Monday, April 21, 2014

Rain Garden Workshop offered at the 2014 Native Plants in the Landscape Conference

Workshop 1: Vegetated Solutions for Functional
and Aesthetic Rain 
Thursday, June 5th  ǀ  8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Join North Creek’s very own Claudia West & Kevin Staso to kick off the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference on Thursday, June 5th for Workshop 1: Vegetated Solutions for Functional and Aesthetic Rain Gardens. In this daylong event, participants will learn why a majority of rain garden designs fail to meet our expectations and how to turn your next project into a success. The purpose of this advanced and professional workshop will be to properly design within a successful plant community that will provide maximum function and aesthetic appeal. Attendees will learn how to select, properly combine and install native plants based on a mixed planting approach — transforming beliefs, embracing new methodologies and dispelling currently “accepted” rain garden design.

View the conference brochure HERE. Register Online HERE. For more information call (717) 871-2189 or email

Field trips and workshops are rain or shine and depart from the Student Memorial Center. Comfortable footwear and clothes along with a hat and sunscreen are recommended. Attendees will need to bring their own hand trowels and gloves. Transportation, drinks, and a boxed lunch are included in the additional fee for the field trips.

Mark Your Calendars for the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference

BACK and better than EVER - Register NOW!

Celebrating its 23rd year in the making, the 2014 Native Plants in the Landscape Conference will be held June 5-7 at Millersville University in beautiful Millersville, PA.

Educational workshops, engaging lectures by industry leaders and inspirational field trips will focus on topics of concern including: stormwater management, permaculture, pollinators, plant conservation and designing with SITES in mind. As always, the native plant and book sale will be open for business throughout the conference.

Concurrent sessions and availability at such a busy time of year need not leave you fretting over which lecture to attend − new this year are conference recordings and single session & partial registrations. Also, expanded CEU’s are available for LACES, APLD, Delaware Certified Horticulturist, Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist, New York CNLP and Maryland CPH. The two LACES certified workshops for Landscape Architects include: Building a Rain & Planting a Meadow.

An expanded selection of lectures for both professional and amateur tracks, Saturday morning children’s education and all the shared knowledge in between sessions as you meet new friends and reconnect with familiar faces. We’re excited to see all of our native plant friends in scenic southern Lancaster County this summer. Save the date, this conference is not to be missed!

View the conference brochure HERE. Register Online HERE. For more information call (717) 871-2189 or email

Steph's Showcase!

Spring has finally sprung at North Creek! This week will be a record setting shipping week here on the farm; however, that hasn't deterred our shipping supervisor, Stephanie Spence, from walking the houses to let you know what is looking good. Here’s what caught her eye:

Chrysoganum virginianum 'Superstar'
green and gold
A superstar on the retail bench and a rock star in the garden, this green and gold packs a punch of brilliant, golden-yellow flowers from mid-May through Mid-June. A tough as nails groundcover for dappled sun to part shade - this little gem is a must have for your perennial program. LEARN MORE

Deschampsia cespitosa 'Goldtau'
tufted hairgrass
Virtually all forms are highly ornamental; however, if you’re looking for a smaller and more compact selection, your search stops at 'Goldtau'. Handsome year round, dark green foliage gives rise to golden-yellow inflorescences that bloom late June into mid-August.

Helleborus × ericsmithii 'Candy Love'
lenten rose
We’ve fallen in love with 'Candy Love' and our customers have too! The pastel hues of this late winter bloomer were the perfect way to say goodbye to a long, harsh winter. One of two outstanding selections in the Winter Magic™ series bred by Belgian hellebore expert, Thierry van Paemel. LEARN MORE

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Successful Rain Gardens Are Green ALL Season Long!

How does your rain garden function during winter and early spring? Are you starting to see cool season weeds? Is your rain garden managing stormwater runoff and sediment like it does during the lush summer months?

Let's be honest. If a rain garden looks anything like this in winter and early spring, it's not maximizing its function year-round:

This rain garden's soil is bare and exposed. Silt and sediment washes in and can cause ponding.

When we think of rain garden functionality, we focus our attention on its functionality during the growing season. What we fail to recognize is that it has to function in the dormant season as well. This is a huge problem - not just an offseason aesthetic issue.

Bare soil is one of the main reasons for why rain gardens consistently fail.

Why is bare soil a problem in rain gardens?

Winter precipitation and early spring rains generate larger amounts of stormwater runoff and sediment loads.

Classic rain garden designs simply fail to address this problem. During the dormant season, rain gardens tend to have little to no vegetation to prevent erosion or filter sediments - leading to clogged systems. Equally as important, during the dormant stage, a rain garden's bare soil presents an opportunity for weed invasions.

The solution: Use perennials with evergreen or semi-evergreen basal leaves to offer function and aesthetic value.
Carex amphibola

Evergreen basal leaves prevent erosion, suppress cool-season weeds, and filter out sediment. This perennial trait is an essential element of successful rain gardens, ensuring proper function beyond establishment and offering soil protection when needed most.

Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline'

Yes it's true, perennials go winter dormant, but we no longer have to accept bare soil and an empty winter garden. Properly vegetated rain gardens provide the elements we miss most during the cold season: they are green, they have texture, and they are densely vegetated to provide ground cover.

Deschampsia cespitosa

The palette of useful semi-evergreen perennials is vast. We'd love to share our experiences and assist you in choosing proper species with evergreen basal leaves for your next rain garden!

Physostegia virginiana 'Vivid'