Why native planting is the way to go

Photo from Penn State Extension Master Gardener The Master Gardener Demonstration Garden.

When choosing plants for our gardens, most of us probably choose them based on a couple of simple criteria: visual appeal and maintenance. Often though, at least for me, these plants don’t survive and we’re left wondering what we could have done differently.

If you took part in this year’s Garden Stroll, then you would know that choosing native plants is what you could have done differently to make your garden thrive.

A native plant is any plant that is indigenous to the area in which you live, meaning that it was here before European settlers and is well adapted to the soil and the climate. These plants are often less expensive and less maintenance than other plants, but equally as beautiful.

If you’ve ever had a plant overtake your garden and squeeze the life out of other plants in it, you’ve probably planted a non-native plant. These plants can ward off local insects, birds, and animals, and can overtake and kill native plants very quickly, pushing some of them to the brink of extinction.

Native plants help the environment by supporting local wildlife and insects; equally helpful is the fact that native plants are easy to maintain and durable because they have already proven to thrive in the ecosystem in which you live. It is also possible to enjoy the beauty of native plants throughout all four seasons.

A short trip to Hawk Mt. provides a plethora of information on native plants. Hawk Mt. is home to a dedicated native plant garden that has over 250 species of native plants, and can be visited year round; Hawk Mt. also has an annual native plant sale in May of each year.

Edge of the Woods, a nursery located a short car trip up Route 100, is dedicated to educating locals about native planting and selling native plants. They offer services such as tours of the native plants in their own garden, consultations at their nursery with suggestions for which native plants to choose, and even on-site consultations at your home garden.

The Berks County Master Gardeners also maintain a demonstration garden at the Berks County Agriculture Center located in Leesport. This demonstration garden is an excellent place to visit to see what types of plants can be grown successfully in your own garden; this garden has no admission fee and is open to the public at all times.

For more information and a more complete list of plants native to Berks County, visit https://sites.google.com/site/nativeplanthighlights/home.

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