Native Plant Gardening Adventures (by Kathleen Bazkur)

It was Paul LaPorte, featured speaker at the 2023 Warkworth Lilac Festival, who stated an impassioned, yet attainable message: build the diversity of your garden by adding a few native plants. One doesn’t need to replace all the plants that aren’t native, but even increasing by a few plants helps.

I increased my native plant inventory that day with Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea). This year, I introduced Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana), Wild Bergamont (Monarda fistulosa) and Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). They’ve joined long-standing favourites, Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

The benefits of native plants are numerous. They’ve evolved and continue to evolve in our soils and climate, so there’s a greater chance of hardiness and success, they attract and support a diversity of pollinators and are beautiful. The birds and insects in our garden have never been happier. And, we’ve been happy knowing that we’re attracting a greater number of birds and insects.

This year, at the 2024 Warkworth Lilac Festival, featured speaker Sean James presented an informative and entertaining talk on layering the native garden. Trees, shrubs and understory plants can create an even more attractive and diverse ecosystem, mimicking a forest margin where great diversity is found. At the moment, we have native shrubs and plants throughout the garden. I can’t wait to create a segment of our garden that is native from top to bottom.

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