Gardening’s Latest Trend That’s Here to Stay: Native Plants
It has become common knowledge that home gardeners should use native plants to support their local ecosystem. Native plants have adapted over thousands of years to growing in a particular region and have co-evolved to form specialized relationships with native wildlife. These plants provide food for plant-eating insects, which in turn become food for native predatory insects, birds, and mammals.
For example, 95% of birds feed their young with caterpillars due to their high protein and nutrient levels. Caterpillars are host plant specialists and are only able to eat the leaves of specific native plants. The same goes for native pollinators. There are over 4,000 native bees in the U.S. Most of them are specialists and only gather nectar and pollen from particular native flowers to feed their larvae.
Since native plants are species that occur naturally in their environment, they can thrive without interference. They are extremely hardy, don’t require fertilizer or a lot of maintenance to grow, and can get by with minimal irrigation.
Multiple small native plantings in our yards and landscape can accumulate to provide a huge benefit for birds, butterflies, bees, and other wildlife. However, finding appropriate native plants can be a challenge. That's why the Westfield Green Team and Friends of Brightwood Park are partnering with the Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA) for their 3rd Annual Pollinator Plant Sale.
How the Native Plant Sale Works
The online sale will kick off at 1:30pm on Monday, April 3 and run through close of business on Friday, April 28, with plant pickup for Westfield residents at Brightwood Park on Saturday, May 6.
The GSWA sale includes native plants that have been carefully selected for their ability to thrive with minimal care, attract pollinators, and grow well in a variety of conditions. Most are resistant to deer; however, no species is deer proof.
The sale offers native plant “kits,” comprised of plants that bloom and provide pollinators both food and nectar through the seasons, as well as favorite species sold as standalones.
To order your native plants starting on April 3, visit the Great Swamp Native Plant Catalog. Don’t delay as many species sell out!
Pollinator Webinar Series
The GSWA is also hosting a series of webinars to help both novice and expert gardeners build their knowledge and prepare for the plant sale. Led by nationally acclaimed subject matter experts, these one-hour webinars focus on native plants and the essential role a variety of pollinators play in the ecosystem.
Click here to listen to recordings or register for upcoming webinars, including “What’s the Buzz About Native Bees?” on March 21 from 7-8pm EST that examines native bees and the important role they play as pollinators for agricultural and native plant species. On April 3 from 12-1pm EST, they’ll also be hosting a “Native Plant Sale Product Overview” webinar, when you’ll be able to hear more about the plants for sale this year, including details about their growth habits and benefits for pollinator-friendly yards.
By choosing to use native plants in your yard, you will play a critical role in restoring the natural ecology of our area. Native plants provide food and habitat to local insects and birds and help counter the loss of biodiversity occurring at an alarming rate over the past decade.