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Why Native Plants Matter, by Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

GARDEN WITH NATIVES- Why Native Plants Matter
As more and more of the land around us is developed and/or degraded, the home landscape is becoming increasingly important in the preservation of healthy, balanced ecosystems. We now know how important it is to change our perceptions and our practices in finding new ways to define the beauty we want in our yards and gardens while simultaneously preserving the natural world as it was meant to be. Therefore, we must learn to incorporate practices that preserve landscapes in their more natural states.

First and foremost, this means planting species on your property that evolved to grow there.

Plants that are native to a given locale or ecosystem evolved to coexist with all other forms of life also found there, and—along with soil type and climate considerations—form the foundation of complex food webs in which species are dependent on each other for their very survival.

Quite simply, the abundant and highly diverse native species of plants, shrubs, vines and trees characteristic of our landscape do a better job—the best ecologically-balanced job—of providing food and shelter for the many insects, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and other life forms that can, and should, be found there.

Using more native plants has many other benefits as well. Aesthetically, they can be beautiful, and many have long blooming seasons. Many native plants also have other worthwhile attributes, such as beautiful foliage or bark, attractive seed heads and striking fall color, and their appeal may cover several seasons of the year as well, including winter.

Once established, native plants may also require less water than many introduced species, and can require less maintenance, especially treatment with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They are better able to resist pests/diseases because pathogens are much less likely to inflict damage in a balanced ecosystem. Water quality and soil conditions are much improved when these toxins are kept out of the soil and our watersheds.

Native Plant Benefits:
Attract butterflies, bees and other native pollinators
Provide food and shelter for wildlife
Grow easily once established and require less water and maintenance
Reduce the need for toxic chemicals
Evolved to be in harmony and interdependent with local wildlife
Prevent invasives from gaining a foothold in the landscape
Provide beauty, delight and “sense of place.”

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