Last Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day in Virginia (props to our natives and their descendants!), and it got me thinking about our gorgeous country and all it has to offer.
If you're on our page right now, you're probably a fellow nature enthusiast. You like to grow things, and you appreciate how beautiful your garden looks in June or July when it's buzzing with the fruits of your labor.
...Except for one thing: have you noticed lately the lack of actual buzzing? More and more often, I'm noticing on the gardening groups and in my conversations with people that they're experiencing a lack of pollination and therefore fewer crops. Bees, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies, moths--they're the key to pollination, and yet when I look around I see fewer and fewer things that make them want to stay.
But here's the thing: it doesn't have to be like that! By planting native species in our landscapes or on our properties, we're contributing to the environment that our native pollinators need to thrive. By planting non-native or invasive plants, we could even be doing the opposite by creating competition for the plants they need, or providing a safe haven for invasive insects.
Basically, a native species is a plant or animal that naturally occurred in an area before European settlement. Today, about 25% of flowering plants in America are non-native. They're native to somewhere, just not here. But non-native species can even come from other regions of the country!
So why plant native? Let's break it down. These are some excellent reasons to plant native species on your property instead of sourcing non-native flowers, trees, or shrubs from your local big-box store:
1. They'll actually grow, and really well.
Plant species that have evolved in your area are more likely to thrive in the local conditions of that area. That means they're able to maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and require a lot less fuss than non-native species. (Think how much money that would save, and how much less run-off there would be!) And because of this, a well established native ecosystem is better able to fight off invasive species.
2. They're excellent sources of food & shelter for wildlife
Let's face it--everywhere around us is developing, and fast. Every time I turn a corner, more land is being cleared and homes are going up. Where does the displaced wildlife go? If we use native species in our landscaping, we can provide shelter for those insects and animals. And since those animals are native as well, they've evolved along with those plant species! Ideal habitats for our ideal wildlife. Even domesticated livestock flourishes well on native grasses used for foraging, and its perennial nature ensures its return at little to no cost.
3. They bring back the pollinators
The loss of our native fauna and flora has driven out our native pollinators. Unlike flowers, we can't pick some up at the local store. Pollinators are specially adapted for their environments and they count on it to provide the trees and flowers that they need. Native grasses also provide excellent nesting areas for birds! Native flowers also attract a greater variety of butterflies, hummingbirds, and songbirds.
4. Beauty, duh!
Non-native plant species are high-maintenance. That means you'll need to devote a longer amount of time and resources (read: money, water, labor, etc) to keeping them alive and contributing to the beauty of your property. But by planting native species as part of your landscape, you are creating a unique a space with unique regional character. Native species are available for all types of properties: wet, dry, shady, sunny, woodland, and meadow. They come in a variety of sizes, colors forms, and textures that flourish at all times of the year. Bonus beauty: the more native species your property is home to, the more rare or uncommon species will visit.
This spring, we will begin offering a few unique options for our customers!
Native plants. We got them started, and now you can enjoy them! The species were specifically chosen to attract native pollinators to your property throughout the growing season.
Native Wildflower Pollinator Seed Mix. A fun mix of perennial native wildflower species that will add a variety of color, texture, and size to your wildflower garden! They were specifically chosen as flowers that are native to this area. With varying bloom times, you'll get color throughout the blooming season!