Award Winning Natives for New England
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Cary Award for Distinctive Plants

From By Peggy Anne Montgomery

Issue | Published 11/04/2013 · Link to Article

An endowment from noted plantsman Edward A. Cary established the Cary Award for Distinctive Plants for New England in 1997. Horticulturists from across New England have selected more than 45 Cary Award winners to draw attention to unusual and underused plants and, above all, to help consumers choose plants with proven records of success. It's not surprising that many of the winners are native plants. So please let me introduce you to some of the best landscapes plants for New England - that just happen to be natives! 

New England Natives Win Awards!

Many Cary Award Winners are Natives

It's not surprising that many of the winners are native plants. So please let me introduce you to some of the best landscapes plants for New England - that just happen to be natives! 

Little King River Birch

Betula nigra 'Little King' (Also known by its trade name, Fox Valley™)

Perfect size for smaller gardens

Gracefully peeling bark in shades of cream, apricot and brown

Larval host plant for many butterflies including tiger swallowtails

Fringe Tree

Chionanthus virginicus

Blooms in late May and early June with fragrant white flowers

Female plants have lovely blue fruit in late summer

Attracts birds and butterflies

Tupelo

Nyssa sylvatica

This tree is on fire in the fall!

Heavy nectar producer, drawing all kinds of pollinators

Black fruit provides tasty morsels for songbirds

Ruby Spice Summersweet Clethra

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby Spice'

Flowers in July and August with bright pink blossoms Flowers are delightfully fragrant and long-lasting, up to six weeks

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar

Large Fothergilla

Fothergilla major

White flowers in late spring, which have the scent of honey

Native butterflies and insects flock to the blooms

Yellow, orange and red fall color is superb!

Little Leaf Laurels

Kalmia latifolia

Deep green, glossy foliage is always attractive

Clusters of pale pink flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds

Evergreen shrubs provide year round protective cover for wildlife

White Pine 'Soft Touch'

Pinus strobus 'Soft Touch'

 Perfect for today’s urban gardens, just 3’ tall

Twisted blue needles are soft to the touch

Provides year round cover for all kinds of beneficial wildlife

Pinkshell azalea

Rhododendron vaseyi



A deciduous azalea, light pink flowers light up the woodland landscape

Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies with its ample supply of nectar

Exhibits a beautiful red fall color

Low Bush Blueberry

Vaccinium angustifolium

Beautiful in spring with waxy flowers that attract bees

In July and August birds relish the sweet and juicy blue fruits

The glowing red fall color is nothing less than spectacular

Adam's Needle

Yucca filamentosa

Highly regarded ornamental, nectar source for butterflies

Seed from spent flowers is a delicacy for birds

Known for its ethno-botanical uses - fiber, medicine, soap etc.

Bearberry or Kinnikinick

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi



Glossy foliage, interesting flowers and fruit, great groundcover

Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies

Berries are enjoyed by birds and other wildlife, great fall color

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro Low’



Spring flowers attract butterflies

Red berries are eaten by birds and other small mammals

Great fall color, drought tolerant, deer tend not to eat it

Three-toothed Cinquefoil

Sibbaldiopsis tridentate (formerly Potentilla tridentate)

In May and June glossy leaves are topped by small white flowers

Bright red autumn color remains throughout the winter

Flowers attract small bees in springtime

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