In recent years, interest in native plants has grown among gardeners, and there has been a corresponding rise in the availability of plants that were once hard to find. Even ephemeral parking lot nurseries feature racks of native plants from columbine to jack-in-the-pulpits. What a boon for those wishing to develop native gardens.
On their Wildlife Friendly Gardening website, linked here, the Canadian Wildlife Federation makes these points and more:
Regionally native plants are those that have grown wild in your area for many centuries. They have co-evolved with, and are therefore adapted to, the local environment and wildlife. Though many of today’s popular garden plants are imported, native plants are making a comeback for a host of good reasons:
Native plants require less maintenance. When planted in a spot that mimics their natural habitat – in terms of lighting, soil or moisture, they typically thrive with less or no need for fertilizer and watering than other plants.
Native plants are less susceptible to disease and pests, having co-evolved with their local environment.
Regionally native plants provide valuable food sources and shelter for the wildlife around them. Many domestic flowers have been bred for showiness and may have lost much of their nectar and pollen producing capacity.
Some wildlife species are entirely dependent on the availability of certain native plants. By choosing plants native to your region you help your local wildlife thrive, let alone survive.
When I visited this garden centre, I was surprised to see that some of the local wildlife couldn’t wait for gardeners to take the plants home. An American Robin had constructed a nest right in the centre of the plants! Mom was very brave, and sat tight even as shoppers walked by the stand within a foot of her. Her mate made forays to the nest to bring her meals. From her neatly hidden nest, she watched me carefully as I took her photograph from a distance. Here she is.