When we are asked about trends in the landscape industry here in Vermont, it is often mentioned that more and more clients are asking for native plants to be incorporated into their landscapes.
What exactly is a native plant and why should they be incorporated into our landscapes? Well, according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) the definition of a native plant is the following:
A plant that is a part of the balance of nature, that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region or ecosystem. Note: The word native should always be used with a geographic qualifier (that is, native to New England [for example]). Only plants found in this country before European settlement are considered to be native to the United States.
Because these plants have grown in each geographic area for hundreds of years, they are well equipped for their environment. This means that these plants tend to require less watering and general maintenance. They also tend to have less pest problems, as they have acclimated to their surroundings. Native plants attract local wildlife as well, providing both sources of food and shelter. The Nature Conservancy has put together a nice list of Vermont Native Plants.
If you are considering a landscape project this year for your home, think about using at least some native plant material. They certainly have their benefits and as Lady Bird Johnson is quoted to have said that native plants ‘give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.’