Popular author and scientist Doug Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope) has a new grassroots initiative afoot this season: Homegrown National Park. The idea is that we can all plant a small section of native plants at home and enjoy the wildlife that comes to partake of food and shelter.
This does not mean that we’re going to advocate throwing out your ornamental plants from other regions of the world! Instead, we will plan to gradually integrate natives so that they become a larger percentage of the total landscape. Doug likes to see natives at 80% of the total plant population, including overstory trees.
We at PBOG have been following Doug’s work for many years. His concept of providing more habitat for our native birds and pollinators by providing them with the most beneficial foods from native plants has resonated deeply. We like the idea of less bare ground covered with plain old mulch. We’d rather see layers of helpful vegetation beneath shrubs and continuous bloom or foliage throughout various spaces in your yard.
In 2021, we’re keeping track of the number of square feet of former lawn, neglected areas, or other bed space that we convert to native plantings. We’ll be updating this at the website, www.homegrownnationalpark.org where others around the country are doing the same.
I asked our Designer, Deanna Jayne, to speak about the whys and wherefores of her design process with native plants:
Q: Where do you start?
A: I ask a lot of questions, such as “How do you like to live in this outdoor space?” It could be an expansive vista, a cozy room, or something in between. And it’s good to know if the client wants to explore, relax or be active out there.
Then I think about how the space can complement them and the local flora and fauna as a community. Natives can be used to attract rare butterflies, grasses blow in the breeze, and shrubs provide nesting habitat and brilliant fall color.
Q: What are some of your favorite native plant combinations?
A: Echinacea ‘White Swan’ or Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflower) with Asclepias tuberosa – the true orange color of the butterfly weed really shows off the orange cones of the echinacea, and they complement each other with their different heights.
White wood aster with brilliant green ferns growing near a tree’s bark.
Tall blueberry shrubs with lower blueberry shrubs in front.
Q: What can we plant in a very dry shady area that will attract pollinators?
A: Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, fragrant and loved by all
Wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana, is the third-best pollinator plant in New England. Mix with our Plant Pick, Carex pensylvanica, for a stunning look.
Grey birch, Betula popuifolia, is host to many butterflies and moths and the most drought and shade tolerant of all birches.
To arrange design work, please contact Deanna <firstname.lastname@example.org>