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When Planning Your Garden This Spring – Think Wild!

Spring is a time when thoughts turn to warmer weather and gardening. Spring is also a time for new beginnings, and this year maybe right for a new approach to gardening. If you’re looking for something that is good for the environment, beneficial to local wildlife, easy to sustain, and still maintains “curb appeal” gardening with native plants might be for you!

Native plants have evolved over thousands of years and have adapted to the weather and soil conditions in the area. When you use plants that are native to the natural habitat of the area you live in, your garden will require less watering, less fertilizing and no synthetic chemicals compared with a garden containing non-native species. This means more money in your pocket and more time spent enjoying your garden. Native plants offer a variety of colours and textures, nectar for butterflies and bees, food for birds and habitat for wildlife.

The key to gardening with native plants is to base your garden on a habitat model already found in nature, and to match your plants with that habitat. Some typical habitats for native plant gardens are: woodlands, meadows, prairies and wetlands. For example, if you have a shady garden, the native plants to choose from are the native woodland plants that grow in forests around your home.

One way to determine which native plants to choose is to explore “wild” areas in your neighbourhood. Discover what plants grow together as part of a healthy plant community. You’ll see when plants bloom, when they produce seed, what wildlife they attract, learn which plants naturally grow together, and get ideas on grouping various plants together. In addition, many resources are available to you online and in the Burlington Public Library to assist you in determining which plants are native to your region, and how to plan a healthy and attractive garden.

All plants have specific requirements, but many native plants are suitable to a variety of conditions. For the beginner, it’s best to start with easy, adaptable plants and as your confidence grows, you may consider expanding your garden to include more unusual species. Some species you may want to start with include; Purple Cone Flowers, Black-eyed Susan’s, and False Sunflowers, Wild Bergamot, and Mexican Hat Flowers. All of these plants will thrive in the Burlington area, are tolerant to drought, and do well in most types of soils. Always remember that a garden is forever a work in progress, and the joy of gardening is just as much about the journey as it is the destination!

If you are interested in this and other approaches to Organic Gardening please join the Sustainable Development Committee as they welcome Marjorie Latimer, Ontario Master Gardener for a free seminar to be held at the Burlington Central Library on Tuesday, April 10th at 7:00pm. Call 905-639-3611 ext 133 to register.

This article was prepared by the Sustainable Development Committee, a volunteer citizens’ advisory committee to Burlington City Council. Go to the city website, www.burlington.ca and click on “Boards and Committees” for more information.

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