In Westchester, many homeowners are experiencing the joys of native plants for their gardens, without hiring expensive professional landscapers. You can become your own native plant gardener with just a few introductory classes and advice from local native plant experts.
Where to find native plants: You can find the perfect native plant for your garden with a little preliminary research using the online state-by-state native plant database maintained by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center. Say you’d like to create a yellow and purple border with perennials about 1- 3 ft. tall, but you just have only partially sunny beds. The site lets you do a combination search in New York State for those particular flower features.
Once you have a few native plants in mind, head off to the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, which is hosting its annual native plant sale this Saturday April 28th, from 10 AM to noon. The Center is dedicated to helping Westchester residents design gardens with natives. It provides online lists of recommended plants for local homeowners, including plants for shade or sun, along with lists of invasive plants and weeds to avoid. And there are demonstration gardens and instructors to help you.
Where to learn more: Besides the Native Plant Center, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx offers a wide range of classes on native plants, including the upcoming May courses on Native Flora in Spring and Gardening with Native Plants.
An excellent and inspiring resource for native gardening is the award-winning book and website, Bringing Nature Home, by Doug Tallamy. It’s a call to action for gardeners all across the country to use native plants to protect our ecosystems and promote biodiversity. So dig in!
Photos courtesy Native Plant Center.
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.