Gardening with natives

In the roughly 18 years that my gardening companion (aka my spouse Tim Spira),  and I have lived in the Piedmont, our home landscape has undergone a significant transformation, largely through planting SE native trees, shrubs, and perennials arranged in informally-arranged "habitats"  -- woodland, meadow, edges, and shrub borders, loosely modeled after regional plant communities.

This hasn't been a restoration project, but it has certainly gone a long way towards restoring the ecology of our landscape (initially inspired by Sara Stein's book, Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards), described in this post) and our own inclinations as plant ecologists.

I frequently use our experiences to illustrate points in gardening programs and classes; by simply converting lawn to woodland, adding shrub layers and borders, and increasing habitat diversity with meadow planting, we've created a wildlife-friendly garden that's reasonably ecologically-balanced, and definitely full of resident birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc.

Seeing the before images (some appear on the sidebar) always reminds me of what we started with, and how different it is today.  It wasn't welcoming at all, when we moved in, either for us or for wildlife.  A link to one of my gardening for nature presentations is on the sidebar, too.

So it was fun to have Tim (author of Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachians and Piedmont) join me on Clemson University Radio Productions Your Day gardening call-in program. The link will take you to this week's program page.

We talked about gardening with natives, regional plant communities, wildflowers, and the process of gardening for nature from an ecological point of view.  It was an interesting conversation.  Listen in for a bit (via the archived link).  I was glad that we were able to encourage some folks to add native plants to their landscapes.


  1. Cannot listen to the radio program, but CONGRATULATIONS to you for the project!


Post a Comment

I enjoy hearing from fellow nature lovers and gardeners. Let me know your thoughts.