Go native, in the garden
With more people aware of Earth's delicate ecosystems, there is a growing trend to include native plants in homeowners' landscapes.
According to Kim Bush, nursery manager/landscape designer at That Perennial Place, native plants can provide not only a hardy beauty that requires minimal maintenance, but also a source of food and shelter for wildlife.
“A lot of native plants produce seeds and berries that animals eat,” Bush said. “Your native grasses can also give them a little place to make a home during the winter.”
She added, “There may be a naturalist stuck in the middle of town who wants that little oasis or retreat that they feel like they're out in the woods. It just all depends on people's personal preference.”
Native plants require little or no maintenance because they're acclimated to the area in which they grow.
“It just reseeds itself,” said Bush. “But it can be invasive and aggressive, so do some research before you pick one that you like.”
Also, be sure to check the Federal Noxious Weed List, which indicates those varieties restricted from planting, because they choke out the good weeds and flowers. The list can be obtained from the USDA or from University of Illinois Extension offices.
Some popular native plants are cone flower, black-eyed susan and aster, Bush said. Native grasses, like little blue stem and big blue stem, are becoming popular, too. Many have distinctive features such as a blue tint or a horizontal yellow stripe. Some nurseries specialize in native plants.
“We have cultivars of native plants at That Perennial Place. They're not original to our area, but they're very hardy,” Bush said. “If people want more, we can refer them to where they can get more.”
That Perennial Place, 1565 W. US Route 6, Morris, IL, (815) 942 2235 website: http://thatperennialplace.com/