From the desert Southwest to the vast Great Plains, from the hot summers and below-freezing winters of the north to the salt spray of the maritime east and the mild and rainy northwest coast -- the United States, and the North American continent in general, contains an almost dizzying variety of climates and environments.
With this superabundance of natural environments comes also a wonderful variety of beautiful and interesting native plant life. It makes gardening easier and pays homage to an area's horticultural heritage to include some plants that are native to your area -- or that may hail from elsewhere in the world but thrive under similar conditions.
Xeriscaping, especially useful in arid areas that are naturally hot and dry, replaces the large expanses of lawn and thirsty garden flowers with landscaped areas of striking cacti and desert plants. This saves on water in areas subject to drought and creates a garden area that functions as a more natural part of its environment.
So whatever the climate where you choose to reside, there are garden plants for you. Our natural garden ideas and garden photos will help you select just the right thing for your backyard.
Some of the most versatile of all garden perennials were bred from ultra-hardy meadow and prairie plants from the Great Plains of the United States. These habitats, although often appearing somewhat flat and featureless topographically, were once teeming microcosms that supported a vast range of wildlife. Plants such as these aster, purple coneflower, rudbeckia, and liatris share the traits of hardiness, disease resistance, and a long season of bloom.
Now that you're armed with information, why not start with the seemingly greatest challenge? Click to the next page for ideas on how to grow a garden even in the desert.
Thinking you'd like to take nature to the next level in your garden? These photos and ideas will help plant the seeds of creativity: