At Natureworks, we LOVE native plants. Throughout the growing season we regularly stock native perennials, woodland wildflowers, meadow flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses, even a few annuals and bulbs! There are native plants for sun, shade, wet soil, dry soil, and everything in between. You don’t have to have a large yard to grow native plants. They can fit easily in your foundation planting, a flower garden, or a privacy border.
WHY SHOULD WE PLANT NATIVE PLANTS?
Native plants are a vital part of our ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for native insects, birds and wildlife all year round. They are a critical link in the chain for bees and other pollinators that insure our food supply. They are adapted to our soils and climate and are therefore easier to establish and grow, requiring much less water and fertilizer. They are a source of carefree beauty for the landscape.
“Only 3-5% of undisturbed habitat is left in the USA. It is inadequate to support our native species. 95% of the native plants and animals could become extinct within our lifetimes. Alien species do not sustain our native wildlife- from those we see to those we don’t- including pollinators and vital links in our food chain.”
Douglas Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home
There are many ways to define native plants. Purists consider a native plant to be one that was originally found here before America was settled. Some only consider a plant native if it is naturally found in the state or bioregion that you are from. Others call any plant native to North America or the United States native. Depending on your opinion, native plants can embrace not just the straight species but can be loosely defined to include all cultivars, varieties, and hybrids.
At Natureworks we not only carry the straight species of native plants, but also many of the newest cultivars. We plant them in our demonstration gardens and in our home gardens as well as the gardens of our clients. We are continuously testing and trialing native plants. We proudly carry the American Beauties line of native plants.
For many years, plants sold in garden centers and used in landscapes have focused on ornamental characteristics: pretty flowers, specimen plant, hedge plant, foundation plant, etc. Now, the question that we ask about the plants we sell is “What is its ecological function?” In other words, what does this plant DO for native insects, pollinators, wildlife, birds, carbon sequestration… and all of the other parts of our world that are important?
The person who introduced this conversation is Dr. Douglas Tallamy, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. His 2009 book Bringing Nature Home taught us that native insects co-evolved with native plants. His research has proved that native plants support the insects that are vital links in the food chain. These insects are fast disappearing and the future of our ecosystem depends on their survival. We MUST plant native plants to stop their decline and build up their populations to healthy levels.