Earth First Native Plant Nursery and Gifts, LLC
With all the development taking place today, critical habitat is being lost at an alarming rate. Habitat destruction is the number one reason for species decline. You can help to combat this problem by providing a wildlife habitat on your property. The primary way to help local wildlife populations in our area is to restore habitat by providing their natural food, water, nesting and cover sources. Plant materials are first on a bird’s list. Supplemental feeders can also help, but wildlife will be first attracted to what nature provides for them. For example, one of the first plants a Ruby Throat hummingbird looks for on their northern migration is Eastern Wild Columbine. This plant blooms simultaneous with the migration times and provides nectar for their journey. Hummingbirds are attracted to plants with red, orange, purple and white flowers often with a tubular shape.
Butterflies also use sources of nectar as their food. Many of the same plants hummingbirds are drawn to are suitable for butterflies as well. In addition to nectar producing plants, with butterflies it is also important to have a larval host plant. This is the plant that the female lays eggs on and that the young caterpillars will consume as their first food as they grow. An example here would be the Swamp Milkweed, which the female Monarch lays eggs on, and the caterpillars will consume the leaves until they go into the chrysalis.
Song birds will also look to native plants for the seeds. A patch of Coneflowers in your garden will bring in the Goldfinches. Many shrubs and vines also provide berries for birds to consume. Remember to provide a source of water in the garden as well. This can be in the form of a birdbath, water garden or pond. Finally ornamental grasses or meadows provide cover and nesting material for birds. Below is a list of native plants that will help provide basic needs for wildlife.
Columbine, Bee Balm, Trumpet Creeper, Coral Honeysuckle, Cardinal Flower, Penstemons
Milkweeds, Wild Lupine, Baptisia, Spicebush, Passionflower, Goldenrod, Asters, Joe Pye Weed, Mistflower, Bonesets, New York Ironweed, Liatris, Coneflowers, Giant Purple Hyssop, Violets, Little Bluestem, Switchgrass, Beach Plum, Elderberry, Bayberry(Luna Moth), Arrowwood Viburnum(Hummingbird Moth)
Coneflowers, Liatris, Giant Purple Hyssop, Virginia Creeper, Goat’s Rue, Pokeberry, Wild Black Cherry, Sassafrass, Sumac, Serviceberry, Cedar, Blueberry, Dogwood, Holly, Beach Plum, Viburnum, Bayberry, Elderberry, Switchgrass,
Alternatives to Invasive Plants in the Garden
Today’s gardeners are faced with many choices when shopping for plants to use in their gardens. Unfortunately, some of the exotic plants being touted today as the latest must-haves are not friendly to our local ecosystems. They often escape the garden and spread into natural areas, choking out native vegetation that our wildlife depends on. The good news is that many native plants can serve as alternatives to these fashionable plants since they already serve many of the purposes that people buy these exotic plants for. Below is a list of common invasive plants and their native alternatives
Pepper Bush, Spicebush
Oriental Bittersweet - American Bittersweet
English Ivy - Virginia Creeper
Creeping Jenny - Creeping Phlox
Crown Vetch - Virginia Creeper
Periwinkle - Creeping Phlox
Japanese Honeysuckle - Trumpet (Coral) Honeysuckle
Sweet Autumn - Virgin’s Bower
Chinese Wisteria - American (Kentucky) Wisterias, Trumpet Creeper
Smooth Brome - Switch Grass
Maiden Grass - Switch Grass
Reed Canary Grass - Switch Grass
Tall Fescue - Switch Grass
Japanese Silver Grass - Indian Grass
Pampas Grass - Indian Grass
Weeping Love grass - Prairie Dropseed
Smooth Brome - Little Bluestem
Yellow Flag Iris - Northern Blue Flag, Spatterdock
Water Hyacinth - Pickerel Weed
For more information, please see "Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants" Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides
For more information, please see Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Region Guides.
Native Plants for Bog Gardens
In nature bogs occur in low lying areas near the water table where the soil is constantly moist. They help to regulate water flow from storm water, providing flood control and filtering out pollutants. The plants that occur there are naturally adapted to this high amount of moisture. If you have a low lying area or an slow draining area in your yard, this is an ideal place for a bog garden. If you don’t ,you can create one and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a good reference on how to do this. The link is
Bogs do require some maintenance. They must not be allowed to dry out or the plants will perish. In times of drought replenish water using saved rainwater or distilled water. Do not use tap water as it contains chlorine and minerals. They also require acid soil, and adding peat moss may be necessary from time to time. Since bogs are naturally low in nutrients, fertilizer is not necessary and may actually impair the growth in some plants like Sneezeweed. The following is a list of plants that work well in bog gardens. Some are carnivorous plants which do best with a mixture of a 30% sand and 70%p peat mixture. ** Indicates carnivorous plants.
Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, Blue Vervain, Sneezeweed, Swamp Rose Mallow, Marsh Marigold, Monkey Flower, New York Ironweed, Seashore Mallow,Blue Flag, Joe Pye, Weed, Swamp Milkweed, Bee Balm, Turtlehead, Jack-in-the-pulpit, Nodding Ladies Tresses, Sensitive Fern, Marsh Fern, Royal Fern, Cinnamon Fern, Ostrich Fern,
Pitcher Plant**, Sundew**
Saving water is important. Landscaping with plants that require little supplemental water is known as xeriscaping. There are seven principles of xeriscaping: appropriate planning and design; appropriate/minimal turf areas; appropriate soil preparation and analysis; appropriate plant selection; appropriate watering methods; appropriate use of mulches; and appropriate landscape maintenance. With regard to plant selection, using native plants can help you conserve water as well since many natives grow in dry areas and can survive summer droughts. The following is a list of great native plants for xeriscaping.
Butterfly Weed, Goat’s Rue, Wild Blue Lupine, Blue False Indigo, Carolina Lupine, Prickly Pear Cactus, Adam’s Needle, Stiff Leaved Aster, Showy Aster, White Wood Aster (Dry Shade), Bird’s Foot Violet, Lance Leaved Coreopsis, Hyssop Leaved Boneset, Small’s Penstemon, Foxglove Bearded Tongue, Carolina Petunia, Switch Grass, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Prairie Dropseed, Seaside Goldenrod, Slender Goldenrod, Pinelands Heather, Crane’s Bill Geranium, Liatris (sp), Purple Coneflower, Rudbeckia (sp), Spiderwort (Dry Shade), Trumpet Creeper, Rattlesnake Master
Imagine strolling through the garden on a warm, balmy summer night. The moon shines bright above and seems to light up the night-blooming flowers. The light breeze sends the scent of fragrant flowers your way. You make your way past the reflective pool, with a small fountain nearby, and take a seat on the bench, take in the smell of the flowers, and listen to the sound of the water. Here, you can relax, meditate, or just enjoy the wonders of a moon garden.
Creating a moon garden is like creating any other garden, only you focus on plants that will stand out in the moonlight. Of course you’ll want to take into consideration the plants’ needs and your conditions for best success. Choose an open area, near a patio or deck, where you can see or smell the garden, but not so close that it becomes part of that area. You want to keep it separated a bit, perhaps in a corner. If the area is open, you can create a corner feel with, white-flowering shrubs or a white fence or trellis, which also provides a great backdrop with which to grow fragrant vines. If you would like to have a path winding through, choose light colored materials such a white stone, or sand or pavers. Cedar chips can also be used. Soft solar (LED) lighting can provide a nice accent as well illuminate certain areas.
Next try to make the area appeal to the senses with plants and water features. Choose fragrant plants that reflect the moonlight. Plants with white, pale pink flowers and gray, silvery and/or textured foliage work well. Water features need not be extravagant. A bird bath or water container garden with a small pump to trickle water will do fine. You’ll want to have a place to site and enjoy your garden. If your garden is large enough, you put a table and chairs in the center. Benches work well for smaller gardens.
Your Moon garden is not just a place for humans. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself alone. Even at night wildlife may be attracted to your garden. Night-flying moths will be attracted to the garden as well. Moths have been around much longer than electric lights and naturally are drawn top the moon reflecting off of white flowers. Nighttime visitors may include Yucca moths, Sphinx Moths, Imperial, Cecropia and even the beautiful Luna Moth. The Cecropia and Luns moths both giant silk moths, lack mouth parts and cannot feed. They live only long enough to mate, so providing host plants that are used by the larva is essential.
Don’t forget about winter interest. Winter interest plants have interesting seed heads or evergreen foliage that left in place makes a garden look alive in the snow. The seed heads will also provide food for songbirds during the winter months. Plants that provide winter interest, combined with the moonlight reflecting off of the snow can let you enjoy your moon garden any time of the year.
Moon garden plants:
False Solomon’s Seal,
Obedient Plant, Turtlehead, Goat’s Beard, Echinacea “White Swan, Adam’s Needle, Common Milkweed, Evening Primrose (pink species), Mountain Mint, Moon Flower, Summersweet ( Sweet Pepper Bush), Buttonbush, Snakeroot, Rattlesnake Master, Nodding Ladies Tresses, Foxglove Beard Tongue, Creamy Violet, Giant purple Hyssop. (white variety), Canada Anemone, Wormwood, Garden Phlox “David”, Viburnums, Blueberreies*, Swamp Azalea, Swamp Magnolia, Wild Back Cherry*, Dogwood*, Water Lilies