Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants

Do it for the Monarchs

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 Mexicowhere they migrate in the winter monthsand reflects on his decision to convert part of his farmland to native plants. It's a wonderful featurewe 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 featuremilkweed, asters, and more.

Butterfly Milkweed and Nodding Ladies Tresses in the Trella Romine Prairie in Marion County, Ohio

Butterfly Milkweed and Nodding Ladies Tresses in the Trella Romine Prairie in Marion County, Ohio

Heart-leaved aster

Heart-leaved aster

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.


Digging into a Natural Spring: Our Newest How-To Book on Landscaping with Native Plants

Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants, by Dr. Frank Porter As the daughter of florist and garden center owners, this is a particularly exciting book release for me. Our newest title, Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants, is available today, and it is a striking, full-color exploration of the native plant world in the Eastern United States.

As with many things—vegetable gardening, seed saving, canning and preserving—utilizing native plants in the home landscape is certainly not a new concept, but one that is again becoming a part of the commercial plant consciousness. Dr. Frank Porter understands the ecological and horticultural needs that have precipitated the return to native plants, and explains the philosophy behind prioritizing these varieties over non-native and often endemic varieties.

While many of us grew up in a world where geraniums and petunias were the ruling flowers in any home garden, we are now encountering the many possibilities of native grasses, sedges, and wildflowers. Native plants provide an alternative to the extra effort—fertilizing, treating, cutting, and controlling—often required to keep a non-native plant alive and well. Dr. Porter shows how remarkable and diverse these varieties can be—and how easily native plants can be utilized in incorrigible garden spots. Whether you have rocky soil, low drainage, hilly property, or full shade, you will be able to identify native plant varieties that will help beautify and protect your home landscape.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium (Narrowleaf Blue-eyed Grass), Photo courtesy of Tom Barnes

Xyris Torta (Slender Yellow-eyed Grass), Photo courtesy of Tom Barnes

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Shale or Aromatic Aster), Photo courtesy of Tom Barnes

Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants is the deep breath of spring we have been waiting for. It is the promise of a more ecologically sustainable landscaping practice, the celebration of our most natural treasures, and the loving gift of a man dedicated to the beauty and health of our landscape.

For information on ordering Back to Eden, check out our online store here.

Dr. Frank Porter in our author chair

Sarah and Janice help Dr. Porter load up books for his upcoming conference!

Do you have a favorite native plant? Do you love to garden? Let us know some of your favorite garden plants and tips in the comments! We love hearing from you, and we are daydreaming of the warm, spring planting days to come.