Five additional sites have been inducted into the Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program, which showcases native landscaping styles in the lower Midwest. The five new sites are in Missouri and include locations in Marthasville, Jackson, and St. Joseph, as well as two in Greater Kansas City. These join the 20 sites in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Illinois that have been inducted into the program since it launched in 2021.
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 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 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 newly inducted gardens:
— Bridge Space (Lee’s Summit) demonstrates a native plant garden in a very small area that serves as a focal point outside of a creative and collaborative multipurpose space. The garden has a beautiful sea of star tickseed and Pennsylvania sedge accented by indigo bush and a ground cover of roundleaf groundsel. Formal but with an element of wild, the star tickseed is allowed to go unhindered during parts of the year, appreciated by both animals and humans.
— Peers Store Pollinator Garden (Marthasville), on the Katy Trail, provides tens of thousands of visitors a year a look at native plants and how powerful they can be in transforming a landscape. Visitors can see a prairie reconstruction with a variety of native plants, like rattlesnake master, sideoats grama, and slender mountain mint, that support wildlife and beautify the surroundings.
— The Purpose Garden (St. Joseph), with its mixture of native wildflowers, shrubs, grasses, and trees, demonstrates that native plants are the perfect way to create an inviting outdoor space for a community organization. The garden, sited at a facility dedicated to strengthening community and open to all regardless of the ability to pay, invites use with a water garden feature, a stone wall, a concrete patio, picnic tables, a shade sail, and a Little Free Library, and it educates visitors of all ages and backgrounds about the beauty and benefits of native plants.
— Remodel Moore Garden (Kansas City) provides a vibrant green space consisting entirely of native plants in a very hardscaped area. The garden is formal, with pathways, a water feature, sitting area, and fire pit, and includes native shrubs, grasses, and herbaceous perennials that are maintained with wildlife in mind. Many bird species have appeared at this planting as well as pollinators, and by providing food, water, and shelter, sites like this are crucial for wildlife traveling through or living in urban areas.
—Taylor Twins Memorial Garden (Jackson) has two pathways — one of bark mulch, the other of flagstone — that represent Lucille and Louise Taylor, the sisters the garden is named for who grew up in Jackson and were very different, but always connected. The pathways wind down the length of the garden along which benches are placed for visitors to sit and enjoy the space, where they will see a variety of native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, trees, vines, and sedges, as well as the wildlife that is attracted by them.
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 of the 25 sites at the Native Gardens of Excellence web page, which also contains a link to the Native Gardens of Excellence nomination form.
Grow Native! plans to induct additional sites as Gardens of Excellence each year.