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,…

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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…

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Native Plant Research at the Mt. Cuba Center with George Coombs

Great garden plant or garden slacker?  This is a question that the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware has sought to answer, giving gardeners and green industry professionals a helping hand in selecting native plants.  Since 2002, Mt. Cuba, has conducted native plant research in their trial gardens, examining native species, native cultivars/selections (“nativars”) and…

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20 Resolutions for the EcoBeneficial Landscape

It’s that time of year to make your resolutions for 2015.  Don’t forget to include your landscape!  Here are 20 resolutions to get you started toward a healthier ecosystem: 1) Reduce or eliminate the “Green Desert” (turf/lawn). Exotic turf grass is an ecological wasteland.  When replacing lawn, don’t replace one monoculture with another.  Plant diversely…

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A Closer Look at Monarchs & Milkweeds: Latest Information from Xerces

Milkweeds (Asclepias species) are getting a lot of attention these days since they are the only larval host plants for the threatened Monarch Butterfly.   As you may know, butterfly caterpillars have a different diet than their adult counterparts.   Most caterpillars eat plant parts, usually leaves.  Monarch caterpillars only eat the leaves of milkweeds. The Xerces…

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Honey Bee Losses for Winter 2013/2014

According to the latest survey results from the Bee Informed Partnership, honey bees fared better this past winter than the previous winter.  Commercial beekeepers reported losing 23.2% of their colonies over the winter of 2013/2014 versus a loss of 30.5% for the previous winter. This volume of loss is still not acceptable, however, with beekeepers in…

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A Bakers Dozen of EcoBeneficial Ideas for Earth Day

Give your ecosystem a gift this Earth Day with these 13 ideas that are sure to please the environment: 1) Select at least 25% of your lawn that you don’t really use.  Make a commitment to turn that area into a habitat garden by the end of spring (pollinators, butterflies, birds, etc.). 2) Comb your…

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Native Cultivars vs. Native Plants & Their Attractiveness to Pollinators

As you start shopping for plants this spring, please emphasize regional native plants that support your local ecosystem.  That sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s actually a bit more complicated.   Sometimes the only native plants you can find are native cultivars, not open-pollinated, “straight species” natives.  These native cultivars are often referred to as “nativars.”…

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