Monthly Archives: August 2014

It’s Time to Plant Native Plants

“Fall is the best time to plant!” is not just a gimmicky line used by garden centers to lure in customers during September. The plants you lovingly add to your garden now can establish a decent root system and get a strong start before the onslaught of the hot summer months.

And what do you want to plant? Natives, naturally! Ultimately, strive to plant species native to your region.

Last year's Parkfairfax Native Plant Sale in September.

Last year’s Parkfairfax Native Plant Sale in September.








Where can I find native plants?

Take a stroll through our Native Plant Sales calendar. There is an exciting array of native plant sales being held – from large to small, in all regions of the Mid-Atlantic. That special plant awaits you.


Plant Natives to Feed the Birds

We can do more than this.

If you are troubled about dwindling bird populations and you’d like to help our feathery friends, you need to know a few things like this: It takes more than a bit of bird seed in the winter months.  Take chickadees, for example. They don’t eat seeds in the springtime when they are making and raising babies, they eat only caterpillars.  So where have all the caterpillars gone?


Unfortunately, our own behavior is causing the loss of habitat for caterpillars, leading to a loss of chickadees, which eat more caterpillars than you might imagine.  Think thousands of caterpillars for a single clutch of baby chickadees.  But native caterpillars need native species for their own food.  And thanks to our habit of landscaping with non-native ornamental plants the caterpillars are in shorter supply and so too become the chickadees.

If you want to attract and support bird populations all year round, start planting native species in your yard.  Chickadees won’t be the only beneficiaries.  North American bird populations have nose-dived for a variety of reasons.  A big one, experts tell us, is habitat loss.  Suburbia has created a huge negative impact by landscaping around our homes with lovely but unproductive non-native ornamentals such as azalea, privet, crepe myrtle, Japanese maple, boxwood, barberry, forsythia, heavenly bamboo, English ivy, pachysandra… plants that are native to other countries, not ours.  People don’t realize that most insects cannot feed on these commonly used alien exotics because they do not have an evolutionary tie to the plants.  If the insects can’t feed on your plants then the birds can’t feed on the insects. And it’s these insects that provide the food for our indigenous birds. Continue reading