As is often the case, I had more information than I could fit into the print version of the GreenSpace column, which this morning was about the environmental benefits of native plants.
As evidence that Doug Tallamy's message is taking off -- in addition to the 100 talks he gives a year and the 130 people that showed up recently at one hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education -- is the growing number of nurseries that sell native plants and the growing number of organizations that hold annual sales.
For a list of nurseries, check out www.plantnative.org. It lists more than a dozen in central New Jersey and the broad southeastern Pennsylvania region.
Often, these places do more than just sell plants. Not long ago, my husband and I hired Catherine Renzi of Yellow Springs Native Plant Nursery, to come over and walk through our yard with us, making suggestions for native plants that would work in particular areas. It was great. I had my tape recorder going to get down all the ideas, and now we've picked a couple projects in particular to tackle this spring.
As for the plant sales, they're all over the place.
The Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve in Bucks County has one coming up May 5. It's the perfect place to wander and see what the natives look like when they're full-grown and in the right setting.
The Schuylkill Center is having a sale on April 28 and 29, timed to the opening of its sensory garden.
The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association is having one, too.
The Nature Center of Cape May has an interesting take. They're focusing on plants that benefit caterpillars in their swap and sale.
If your organization is having a native plant sale and you'd like to let people know, leave the information in the comment section below.
You can find lists of native plants not only on Doug Tallamy's site and in his book. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has an online brochure. The Pennsylvania Game Commission sells a "Landscaping for Wildlife" booklet. The Natural Lands Trust in Media is another good source of information.
And there's so much more. You'll have fun rummaging around on Google.
Meanwhile, a sampling of some of the comments coming into my inbox this morning:
I have been passionate about native plants for about 10 years, and now our 2/3 acre suburban property has, instead of 95% grass as when we moved in, scores of native trees and shrubs, in addition to hundreds of herbaceous natives. It's not always smooth sailing. Especially in a smaller yard, the invasives sail in on a regular basis. But it's still worth it. Neighbors haven't complained, and I go to great lengths to make the front yard presentable; but they're not growing many natives, either, YET.
In Lafayette Hill, some other volunteers and I have planted thousands of native flowers and grasses in Koontz Park, a new park in Whitemarsh Township. We hope it will inspire people, and if they read your column this morning, maybe they'll make a connection.
About five years ago, I shifted to growing more food. So now I garden using permaculture principles. In a habitat, it's very interesting. BIRDS, in addition to rabbits, groundhogs, and deer, love to eat greens and berries, and they even love to peck on tomatoes. I've been experimenting with cloches, as well as with floating row covers and fencing.
As a member of the Garden Club of America I have taken Doug Tallamy's message to heart, have read his book and been fortunate to hear him speak.
Here comes the but, I kept waiting for you to mention our beautiful native hydrangeas. The oakleaf, Hydrangea quercifolia, and the smooth, Hydrangea arborescences, are wonderful natives. There are many cultivars of both to suit almost any situation. I think it would have reinforced your message that we can be responsible stewards and have gorgeous landscapes.
(Note from Sandy: What great info! I had no idea those gorgeous oakleafs were natives. I am already scheming to figure out where to put some.)
Until this Tallamy guy tells me how I can grow anything without posting a deer sniper 24/7, your well-written and interesting article only raises false hopes. Our deer, by the way, LOVE to eat hydrangea.
(Note: Oh dear. I suppose that's part of the point. Deer would certainly love natives. That's the problem in our forests: Deer eat the part of the understory that's native, and the invasives run wild. I'm worried about that myself, because I'm going to spend a lot of money this spring buying natives. Renzi has suggested some for our spots that are deer resistant. Surely, there are other ways to keep them at bay.... Suggestions, anyone? Post them below and we'll all be grateful.)