of rocky places near the coast in south-west England and Wales. Our plant probably made its way to the New World, like many other plants, by accident. Legend has it that the seeds came here during the Revolutionary War mixed with crop seeds or fodder. Regardless of how it got here, it became firmly established as a wild plant in what is now York County.
Today, it is illegal to collect and harvest the Yorktown Onion.
[top] What's the big buzz on native plants??
American living is more hectic than ever. Impermeable surfaces (roads and parking lots) are being added each year to keep up with the busy American lifestyles, in the end, creating less time and space available for gardening and intensifying the community’s water pollution problems. Native plant gardens have been and will continue to be genuine to today and tomorrows American gardening society. Native plants do not require much care once established and act as buffers to local rivers and streams. They are usually found growing resilient along roadsides and meadows so just envision how well they could do in your backyard!
The Chesapeake Bay Program supports the use of native plants and provides excellent reasoning, “They’ve always grown here, and so native plants are adapted to our soil, climate and pests. This means they don’t need to be watered, fertilized or sprayed with insecticides like non-native plants that are imported from other parts of the world. Native plants provide the best source of food (seeds, berries and nectar) for bees, birds, butterflies and other wildlife because these plants and animals evolved together. You’ll likely attract more honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your yard if you plant native species.” The interpretive Colonial-style kitchen garden is predominantly composed of diverse native plants that have been thriving and adapting to Virginia’s climate for thousands of years. Residents of Virginia should seriously consider plants of this website for their own backyards in support of the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Switch out stubborn grass for native Virginian plants. Now, more than ever, people are having difficulty in lawn care. Home owners have been relying too heavily on the addition of fertilizers and insecticides to attain the neighborhood’s best looking lawn. The Chesapeake Bay Program stresses the reduction of such actions because one of their biggest issues is dealing with stormwater runoff contaminating local rivers, streams, and even the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, 17 percent of phosphorus, 11 percent nitrogen and 9 percent of sediment loads enter the Bay from stormwater runoff.  Lawn fertilizing is a significant contributor to Bay pollution considering prime components of fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. The Lebanon Seaboard Corporation, supporters of the Chesapeake Bay Program, is an eco-friendlier manufacturer of Greenview lawn and garden Fertilizers. They educate their customers about the N-P-K label on bags of fertilizers. A lawn fertilizer bag of 30lbs labeled 24-2-8 would amount to a third of the bag being potential pollutants of the Bay. “To comprehend how much of each nutrient is being applied to your lawn, you multiply the weight of the fertilizer bag by the percentage of each nutrient. For example, a 30 lb. bag of fertilizer rated 24-2-8 has:
Nitrogen: 24% x 30 lbs = 7.2 lbs. Nitrogen
Phosphorous: 2% x 30 lbs = 0.6 lbs. available Phosphate
Potassium: 8% x 30 lbs = 2.4 lbs. soluble Potash “
Another issue that is addressed by the Environmental Protection Agency is the amount of water being used for irrigational purposes. A typical suburban lawn consumes 10,000 gallons of water above annual rainfall per year . Certainly, a change is needed considering only 1 percent of Earth’s water is suitable for human consumption. Lawns should be replaced by plants. Gardens should be made of native plants so that they can survive on rainfall once the plants have become established. Rob Proctor, a brilliant American gardener who has been running a gardening segment on Denver's NBC local morning news for 10 years shares some thoughts, “Less is better. There is a place for lawn—for walking on, for pets. But it seems that all we do is maintain lawns to make them look exactly the same. That's boring. A good strategy for gradually shifting away from too much lawn is to re-edge your beds, making them 6 inches wider each year. My lawns are strictly utilitarian, as paths and frames for the garden beds. One way to make a lawn more interesting is to plant crocus in some areas. Besides making your lawn more beautiful in spring, it will discourage you from using weed killer.”
If you are a grass lover and could not imagine total replacement, there are a number of plants on this site that serve as natural fertilizers and insecticides that can boost the health of your grass, without creating polluted stormwater runoff. With the addition of Spotted Beebalm, Mayapple, or Wormwood you can drastically reduce the need of fertilization and spraying insecticides.
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Contributors: Meagan and Mitchell Turner, CAR; Alicia Lazore, Rochester Institute of Technology