I’ve realized that the process of picking plant varieties may be difficult, and an online search will probably yield far too much information to be of any use at all. So, without further ado, here are my recommendations for good places to start when choosing plants for your landscape design.
One of the first places to look would be the Middlebury College Master Plan, which speaks in great depth to the natural systems and communities on campus. The Natural Systems chapter (PDF) is a trove of information on native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plant types found in clayplain forest communities. But I wouldn’t stop there.
As students of my Urban Forestry J-Term class learned, there is no such thing as a ‘native’ tree in an urban setting. Local stresses, such as root and soil compaction, wreck havoc on many of our native tree species, so non-invasive alternatives should be considered as well to increase the diversity of our urban jungle. For a couple of years now I’ve relied on a now out-dated book printed by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources called “Recommended Trees for Vermont Communities”. They’ve been working on a new addition, and I’ve gotten permission to make availible the PDF of the new version, called “Vermont Tree Selection Guide”. This copy is only a rough draft, but glancing through it this morning I’m quite impressed.
Other online tools will be of some help as well. The University of Illinois Extension has an online tree selector, as well as an online shrub selector. Another good online tree selector is hosted by the US Forest Service.
An online book availible for design help, and well worth the 7MB download, would be The Road to a Thoughtful Street Tree Master Plan, availible for download at the Urban Forestry South website. One final (shorter) publication to read would be “Right Plant, Right Place”-A Plant Selection Guide for Managed Landscapes. This has some great plant lists that are very applicable to Vermont.
For wetland plantings, or other general information, the first catalog I always grab is from New England Wetland Plants. For perennial flowers, the master of all lists resides at the wonderful Van Berkum Nursery in New Hampshire.
And if you’re still overwhelmed, give me a shout. Nothing I like better than talking plants.