Prickly Pear

Rock Barrens

This area is one of our first native plantings and a great place for xeriscape garden ideas. In the recent past this was home to a stand of drought-stricken sumacs.

We exposed this marble rock barren by literally rolling up two-inch deep sections of weedy sod. With the help of a garden hose what we found turned out to be a great looking slab of bedrock and a good site for shrubs such as silky dogwood, soapberry, snowberry and maple-leaved viburnum. The herbaceous layer is made up of plants such as Bloodroot. Woodlily, False Solomon Seal, Eastern Columbine and Trailing Arbutus. A patch of prickly pear cactus thrives in the coarse soil here. This is one exception to our 100-mile plant source guide. It is from Eastern Ontario, but just outside the 100 mile range. Common Polypody fern covers the top of the largest granite boulder near the bench.

On the path back to the maple beech wood watch for another sizable boulder close to a butternut tree. This one is limestone and home to one of our most unusual ferns. The walking ferns singular habitat in the wild is on the surface of moist, mossy limestone rocks in almost full shade. We have discovered however that they do just fine as a terrarium plant, which is where we propagate ours.