Springfield Garden Club Horticulture Education Chairman and Master Gardener Janet Dolder is passionate about native plants.
“It is not unusual for gardeners and landscapers to label any plant that wasn’t intentionally planted as a weed that needs to be eradicated,” she said. “There are so many beautiful native shrubs, trees, perennials and groundcovers that will easily adapt to growing in our backyards. It only takes a little research and a presentation or two with an expert … to get started.”
The garden club’s October program, “Why We Care About Native Plants” is just such a presentation. Featuring Dan Jaffe, it will take place Friday, Oct. 16, at noon via Zoom.
Jaffe is a well-known horticulturist, propagator and landscape designer. He earned a degree in botany from the University of Maine and an advanced certificate in Native Plant Horticulture and Design from the New England Wild Flower Society. He is currently the staff photographer, horticulturalist and propagator for Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary in Monson.
During the Zoom meeting, he will discuss how to select and combine the right species for specific site conditions and how this community-oriented approach can be applied to plantings of all sizes. Participants will learn how to create healthy, resilient plant communities that are beautiful and ecologically vibrant.
Questions for Jaffe, co-author of “Native Plants for New England Gardens” — which features his photographs — will be accepted through the chat function of Zoom and will be answered in real time.
“It’s time to reestablish native plants in the urban landscape before it’s too late,” Dolder said. “As more space is developed, the ground becomes covered with concrete, lawns and exotic, hybridized shrubs and perennials, starving native vegetation of its natural habitat. In turn, insects that have evolved alongside those plants and adapted their diets to the native plants’ pollen and nectar also starve, and the birds who counted on those insects to feed their young are becoming extinct.”
Most of the plant materials garden club members use in their arrangements are found in their yards and gardens, so there are natives included. “While you could make an arrangement from all natives, we generally use a mix for variety,” said Mary E. Bandouveres, garden club publicity chairman. “Using natives in arrangements is a fun benefit of growing them. You can beautify as well as benefit the environment. In addition, as this is their ‘native’ land, native plants can be easier to grow than some imported ones.”
She particularly likes using milkweed in her arrangements. “It’s not the most flamboyant plant, but it is the only food a monarch caterpillar can eat. So, the survival of the monarchs is dependent on the availability of milkweed plants. And they are easy to grow,” she said.
For Dolder, the vibrant colors from native maples and oaks, with a groundcover of goldenrod, wild aster and native ferns, are a reminder that “fall in New England is one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
Current Springfield Garden Club members will receive information