Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Alternatives to Invasive

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,, Invasive Barberry,DEC Label

Hello Fellow Readers,

When I began as a designer I thought barberry overtaking forest floors was native which is not the case. The maroon leaf Japanese Barberry, Berberis thunbergii, has been overused in deer populated areas for years; though it’s understandable why their popularity. They’re tough, their deep red foliage offers a lovely contrast in the garden, and deer don’t eat them. Their slender red berries linger long after the leaves drop which are prized for their ornamental value. Leaves of Berberis thunbergii turn green in shade which is why the invasive bully is not as obvious to identify in the woodland areas. While barberry is not yet banned here, using it in garden designs nowadays feels irresponsible. New York banned their sale or transport “except the straight ‘Aurea’ variety” (Berberis thunbergii ‘Aurea’ which is lime green), according to Ben Jansen of Jansen’s Nursery in Florida, NY.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,, Invasive Barberry

Invasive Barberry taking over forest floors stays green in shade.

Barberry is likely the most popular plant on the NY Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) 2014 list of banned invasive species. Ben went on to explain Miscanthus sinensis, known as Maiden Grass, was also on the list but now is only regulated and is still available as long as the DEC label is on the plant. The bold face label is intimidating declaring the plant as an “Invasive Species – Harmful to the Environment.” Then lists non-harmful alternatives such as Feather Read Grass (Calamagrostis), Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum). The label advises “Do not plant near wild or natural areas. Deadhead or remove seed debris. Do not share seeds, seedlings, or cuttings with other gardeners.”

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,, Invasive Barberry

Berberis thunbergii, has been overused for years; though it’s understandable why. Their deep red foliage offers a lovely contrast and deer don’t eat them.

Thankfully there are wonderful alternatives to barberry that are gaining popularity. Dwarf purple-leaved Weigela such as Weigela florida ‘Wine and Roses’, ‘Midnight Wine’, or ‘Fine Wine’ are a gorgeous deer resistant alternative. Substitutes to the larger maroon leaf barberry is my favored Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggygria, growing ten to fifteen feet though manageable with pruning. The smoke-like plumes of flowers give it its common name. Then there’s Eastern Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) – ‘Diablo’ my fav growing four to eight feet though you can keep it about four feet by cutting to a foot high each March.

For an alternative to gold barberry, I’ve heard Golden Jackpot Weigela, Weigela florida ‘MonRigney’ is a winner. Of course, there’s Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Aurea Nana’ or ‘Golden Mop’. Folks call them Gold Thread Cypress and tend to plant them next to barberry chopping them into yellow, maroon, yellow, maroon meatballs. Rather, may I suggest gold threads stand alone and allow them to grow into their feathery full-bodied selves. Garden Dilemmas? Askmarystone@gmail.com

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog,, Invasive Barberry,Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggygria, Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Aurea Nana’

Smoke Bush with Gold Thread Cypress allowed to grow into their feathery full-bodied selves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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