CBS Sunday Morning had a wonderful segment this weekend highlighting just how critical native plants are to the survival of the Monarch butterfly. Photographer Joel Sartore shares his own transcendent experience with Monarchs in Mexico—where they migrate in the winter months—and reflects on his decision to convert part of his farmland to native plants. It's a wonderful feature—we recommend checking it out for some spring inspiration:
Native plants are often overshadowed by the flashy, hybridized annuals (and perennials) that modern gardeners see in many commercial greenhouses: exotic black wave petunias, knock-out roses, or any of the other thousands of new varieties of garden plants that promise resilience and color. Native perennials require patience and an eye for natural beauty, but those that know how to work with them and coordinate them, love them, and they're the favorites of master gardeners. While blooming periods for native plants are often shorter than those of today's more commercial annuals, months-long color can be achieved with the right mix of plants in your landscape. Native plants also support native creatures (like bees and butterflies) and more balanced local ecosystems.
Our author Frank Porter explores the versatility and beauty of native plants in his book, Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants. And he discusses in more detail several of the natives mentioned in Sartore's feature—milkweed, asters, and more.
If you're already dreaming of spring, check out Frank's book for inspiration. Whether you're trying to find creative solutions for landscape problem spots or you simply want more context for today's ongoing discussion of native plants and animals, Back to Eden is a lovely read.