Photo: Carrie Lamb

Native Gardens of Excellence

Created 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 gardens and landscape plantings selected and showcased in this program are not limited by size, scope, or professional involvement. 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. 

We encourage 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.

If you would like to nominate a native garden or landscape in the lower Midwest for inclusion in this program, please fill out this nomination form.

The development of the Grow Native! Native Gardens of Excellence program was supported via funding from the Missouri Department of Conservation in FY2021.