Suggestions for a woodland slope next to a parking lot


I started this message once and it disappeared before I finished. Anyway...My very good friend was just called to be lead pastor at a church in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. I attended her first sermon and was given a detailed tour of the facility and grounds. The grounds near the front, facing a residential street, are traditional lawn and mixed perennials, with not much native. But, there are non-manicured areas that are ripe for further development. To their credit, the congregation recently hired a reputable company to eradicate their buckthorn, and they planted some shrubs along the west edge of the parking lot. Unfortunately, that area has been neglected this season, and there are weeds moving in. There is a gardening committee, but they have not organized a work group to weed and mulch this area. So, I am living in a high rise apartment, with no opportunity to garden, and am considering offering my assistance in managing this area. I am looking for suggestions on native plants that might be acceptable to non-native gardeners, and would tolerate deep shade in the morning, but hot sun after about 1 pm. I didn’t think to take pictures, but there are tall deciduous trees growing along the west side of the parking lot. The ground drops off quite sharply about 10 feet from the edge of the pavement, and my goal would be to plant within that 10 foot depth. The parking lot is probably about 25 to 30 car widths long, so it’s a considerable area. I would likely try seeding or wintersowing, if I can get permission to clutter the area with containers. Thoughts? Questions? I’m already considering Aquilegia and anemone for spring. Should I consider this a sunny area, since it gets 6+ hours of sun through most of spring, summer and fall? Any ideas are welcome.

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Six hours of sun is the minimum for a full sun area. Since the area gets afternoon sun you definitely want plants that like sun. It is possible that some part-shade plants would also work well in this area; only the section near the front of the shaded area is going to get a full six hours of sun.

Gardening is a process. Plants grow, flower and seed out, Then they die or just sit there storing food for next year. No plant is going to provide unlimited flowers from spring to fall. Some have a longer flowering season, but the garden is not always going to look great. Sometimes plants shade out or overtake nearby plants. Plants die, even perennials, and you have to decide whether to replace them and with what. Weeds will continue to come up. It doesn't matter how much mulch you put down. Seeds are sowed by the wind, by birds and squirrels. Some catch onto the fur of animals then fall off later. Don't get discouraged, persevere. Gardeners are optimists.

As to which natives will work best in your area, I suggest you visit local nurseries that carry native plants. What they have in stock is likely to be the showiest and easiest growing of the natives. Note that not all plants growing wild are natives; they may be introduced from a similar climate elsewhere in the world. Invasive plants are introduced plants that out-compete native plants. Native plants can be aggressive growers without being invasive in the ecological sense. There are online sites with information on native plants for your area.

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