Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Native Plants: Fall Wow!

Kristin Lacey

For those who have heard me discuss the challenges of my courtyard space in Fishtown, I can sound like a bratty-broken record. “It’s a Mediterranean micro-climate”, I relay. And, it is indeed a Philly heat-island affected, south facing, protected, and mostly brick-covered space.

To accommodate the heat and arid conditions of our yard, I replaced 4 finicky ergo deceased sky pencils (Ilex crenata) with 2 native straight-species Iteas. 

Itea virginica has 4 seasons of interest in the garden but fall is its showiest moment. Its 4 foot by 4 foot arching form gracefully displays its flaming autumn color. In sunny spots, the Itea will turn fiery crimson, burgundy, and purple. In full or partly-shady spots, its autumn leaves will be orange, gold and scarlet.

Leaves will hang in there well into winter and the twigs will stay their deep red. In spring the leaves fan out dramatically and in early to mid-summer large white flower clusters emerge. 

Itea is very adaptable to various soil conditions and it’s quite handsome, which makes it a wow of a native plant.

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