Launched on the Grow Native! website on June 29, the Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program features plantings of native plants in designed, well-maintained gardens and in other native landscape plantings in the lower Midwest.
“The gardens and landscape plantings selected and showcased in this program are not limited by size, scope, or professional involvement,” said Ronda Burnett, Grow Native! Committee Chair. “Some have been designed by landscape architects or designers while others are informal, seeded landscapes, and some are professionally maintained while others are maintained by volunteers.”
The Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence are located in a variety of settings ranging from multi-acre plantings associated with commercial properties; formal, urban gardens; and even small community plots.
All sites in this program share two attributes: each has been carefully planned and is regularly maintained. Both of these attributes are fundamental to ensure the long-term functioning and appearance of any native planting. The three goals of this program are to inspire and motivate the use of native plants in plantings—both formal and informal; to educate about their many benefits—ecological function, beauty, and contribution to sense of well-being; and to promote widespread use of native landscaping for aesthetic appeal and environmental benefits.
All Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence sites are open to the public (many are free; some charge an admission fee), consist of at least 90% native plants (excluding cultivars and nativars), and are at least three years old with an established maintenance schedule.
The Grow Native! program encourages homeowners, native plant enthusiasts, land managers, gardening groups, and landscape professionals to visit the sites included in this program in person and to learn more about their maintenance from their caretakers. Contact information is included for each site at the Native Gardens of Excellence web page, which also contains a link to a Native Gardens of Excellence nomination form.
Photo by Jeff Cantrell