ENVIRONMENT
02/09/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sustainable Landscapes: How Green Is Your Garden?

I couldn't believe that the giant goldenrod was still blooming in late December, when the temperature was only 32 degrees. But there it was, its curvy seven-foot stems lounging in a landscape devoted to regional plants at the United States Botanic Garden here. Solidago stricta, or wand goldenrod, is a native of New Jersey's coastal wetlands. "But it's very adaptable. I have it blooming at home, in dry clay, right now," said Bill McLaughlin, the garden's curator of living collections. "It's the plant I name when the local rock garden society asks, 'What's blooming in your garden in January?' "

We wandered on through the three-acre garden filled with plants native to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont areas, from New Jersey to North Carolina, many of which can be grown in southern parts of New York and Connecticut and other places where winter temperatures rarely drop below zero.

Even in this frozen state, the garden serves as a model for the Sustainable Sites Initiative, introduced in November by the United States Botanic Garden, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
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