Going Native (in Your Garden)

By Cecilia Palmer

Here are some of my thoughts on going native in the garden:
Humingbird Moth Image

Hummingbird Moth

The creation of garden rich in plant selections chosen for their ornamental attributes is both challenging and tremendously rewarding. Gardens filled with plants that provide a myriad of floral displays  and contrasting foliage textures are attractive to be in. Brilliant colors, fully displayed ,with soothing elements of water are a goal of many of gardeners.

Learning to Be a Part of Nature

These same gardens, so beautiful to create, can also be havens for nurturing wildlife. This also helps preserve the native ecosystems bringing a greater level of importance and satisfaction to our garden spaces.

Oh, how fascinating is it to be able to watch butterflies flitting through the garden. It is so wondrous, listening to the sounds of birds singing, watching them as they feed on the fruits of our labor.

Proper selection and arrangement of native plants that attractive wildlife is relatively easy. A skilled landscape design can satisfy our aesthetic needs and the needs of the wildlife we wish to attract simultaneously. The structure of the garden can be achieved with the use of evergreens and native hardwoods trees.

For much of Northern Virginia, the following trees are preferred:

  • Red Maple
  • Sweetgum
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Oak
  • American Holly
  • Northeastern Arborvitae

These trees and shrubs create great nesting sites and shelter for birds.

Additionally, consider creating an excellent source of food with undulating swatch of native shrubs, mixed with tall grasses. Add a dash of color with perennials. Ideally the plants chosen for our garden are native to our area. You’ll find native plant are more adaptable and they flourish with less maintenance than a conventional garden.

Bringing Nature Home Cover ImageBringing Nature Home

One of my all-time favorite books about native gardens is University of Delaware’s Doug Tallamy’s “Bringing Nature Home.” Hearing one of Doug’s lectures inspired this article. His excellent website can be found by clicking here.

His book goes into great detail explaining which plants are best suited to attracting wildlife into your garden. In “Bringing Nature Home” you will learn exactly which native plants are best suited to attract the type of bird, butterfly, and other animals into your garden.

Another great resource is www.butterfliesandmoths.org. Here you will find customized list that can be created displaying which butterflies and moths are native to your area corresponding to which nectar plants are best suited to host them. And the pictures are beautiful.