Healthy and happy neighborhoods and towns are influenced by a lot of things, one of which we do not always think about: the plants and the wildlife. With time, we have really altered our landscapes, but more and more we are learning to appreciate our native plants and are learning how to better incorporate them in our gardens in a way that can help the inner-city nature and wildlife thrive alongside us.
As Uli Lorimer, the director of horticulture at The Native Plant Trust says “We are part of nature, not apart from nature” and the native plants and animals help us to have happier and healthier lives, in terms of everything from supporting pollinators and birds to giving us clean air and water, and even important crops. Did you know that blueberries and cranberries are native to New England?!
The Native Plant Trust was actually one of the first official conservation organizations in the region, founded in the early 1900s, and settling down at The Garden in The Woods in 1960. Uli says that “The earlier founders were very much aware of habitat loss and the importance of preserving biodiversity on the landscape, even 120 years ago.” Today, The Native Plant trust has an incredible botanical garden, provides a range of educational programs about native plants in Massachusetts and the greater region, and they even have a retail native plant nursery. They are also still heavily involved in conservation, where “[the] goal is to try to keep as much habitat undeveloped as possible so there is space for all the biodiversity [found here].”
They work closely with the local community, and the greater region, to educate people about native plants, conserve natural areas, and help people to have yards that follow principles of “Ecological Horticulture” - gardens that aren’t just beautiful but also function ecologically, offering food and habitat to insects, birds, and more; which in turn helps us to live more in sync with nature. Uli says that they “hope to not just foster appreciation, but a real love for the plants of the region.”
If people aren’t too interested in learning a lot about botany, the gardens also provide a beautiful place to walk through, alone or with loved ones, to help them disconnect a bit from their busy lives and immerse themselves in nature. However, for those hoping to learn a bit more there is plenty of labelling on plants and great signage to help you learn as much as you would like on your visit.
“Whatever you are seeking, if it's information, if it’s inspiration or if it's just a way to escape from whatever your pressures of your life might be, we have a spot for you here” - Uli, director of horticulture at The Native Plant Trust
In a nutshell, there is a bit of something for everyone, but at a bare minimum we know that being in nature is actually healthy for you and feels great, so anyone can benefit from a visit. Additionally, it is an excellent opportunity to bring your children and inspire them to love being outside, and to protect our native biodiversity in any way we can.
If you want to be involved with The Native Plant Trust you can become a member - which has a bunch of great perks, volunteer with the plant conservation volunteer program, and of course do your part to create beautiful native gardens that help wildlife in the city.
So whether you are looking for native pollinator plants in New England, some neat courses and programs - for all levels of interest and experience, or just a lovely stroll through some beautiful gardens, make sure you stop by The Garden in The Woods.
Watch the interview above to learn more and visit the Native Plant Trust Website, or check them out on Facebook and Instagram for more information on any of their services or opportunities. They have some new exciting programs coming up and are always striving to help individuals and larger groups alike with urban planning and landscaping to help us better our environments in terms of native plants and wildlife.