Imagine you are relaxing in your beautiful garden, enjoying the natural beauty, the sounds, the colors, the scents. Now imagine you could do all of this and contribute to the protection of native biodiversity at the same time. You can make this happen by adding native plants to your garden.
Native plants are exactly what the name implies – plants that existed here prior to European settlement. They are important members of our forest, wetland and grassland communities.
There are native plants for all garden conditions –sunny or shady, dry or wet, windy or sheltered. Visit the North American Native Plant Society website for sources of native plants and seeds, and check-out our blog from summer 2015 and article from the spring 2015 issue of ON Nature.
Native plants are not only beautiful; they are also well-adapted to our climate condition, which means a low maintenance garden for you. Once established in the right location, a native plant garden needs less watering, less weeding and no fertilizers. These gardens can also prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, cycle nutrients and provide habitat for wildlife. Download this free guide to native alternatives to common invasive garden plants. Here’s a great guide with 19 tips on how to make your backyard bird friendly.
Many native pollinators (bees, wasps, beetles, moths and butterflies) rely on native plants. The most frequently cited example is the monarch, which relies exclusively on native milkweed plants. Monarch caterpillars ingest and concentrate the toxin from milkweed, making them unpalatable and toxic to would-be predators. The adult’s orange and black colours serve as a warning to these insectivores. View a monarch article in our fall 2014 ON Nature magazine.
Many bee populations in Ontario have been diminishing drastically in the past few years. A decline in bees could become a significant threat to biodiversity, global food webs and human health. If you have a native plant garden, you are doing your part in protecting native bee species and biodiversity in general. Ontario Nature is working towards improved protection for native bees and other pollinators. Check-out our campaign page and related articles in ON Nature magazine.
What could be better than enjoying the natural beauty of your garden, while knowing all of the benefits that native plants bring to the environment? This winter is the perfect time to think about next year’s garden. Take the plunge and make the change to native plants! Your friendly neighborhood pollinators will thank you.
Diana Troya is a biologist from Ecuador. She is honing her already impressive photography and video production skills as a student in the Environmental Visual Communications program. In summer 2015, she worked at Ontario Nature as a communications intern.