Connecticut is one the leading states for rooting out invasive species and encouraging land owners to plant more natives. Native trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers are adapted to our changing climate, interwoven in the ecology of the forests and open lands -- and provide vital food, shelter, and nesting sites for insects, birds, and animals.
Plus, many are beautiful and underappreciated landscape plants for our homes. It may be difficult to find some of these natives in garden centers and nurseries. That's why the annual Conservation District Plant Sales throughout the state are important.
It's a way to purchase these native plants -- and some improved versions -- while supporting the work the conservation districts do to conserve and protect our land.
Many of the plants have specific benefits. Shrubs, such as swamp milkweed and button bush, are attractive for pollinators. Some conservation districts offer a pollinator box kit, which includes a planter, as well as shrubs and perennials that pollinators love.
You can purchase seedlings of evergreens such as spruce and balsam fir to reforest an area, bearberry ground covers for wildlife food and to grow on poor, sandy soils, and unusual tree fruits, such as paw paws, to grow, and fruit as understory plants.
Check out the conservation district where you live for details. The deadline to order for most of these spring sales in late March and pick up is late April. They sometimes offer free classes on planting and care of natives as well. Growing native plants is important and getting them from your local conservation district is a good way to do it.
Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about globe artichokes. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.