Married with two children, Jan volunteers as a Master Gardener in Prince William County and an Audubon-At-Home Ambassador with the Audubon Society of Northern VA.  Her garden is certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary, a Wildlife Habitat and a Monarch Waystation.  She is the author of the garden blog Thanks For Today  (, where she shares her photography, observations and thoughts about the perennials, backyard birds, butterflies and other critters that live in her Virginia suburban garden, zone 7-A.


More New Natives For My Gardens
by Jan Huston Doble - posted 03/04/13


I drove up to Alexandria on Saturday to visit a native plant nursery. Since they weren't just yet open for the season, I had made an appointment in advance. I was the only customer and had the undivided attention of Randee, the manager of Nature-By-Design. I had spoken with him a few days earlier asking if he had any Spigelia. I have just one plant that I got from Carolyn's Shade Gardens during a visit a couple of years ago. I liked it so much that I wanted to add a few more. When Randee said he had what I was looking for, I asked about Claytonia. He said yes. Then I asked about Cercis...I've wanted a nice Eastern Redbud for a while. He had that, too. So it was a no-brainer--off I went with money in hand!


2 Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)


It's often been my experience that native's are not 'cheap'! They can put a 'dent' in your pocketbook because they aren't always readily available on the market. But I've been working on creating a native backyard habitat for some time now and there a few shrubs, small trees and plants that I've been hoping to get--sooner, rather than later--so I just 'bit the bullet', so to speak.


 2 Ilex verticillata, 1 male & 1 female (American Winterberry)

 Although nothing is really 'beautiful' when not in bloom, I'm happy with my purchases.


Rhododendron calendulaceum (Flame Azalea) 

You'll notice, from the photos, that I came back with much more than I originally went up for. Isn't that always the case? Whether it's the grocery store or the garden center...who leaves with just a couple of items?!  I'll admit I've done it on occasion--but not usually.



Rhododendron periclymenoides (Pink Azalea)

You might look at some of these photos and wonder why I'm so excited. It's because I know they are native to my area of Virginia. And, because I know that when they are in bloom they are going to be gorgeous!!


2 Dryopteris marginalis (Woodfern)

They will provide the native birds, bees and butterflies with the pollen, nectar and/or berries that they crave, and they will generally adapt to the soil conditions and climate of my yard, because they are naturally meant to be here.


8 Spigelia marilandica (Woodland Pinkroot), 2 Eupatorium purpureum (Sweet Joe Pye Weed),

3 Erythronium albidum (White Trout Lily)

That's not to say that they are 'guaranteed' to grow. Oh, if only that were the case, my yard would be a native jungle by now!



The Trout Lily has some above-ground foliage

No, it's not any 'simpler' to start natives in a suburban backyard than to start any other plant. But it's a wise choice because once they are embedded in the soil and landscape, they will require less water and generally less effort than many non-natives.


2 Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)

They will put up with the ups-and-downs that this climate throws at them, unlike, say, a plant that thrives in mainly tropical climates or one that likes the desert conditions only. Yes, sometimes it feels like the tropics here--and sometimes it feels like the desert, deep in July. But it's zone 7A...and the natives I'm spending my money on are comfortable here. It's their home.


Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

I mentioned earlier that there were no blooms just yet...but the Green and Gold (below) has blooms already because Randee had been growing them in the greenhouse and then put them out in the sun. In our current and (expected to continue) blast of cold weather, the flowers and perhaps even the foliage, will die--but that won't kill the plants themselves. I have other Green and Gold's that haven't yet emerged from the ground so these are just a little ahead of schedule but I'm sure they'll be okay.


Viola canadensis (White Violet), Viola sororia (Blue Violet), Viola striata (Striped Violet),

Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold)


Sadly (!) I have to make another trip to the nursery to exchange 3 Spigelia for 3 Claytonia. During the visit, we forgot to put the Spring Beauties aside!! I have never had those in my garden and I really want sometime this week or next weekend I'll make a visit to swap out the plants. I will try to fight the temptation to buy more natives while I'm there. I've done enough damage for this month!


Since today is Tuesday, I am almost a week late to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday (held on the 4th Wednesday of each month at Clay and Limestone) but I'm going to link to her meme because I'm trying to participate every month this year and don't want 'a little week' to interfere with my good intentions! Thanks for having this every month, Gail!


What gifts have you discovered today? Until next time,

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @

Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

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January 2013, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day
by Jan Huston Doble - posted 01/15/13


It's a chilly, rainy day here in northern Virginia, and there isn't much blooming in the garden on this January 15th. But since it is, after all, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, I made a short trek around the garden with my camera to see what's in bloom. Although none of my native plants are in bloom just yet, there are a few lovely blooms, nonetheless.


Snowdrops (Galanthus) are in bloom.  They are so very tiny and delicate, I had to bend way down to get these shots.  If I didn't make a special effort to look for them, I would almost certainly miss them.






Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) has been in bloom since November. If you look at the photos, you can see the blooms that are faded and look more tattered than the newer, whiter ones.




 A few other Hellebores have buds that are pretty far along and will be in full bloom soon.






Sweet Allysum has been flowering since I put it in a container arrangement last summer. It isn't something I plant often, but I was happy to see it continuing to bloom. For an annual, that's pretty cool, I think.





While not blooms, per se, the bright red berries on the Dwarf Nandina add a cheeriness to the garden.




Indoors, the Amaryllis (below) is holding on to the last stalk of 3, each stalk having had 3 blooms each.





To view more photos of blooms around the world on this day in January, visit Carol's blog, May Dreams Gardens.




What gifts have you discovered today? Until next time,

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @

Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

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Azaleas in the Garden
by Jan Huston Doble - posted 05/10/11


Ginny, our miniature dachshund (in the April garden with Ajuga and Azalea), photographed by my daughter


It's been difficult to write lately. It's not that I've been uninspired; I've just been outside working in the garden for hours every day and completely immersing myself in my surroundings.





The Azaleas have just been exploding with color!





When we moved to our home in 1996, there was very little color in my garden.





We gradually added perennials and shrubs, many of them multi-colored Azaleas, and over the years they've grown larger.




At the time of planting, I wasn't sure how well the various colors would blend together or if they would look too gaudy.






But I've been pleased with the results. They definitely make a 'splash' in my front yard!






I did not keep track of the varieties when I planted them. I've gotten better about that as I've become a more experienced gardener--but when we moved here, I just wanted to get plants into the ground!





While these are not North American native azaleas, they do bring pollinators to the garden, such as this bee.






Watching the wildlife and pollinators is one of my favorite things to do in my garden.






I love to watch and take photographs of the bees and butterflies that have stopped by. It's always such a treat to see them--especially when they first start visiting in the spring!






The photo below includes a lilac bush I added a couple of summers ago.  It smells heavenly.




Lilac blooming with the azaleas



Azalea time in my garden runs about 3 to 4 weeks...from about mid-April to mid-May. My blooms opened a bit later this year than they did last.






Do you grow azaleas in your garden? What are the color combinations you most enjoy?



Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @

Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

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