Remembering a Great Naturalist: A Toast to Carol Gracie

This past fall we lost one of the great naturalists of the Northeast, Carol Gracie.  Carol was not just a naturalist, but a botanist, photographer, lecturer, and author of four fantastic books:  Summer Wildflowers of the Northeast, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast, Florapedia, and Wildflowers in the Field and Forest: A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States (co-authored with…

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Why Locally-Sourced, Locally-Grown Native Plants Matter

Have you visited your local farmer’s market lately or picked up your weekly allotment at a CSA?   If you are a locavore, like so many of us, you might be asking some pretty specific questions of your suppliers when you are vetting your food choices, such as: Where was this food grown? How far is the farm from here? Where…

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Easy Native Perennials to Start from Seed: Economical and EcoBeneficial!

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)

Biodiversity is critical to the health of ecosystems but species diversity is crashing and getting worse in the face of climate change.  How can you help?  Skip the clones of native plants (grown from cuttings or tissue culture) and plant native seeds to increase genetic diversity to support our challenged environment. In many cases, native plants require some type of…

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Dwarf Nativars – Do They Measure Up?

For those of us with small landscapes, dwarf cultivars of native plants can seem like a gift from heaven.  Want to grow a particular native plant, but just don’t have the room?  Have a straight species plant, like a native viburnum, that needs a pollinator partner for fruit production – but you just can’t squeeze another large viburnum in your…

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Holiday Gift Ideas with a Native Gardening Twist

Enough with the ugly sweaters, run-of-the-mill Amazon gift cards, overpriced fruit-of-the-month club, and belly-bomber fruitcake!  Why not give the gardeners you love a gift that they will love?  The gift of native gardening! Here are some ideas for your holiday shopping: 1) Membership to a Native Plant Society No matter where your gift recipient lives, there is a native plant…

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Spotlight on a Great Native Nursery: Amanda’s Garden

When you are looking to buy native plants, it can still feel like the search for the Holy Grail. Take the time and effort to seek out local native nurseries that grow the regional native plants you want and that healthy ecosystems need. Skip the big box stores, and support local suppliers that care about their clients and the environment.…

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Lessons from the Smokies: Biodiversity in the Home Landscape

During a recent trip to the annual Great Smoky Mountain Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, I was overwhelmed by the incredible biodiversity of native plants and animals, interwoven in their natural habitat in the Smoky Mountains, making up one of the healthiest and most beautiful ecosystems I have ever encountered. Instead of the endless Japanese Barberry thickets I notice at home in…

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Native Viburnums and Cross-Pollination – What the Nursery Isn’t Telling You

Ever wonder why those terrific native viburnums you planted are not producing fruit?  You are not alone.  It’s one of the frustrations of gardening ecologically in a world where “cross pollination” is rarely mentioned at local nurseries or garden centers (and forget about the big box stores!).  Some plants, although deemed self-fruitful, may need a “pollinator partner” to bear fruit…

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Underutilized Native Shrubs With Big Ecological Impact

Shopping for shrubs can be a dull experience when so many garden centers, nurseries and big box stores sell the same lackluster choices.  Does the world need another forsythia, another boxwood, another sterile hydrangea?  Go beyond the ecologically-mediocre and seek out great native shrubs that contribute big ecological impact to your landscape. Here are a few worthy choices for your…

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