Native Plants Make Good Neighbors
What’s a good way to beautify your property, benefit the environment, and make gardening easier? Choose native plants!
Native plants – those that are indigenous to an area – are suited to local soil and climate conditions so thrive naturally and require less water. Natives also control erosion, clean the air, and support wildlife. Butterflies, for example, need certain host plants native to our region in order to reproduce.
The National Wildlife Federation provides an online Native Plant Finder where you can see which flowers, grasses, trees, and shrubs are most beneficial for your yard. The Audubon Society features a native plant locater that displays which plants are best for birds in our area.
As we learn more about the value of native plants, we may need to choose more carefully when shopping at garden centers.
The Audubon Society explains, “Unfortunately, most of the landscaping plants available in nurseries are alien species from other countries. These exotic plants not only sever the food web, but many have become invasive pests, outcompeting native species and degrading habitat in remaining natural areas.”
In fact, recent state regulations now either prohibit the sale of many common landscaping plants seen in our neighborhood or – as is the case with others, including nandina (“heavenly bamboo’) and Japanese barberry – require the sale of these plants to be accompanied by a cautionary sign.
Some invasive plants prevalent in our region are not only destructive for the environment but can also present headaches for homeowners – such as English ivy and Chinese and Japanese wisteria, which strangle trees and make them susceptible to toppling during storms. Experts urge removal of these vines, and there are increasing volunteer initiatives in our region to combat them.
On the plus side, as public awareness grows about the value of native plants, so does the sharing of native plants among neighbors in Capitol View Park. Some residents have also cleared invasive plants from neighbors’ yards. Now that’s community spirit!
Resident Sherry Zuckerman tends her own native garden, that on the adjoining "Cohen property," and one at the Kensington library. "When you remove non-native invasive plants, it allows our native plants to flourish," Sherry says. "That in turn supports the entire ecosystem, including birds and other pollinators -- and a healthy environment overall."
"If you want to see a native garden at work, visit the Kensington library," she adds.
Nearby Native Plants Sources
Swamp Rose Co-op
Direct Native Plants
Lauren’s Garden Service
Also check the Maryland Native Plant Society for more information.