How important are native plants to our gardens and landscape?
Native plants play an extremely important role in our local ecosystem. A native plant is one that has, with its pollinators, grown in our region for centuries, at least as far back as the arrival of Europeans. As we have developed the land, we have shrunk the areas in which native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees can grow.
Native plants provide the nectar and the pollen for adult insects to eat, and the shelter and the leaf food for insect larvae. There are few plants from other parts of the world that are suited to maintain our native insects.
Growing native plants does not mean that you must have a ragged and weedy-looking meadow in your yard. No, no. Not at all. Native gardens can be planned and orderly, with paths, neat edgings, and other features, just as any garden might. Plants can be arranged by height, color, bloom time, shape, or another ordering principle.
Here’s out to proceed: You can start by planting between your existing plants and replacing plants that have died or become boring. Natives can be effective as specimens or in mass plantings. As a goal, larger gardens are better. It is desirable to have patches of one species about four feet square or the equivalent to give the bees and butterflies a target they can find when searching for food.
There are a series of events this spring to educate people about native plants. Organized by The Ridgefield Garden Club, Caudatowa Garden Club, and other groups, “Bee” On the Pollinator Pathway: Bring Bees, Butterflies and Birds to Your Yard, Wednesday, April 18, 7-9 pm at the Ridgefield Library.