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Designing Ecological Landscapes

Landscapes that mimic natural systems deliver important ecosystem services and are also aesthetically pleasing. Guided by principles that reduce resource consumption, ecologically designed landscapes provide natural solutions when land is disturbed by the construction of buildings or roadways, and they support landscaped communities from tiny rooftops to grand urban parks.

Robert W. PRO waterfall 2019 summerDSC05715 

Native Plants Shine in Streambank Restoration

by Krissy Boys

Four years after replacement of a streambank water control structure, native grasses, sedges, and forbs planted at the site have become well established. Most species are thriving and have propagated themselves by self-sowing in the streambank gardens. Only two species out of 58 genera completely failed.

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Wildflower Meadow Swamp Milkweed 8-6-18 

From Wasteland to Wildflower Meadow at Greenfield Community College

by Maureen Sundberg

A campus wildflower meadow tucked onto a slope at Greenfield Community College was designed as part of a larger outdoor learning lab that includes a botanical garden, wetland garden, permaculture garden, and raingarden. Two years after planting, the meadow has become an oasis of learning for students across the academic spectrum.

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Eco-Answers from the Pros: Designing Complementary Sun and Shade Gardens 

Eco-Answers from the Pros: Designing Complementary Sun and Shade Gardens

I can’t figure out how to have a shade bed complement the sun bed directly across from it – it’s not that things have to be matchy-matchy, but the brickwork makes them a symmetrical pair of beds. I am having trouble finding shade plants that I can combine into an ecological design, except low groundcovers and short woodland plants, and I am having a hard time visualizing what would work right across the bed of climbing roses, lambs ears, baptisa, gaura, japanese anemones, euphorbia, and salvia. ANY suggestions would be so, so appreciated. I am completely stumped!

 

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LWLA Garden_photo by Larry Weaner 

Ten Elements of Natural Design

by Larry Weaner

The elements that make a landscape design “natural” are difficult to define. A landscape with curved bed lines, informal plant arrangements, and no pyramidal yews does not always qualify as a natural landscape. And advocates of natural design are not necessarily eager to banish a host of beautiful exotics from the plant palettes of American landscape designers, replacing the plants with a motely crew of straggly natives. The basic concept behind natural design, however, is fairly simple – to incorporate native plant communities into the designed landscape. But their successful incorporation requires a basic understanding of how native plants operate in nature.

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Aesclepias - Butterfly Weed 

Members Making a Difference: Native Plant Demonstration Garden Is a Labor of Love

by Maureen Sundberg

ELA member Marie Chieppo initiated a collaboration with the Town of Needham to install a native plant demonstration garden at a busy public park. With the help of local volunteers and her own teenage children, the installation took place over six weeks this spring, and she continues to maintain the site.

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nativars at lurvey 

Citizen Scientists Help Parse the Native/Nativar Debate

by Jessamine (Jessa) Finch

As pollinators lose ground, we’ve been urged to create more pollinator-friendly gardens, but are all pollinator gardens created equal? A team at the Chicago Botanic Garden has developed a project to evaluate native and nativar support of pollinators by gathering data on pollinator preferences across the country. You can become part of the research team.

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