Category Archives: Native Plants

Ready for Spring?

Even though it’s been a mild winter, about this time of year we begin thinking of warmer weather and dressing up the yard with annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees.  As you ready your yard for Spring, we offer these thoughts:

Native Be

Native Bee on Blueberry

  • Plant with wildlife in mind (this is, after all, a blog about wildlife) – insects, pollinators, birds and critters.
  • Include plants that provide nectar, pollen and food.   We’ve compiled a list of suggested perennials for your yard that work well here in Peachtree Park.
  • Plant for all seasons – aesthetics for you, and food and shelter for wildlife year-round.
  • Leave dead stems from plants like River Oats, ornamental grasses, Goldenrod, and Joe Pye Weed in place all winter since the seed heads are valuable for the birds, and hollow stems are used by small native bees.  Since we’ve started gardening this way, we’ve realized that our yard is as attractive in the winter as it is in the other seasons (see our post Brown is Beautiful).

    Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

    Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

  • Make more butterflies by including host plants for their caterpillars: e.g. Pipevine for Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars and milkweed for the Monarch butterfly.
  • Use mostly native plants when you can.  No need to be a purist, but natives have lots of advantages and there are many wonderful native plant alternatives for common non-natives.
  • Expand diversity in your yard.  The more diverse, the greater the variety of insects (food for birds) and native bees that you will attract.  And, correspondingly, the greater the variety of  birds and critters you will attract and support.
  • Reserve areas for nesting and hiding.
  • Don’t use pesticides and don’t spray for mosquitoes.  Build a healthy ecosystem and encourage nature to control pests.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - July 13, 2016

    Ruby-throated Hummingbird

    Don’t buy plants that were treated with lethal chemicals, especially neonictinoids – support local growers who know their plants’ histories.  If you live in Atlanta, there’s a list of suggested growers below.

Nearby Toxin-free Plant Suppliers :

We contacted a few plant suppliers in and near Atlanta and came up with this short list of those who get it.  That’s to say they understand the dangers of chemicals, including neonictinoids, and avoid them either by growing their own plants or screening growers for you.  These sellers are doing the right thing.  It’s good to support them.

If you shop at a big-box store, ask which plans are toxin-free.  They may or may not be able to answer your question, but at least you’ll let them know that it’s important to you.

Credits:

Thanks to  Nearly Native Nursery  for their list of native plants as alternatives for non-natives.

Hooray for Local!

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

We like to support our local growers.  You are already aware of the wisdom of buying organic food from local farmers.  The same thinking applies to ornamentals, which provide food for wildlife as well as us.

Plants that are the most likely to thrive in your yard will be grown in your area, as opposed to grown halfway across the country and shipped in.  And because these locally grown plants are conditioned to the local environment, they are less likely to have to be be treated with chemicals.  When dealing with a local owner/grower you can get direct, honest answers to your questions. For example if you are trying to avoid damaging neonic pesticides.  And you are supporting people who are doing important work in your area through conservation, restoration, education and other boots on the ground projects.

GPCWe think it’s fun to seek out Spring and Fall plant sales run by educational and conservation organizations.  They are small, staffed by very knowledgeable people, have hard to find native species, and often have better prices.

GPCOne event we like in Atlanta is the spring sale on selected weekends in April and May at the Georgia Perimeter College in Dekalb County.  You’ll know you are buying the best possible plants for your garden and the pollinators.  Make time while you are there to walk through their woodland garden area including the Ferns of the World Garden.  It’s stunning.

And GPC is only one source in Atlanta; there are many others.  We suggest avoiding Big Box growers until they change their practices and force their suppliers away from harmful pesticides.  Support local growers instead and do something good for wildlife – and yourself.