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Native Plants

Gledistia tricanthus (honey locust) commonly thought to be native but would not be considered native with our traditional definitions of the word native. Photo by Dan Jaffe Wilder
 

What is Native?

By Dan Jaffe Wilder

The recent interest in ecologically-minded landscapes has created a growing interest in native plants with more interest comes the question, what exactly does native mean? To simply state a plant is native is to make certain assumptions, and qualifiers are needed in order to make the statement namely time and place.

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<em>Aronia melanocarpa </em> (chokeberry)  

Small Native Shrubs to Replace Commonly Used Exotics

By Sarah W. Middeleer, ASLA

What do Japanese spirea, burning bush, boxwood, and forthysia all have in common? They are all non-native common garden plants that can be invasive and do not support native pollinators. Growing native plants helps foster biodiversity, feed bees, and other pollinators.  Many of our northeastern native shrubs are fantastic substitutes for commonly used exotics. 

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Monarch Butterfly on rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) Photo by Nick Novick 

North American Prairie Species of New England

By Neil Diboll

Many flowers and grasses commonly associated with Midwestern prairies also occur in the meadows of New England. Some species are widely distributed throughout the region, while others are only occasional or rare. Most are more common in the prairie region, but some are abundant in the Northeast.

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 The sheet mulching project at Wellesley College taken 10 years after it was first installed to suppress turf grass June 2020 shows a thriving plant community.
 

Alexandra Botanic Gardens of Wellesley College: Sheet Mulching Update

By Tricia Diggins

Ten years ago I wrote an article about sheet mulching that highlighted a project in the Alexandra Botanic Gardens of Wellesley College. It was so interesting to revisit the project ten years later and to see if the sheet mulching solution stood the test of time and kept the turfgrass at bay. One of the unexpected benefits of smothering the turfgrass was that it allowed native plants to naturally form a thriving plant community.  

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Patio with salvaged sandstone 

Revitalizing A Tired Palette

by Don Pell

Four years ago, a project inquiry brought me to a site that dreams are made of—an 18th-century colonial farmhouse beautifully restored over the past 30 years by its owners. The details of the home were meticulously curated; however, the gardens were entirely unconsidered. The home’s surroundings looked degraded and sadly suburban. Join me as I transform this landscape into an ecological oasis for the homeowners to enjoy for years to come.  

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 In this second year of growth, the Education Building begins to feel grounded in a verdant landscape. Photo by Jamie Purinton 
 

Let it Rain

by Jamie Purinton &  Marc Wolf

Mountain Top Arboretum was designed to mimic and compliment the wondrous native plant communities of New York’s Catskill Mountains. Habitats such as wet meadows and seeps, woodland edges, and bedrock alpine communities completely guided the style and content of the plantings and the stonework. Teamwork combining design, planting, stormwater management, and a focus on educating the public culminated in a landscape that can be resilient through all types of weather. 

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 From left: A garden of anise hyssop, little bluestem, sneezeweed, boneset in front of smooth hydrangea. 

Lessons Learned on A Native Plant Journey

By Cathy Weston

A visit to  Cape Cod brings us to a  2-acre fallow farmland property where the homeowner/gardener has spent years cutting back invasive plants to return the land from an Old Field habitat to a Coastal Woodland.  The amount of effort to remove and keep invasives at bay could seem a daunting task, but this homeowner persevered and with trial and error created a beautiful ecological habit for both herself and the wildlife her property now calls home. 

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Yael_Weiss_Liatris_aspera 

Spotlight on Natives: Photo Contest Winners 2020

by Georgia Harris

This year our Spotlight on Natives Photo Contest garnered over 200 photos from across the country. While it is exciting every year to see so many lovely photographs of native plants, in this year’s climate of uncertainty, it is wonderful to have such a substantial response from our community. We hope this groundswell of interest in native plants and habitat continues to grow and blossom throughout the coming year. 

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13.Pet.memorial.garden.overlooking.marsh 

Celebrating Native Gardens Tour – Amesbury, MA

Hosted by Nanette Masi

When Nanette and her husband Mike purchased their two-acre property in 1994, the landscape was overrun with invasives, including Japanese knotweed, honeysuckle, barberry, burning bush, and more. Take a walk through Nanette’s gardens to savor what 26 years of loving care and native plant choices can bring to an environment. You’ll find inspiration in the sanctuary she’s created for people, animals, and plants.

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CSummers Carolina silverbell 

Why Aren’t These Plants in Every Garden? Three Great Plants to Know and Grow

by Carolyn Summers

Throughout her career working with people, plants, and landscapes, author/designer and gardener extraordinaire Carolyn Summers has often been puzzled by the lack of interest in certain plants that she finds exceptionally useful.  These plants bridge the gap that sometimes exists between what humans want and what wildlife needs. Carolyn introduces us to three underused plants that are a must-have for native gardeners. 

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