by Connie Oswald Stofko
There are lots of reasons to use native plants in your garden.
I like them because they’re low maintenance. Because they have adapted to our climate, they can survive hot, dry summers without me having to get out the hose. They can take cold, snowy winters without any fuss, too.
Native plants attract birds and insects, which can help pollinate our plants. Native plants aren’t invasive, as some non-native species can be.
I think one of the reasons gardeners don’t use native plants more frequently is that they don’t think native plants are attractive, or perhaps gardeners just don’t know what native plants look like.
To solve that problem, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has created the Western New York Guide to Native Plants for your Garden, available for free online. A limited number of paper copies of the book are available, too. See a list of locations with the paper version, but call first to see if there are some left.
The guide is beautifully designed and contains lots of photos so you can see what the plants look like. They’re organized into categories: ground covers, perennials, grasses & ferns, shrubs, trees and vines.
The guide also includes planting plans for six different types of garden: butterfly garden, songbird garden, winter garden, shade garden, rain garden and streetside garden.
There’s another section with tips on designing, planting and maintaining your garden. It includes a list of invasive species and good native alternatives.
This is a helpful guide to use as you’re making your gardening plans for spring.
This project was funded through a grant by the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee.
Don’t forget that Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper sells rain barrels, too. Even though you can’t keep rain barrels outside during the winter (they will split when the water inside freezes and expands), I was delighted one year to get a rain barrel as a Christmas gift.