In the warmth of the growing season, my garden is humming with life. A dizzying array of native bees, swallowtail butterflies, skippers and fritillaries, click beetles and praying mantises, buzz and flutter and float and swoop and hop and creep, along with a host of insects I can’t begin to identify. For the first time, there are monarch caterpillars. Planting butterflyweed brought these endangered beauties to me.

Someone wise said, “If you plant them, they will come.” And they do. American goldfinches are common visitors to the seed heads of hollow Joe-pye weed. Ruby throated hummingbirds sip nectar from the cardinal flowers that I plant just for them. Our North American sparrows feast on the ripe seeds of IndiangrassNew England aster and orange coneflower. I have invited nature into my garden by simply adding plants that originally evolved here: native plants. It’s like there’s a party going on.

A monarch butterfly nectars on golden rod (Solidago spp.).
A newly emerged monarch butterfly.

Reasons to Add Native Plants to Your Garden:

  • native plants provide food and shelter for our wildlife
  • natives are essential for sustaining biodiversity
  • our insects, including butterflies, require native plants for reproduction, for survival
  • a majority of our birds depend on insect protein and fat for their reproduction
  • planting natives will help prevent intrusion of invasive, non-native plants
  • correctly sited natives need less water and less harmful fertilizers and pesticides
  • choosing natives will help save our natural heritage for future generations

Updated April 9, 2016