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CELEBRATE EARTH DAY (4/22/09) WITH NATIVE PLANTS
White Flower Farm Chooses Some of Their Favorites
This year marks the 39th anniversary of Earth Day. It will be celebrated all over the world on April 22, 2009. To mark the occasion, White Flower Farm (www.whiteflowerfarm.com) is focusing on native plants.
As any gardener knows, you are never alone in a garden. Insects, birds, earthworms, fungi, deer and many other creatures may visit or live among the plants and the soil. By including native plants in your landscape, wildlife will find the food and habitat it is adapted to, and needs for survival. The greater the diversity of plants, the greater the amount of life a garden may support. Native plants are also well suited to the local growing conditions.
White Flower Farm answers some frequently asked questions about native plants:
What is a native plant?
A plant that occurs naturally in your location is considered native.
How can I find out which plants are native to my area?
The US Department of Agriculture maintains THE PLANTS database (www.plants.usda.gov), which can be searched by state (www.plants.usda.gov/checklist.html) and contains maps and photographs, plus other useful information about plants. Individual states and plants societies also have information online.
Why are native plants important?
Native plants provide food and habitat for a whole range of organism that have adapted to certain plants and seek them out over all others. The monarch butterfly is a well-known example. Female monarch butterflies lay their eggs on plants in the milkweed family and as the caterpillars feed, they take in chemicals from the plants that make them distasteful to birds and other would-be predators.
Are horticultural selections of native plants also considered native?
There are many selections of native plants available, including superior forms found growing in gardens, or in the wild, or those hybridized by plants breeders. Dr. Allan Armitage of the University of Georgia coined the term "nativar" to describe these varieties and recommends that they be considered as natives for gardening purposes. White Flower Farm uses the National Wildlife Federation's more limited definition, which does not include hybrids of native species and plants propagated by tissue culture.
White Flower Farm has many native plants and shrubs available, including these popular choices for butterfly larva food plants: Asclepias, Aster, Aristolochia, Baptisia. Among the best perennials to provide nectar for adult butterflies: Asclepias, Echinacea, Eupatorium, Heliopsis, Liatris, Monarda, Rudbeckia. Shrubs that offer fruits for birds: Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly), Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry), and Viburnum. For a beautiful, low-maintenance ground cover in shady areas, try ferns.
Barb Pierson, the nursery manager at White Flower Farm, is available for interviews upon request, as are other experts.
Please contact: Deborah Broide,
Deborah Broide Publicity,
White Flower Farm is a family-owned nursery located in northwest Connecticut. Since 1950, they have been gathering, evaluating, growing, and selling a wide range of annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, bulbs, and houseplants representing the very best varieties from around the world. Plants shipped are true to name, free of disease, and in prime condition for growing. While in the area, stop by White Flower Farm with its five acres of display gardens, or visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com, where you will also find helpful gardening information including how-to videos. Join our E-mail list for gardening advice and tips, From the Farm monthly newsletter, announcement of events at the White Flower Farm Store, and special offers not in our catalogues or on our Web site.
White Flower Farm -- we make your garden grow.