The Natural Gardener

For Silver Spring’s Edamarie Mattei, a landscaping career developed…well, organically

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“You build the structure, but you’re working with independent beings. There’s a lot you won’t be able to control,” she says. “But being a good observer and listener and learner all make you a better parent, a better teacher, a better gardener.”

A frequent contributor to the magazine, Kathleen Wheaton is the author of Aliens and Other Stories (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2013). To comment on this story, email

Plant This, Not That

Is that tangle of English ivy strangling everything in its path? Are daylilies taking over the garden? Backyard Bounty owner Edamarie Mattei says it’s best to replace those and other common nonnative invasive plants with a mix of native plants and nonnative, noninvasive alternatives that grow well in the Mid-Atlantic region and won’t consume your yard. Here are some to consider:


  • Japanese barberry with bayberry or ninebark varieties, such as “Diablo” or “Summer Wine.”
  • Maiden grass with switchgrass varieties, such as “Shenandoah” or “Northwind.”
  • Chinese wisteria with American wisteria, such as “Amethyst Falls.”
  • Honeysuckle vine with trumpet honeysuckle, such as “John Clayton.”
  • English ivy (groundcover) with golden ragwort or “Bunny Blue” sedge.
  • Daylily with spiderwort.
  • Autumn olive with smooth witherod viburnum varieties, such as “Winterthur” and “Brandywine.”
  • Yellow Flag iris with Blue Flag iris.

For more information on invasive plants and native alternatives, check out the U.S. National Arboretum’s website:

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