Some Sources of Native Plants in 2020

Seaside Goldenrod and nectaring Monarchs on October 3, 2018, at Cape May Point, NJ. Native goldenrods are KEYSTONE SPECIES (115 different butterflies and moths use them for egg laying in the Mid-Atlantic region). Read Doug Tallamy’s book, Nature’s Best Hope to understand how important Keystone Species are in your landscape.

Once hooked on wildlife gardening with native plants, it can be a real challenge to find native plants.  Yes a few have been mainstreamed, and the nursery down the street may carry them.  But beware of cultivars of native plants.  Cultivars are plants created or selected for specific characteristics such as early blooming or color, often at the expense of nectar, berries (the plants may be sterile), and sometimes even the leaf chemistry is changed so the plant can no longer be used as a caterpillar plant.  We (wildlife gardeners) want the nectar, the berries, and we want the leaf chemistry intact so our butterflies can create the next generation!

Be careful too that your plants are Neonicotinoid free.  Neonicotinoids are systemic (get into every part of the plant, including pollen, nectar, even dew) pesticides that are applied to many commercially-available nursery plants and are harmful to bees, caterpillars, moths, and butterflies.

Educate yourself about Neonics by reading the following:

  1. Xerces Society’s  Protecting Bees From Neonicotinoids in Your Garden (includes list of products that have neonics in them)
  2. Xerces Society’s How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees, the Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees (in-depth study, 2nd Edition)
  3. Xerces Society’s “Neonicotinoid Movement in the Environment” POSTER (how neonics move through the landscape and are being found even where they were not used)
  4. American Bird Conservancy’s  Neonicotinoid Insecticides Harm The Little Creatures, including how 90 percent of food samples taken from Congressional cafeterias contain neonicotinoid insecticides (highly toxic to birds and other wildlife) .

HUGE IINSECT DIE-OFF / INSECT APOCALYPSE

  1. A car “splatometer” study finds huge insect die-off
    Nov. 13, 2019, by Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, The Guardian
    Measuring how many bugs fly into car windshields might sound silly. But to scientists predicting an “insect apocalypse,” the numbers are deadly serious.
  2. Insect apocalypse’ poses risk to all life on Earth, conservationists warn        Feb. 12, 2020, by Damian Carrington, Environmental Editor, The Guardian

BIRDS ARE VANISHING

  1. “Birds are Vanishing from North America”
    The number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 2.9 billion, or 29 percent, over the past 50 years (1970-2019), scientists find (Science, 2019).
  2. “A Neonicotinoid Insecticide Reduces Fueling and Delays Migration in Songbirds,” by Margaret Eng, Bridget Stutchbury, Christy Morrissey.  Science, 13 September 2019, Vol. 365, Issue 6458, pp. 1177-1180.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Here are just a few of the things that each and every one of us can do:

  1. Plant NATIVES
  2. Leave fallen leaves on the ground: they are full of insect life, they protect tree and shrub and perennial roots, they break down and naturally nourish your soil, and they prevent erosion
  3. DO NOT USE Pesticides (including Organic) or Herbicides or synthetic Fertilizers
  4. Turn outdoor lights OFF at night (use motion sensor lights instead)
  5. Remove as many invasive plants as possible on your property
  6. Share some of your native “Chocolate Cake” perennial divisions (that are also Keystone Species: Asters and Goldenrods, for example) with others to help get them hooked
  7. Read and give Doug Tallamy’s books (Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope) to family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors
  8. Share all this with your neighbors, friends, co-workers, family

Some Sources of NATIVE PLANTS: 2020
by Patricia Sutton
click here for the 4-page printable pdf

3rd Edition (4-24-20)

The Meadow Project (“Urban and Suburban Meadows” and “Hometown Habitat” by Catherine Zimmerman) shares an excellent state-by-state “Find Native Plants” link, with many additional sources of native plants.

Be sure to also check with your state’s Native Plant Society to see if they have a list of nurseries that carry native plants.  The Native Plant Society of NJ’s Native Plant Nurseries list includes the percentage of natives that each nursery carries, so you can readily see which nurseries you can let your guard down in and which you need to pay sharp attention.

To help people find the top ranked plants in their county Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, is working with National Wildlife Federation on their Native Plant Finder website.  In browsing this site, there are many, many plants for my own area (Cape May County, NJ) that I have been promoting for years and know to be TOP ranked plants that are not yet included . . . so keep checking back and realize that this is a work in progress.

NJ Legislation Addresses INVASIVE PLANTS

Purple Loosestrife and other invasives are commonly sold at nurseries throughout New Jersey

Hi Gang,

Have you called your legislators yet?

Have you called your legislators yet about this desperately needed legislation to address invasive plants in NJ?  I e-mailed each of mine (I live in District 1) via the legislative website and DID NOT get an acknowledgement.  Others told me the same, that they have not heard anything back.  So, I wrote snail-mail letters to each of them and called their local office today (December 4, 2018).  When I asked the office staff about my concerns not being acknowledged, I was told  that sometimes they get 100s  or 1000s of e-mails and letters and do the best they can.  Let’s hope that those 100s or 1000s of e-mails and letters they are receiving about this bill are from those of us concerned about the growing, selling, and planting of invasive plants and not from the nursery trade and Farm Bureau pleading economic hardship!  If you haven’t contacted your legislators yet, it might be best to call and write via snail-mail (rather than e-mail).  Let’s DO THIS!!!  Details below.

November 28, 2018 — my 1st post about this:

I am writing to you about some key legislation that New Jersey desperately needs regarding the regulation of invasive plants.  As a wildlife gardener and native-plant-enthusiast, the overwhelming abundance of invasive plants spreading through protected lands – plants that are still being sold at nurseries and big box stores and being planted by landscapers – is almost too much to stomach.

Two bills have been introduced to the NJ Legislature and will be discussed this term concerning the sale, distribution, and propagation of certain invasive plant species in New Jersey.  In addition, each bill allows the Department of Agriculture to expand the list in the future to include invasive plants not yet listed.  Also, each bill would require better labeling of invasive plants – so that consumers are warned.

Our legislators need to hear from us that we support these bills in order for these bills to have a chance to move forward and become law.  They are essentially the same bill:

NJ Assembly Bill 4460 (sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr. of District 7, Burlington)  – Click HERE to see this bill.  To TRACK this bill’s progress go to the NJ Legislature page for this bill and click “TRACK” (the 7th box under the bill name).  Here is the LINK to TRACK this bill.

NJ Senate Bill 3086 (sponsored by Senator Linda R. Greenstein of District 14, Mercer & Middlesex)  – Click HERE to see this bill.  To TRACK this bill’s progress go to the NJ Legislature page for this bill and click “TRACK” (the 7th box under the bill name).  Here is the LINK to TRACK this bill.

398 Invasive Plant Species in Cape May County

Cape May County, where I live, is the county with the highest number of invasive plant species in New Jersey with 398 species (found on thousands of sites and continuing to spread).  Cumberland County has 292 invasive plant species spreading across the county.

These scary facts are from the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, which maintains EDD Maps (early detection and distribution mapping system) that show real-time tracking of invasive species occurrence.  You can look up the number of invasive plants in your own County HERE .  At the top of the page select “plants (only)” then scroll to the bottom of the page to see the list county-by-county.  If you live in another State, select your State at the top of the page.

The spread of invasive plants is impacting our natural areas, wildlife dependent on those areas, native plants, wildlife dependent on native plants, and the very integrity of our protected lands and of our state.

On my own ½ acre property I have to remain vigilant to stay ahead of English Ivy, Burning Bush, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Honeysuckle, wisteria, Tartarian Honeysuckle, and many other invasives that are seeded in my yard by resident and migrating birds that have eaten their fruits elsewhere.  As a long-time wildlife gardener and educator I am knowledgeable enough to recognize invasive plant seedlings.  Heaven help others who are not as informed and are frequently victims, as their properties become more and more smothered by invasive plants.

Nurseries are not policing themselves; instead they are growing and selling highly invasive and problematic plants to unsuspecting members of the public and making the situation worse and worse by the day.  The same is true for landscapers, who are heavily utilizing these invasives.   Since the nursery trade and the landscape trade is acting irresponsibly, it is time for checks and balances to push these growers, sellers, and landscapers to be more mindful of our natural environment.

Horror Stories

I have heard horror stories from many of you over the years.  Share your personal story when you write to your legislators: (1) whether it is a back-breaking, long-term fight to keep Bamboo or English Ivy or another invasive out of your yard that keeps straying from a neighbor’s yard, (2) a landscaper you hired to put in a butterfly garden of native plants who charged you a fortune to instead plant a garden of invasives (identified as invasives by a friend after the fact), (3) or, one of my favorites, a landscaper you hired to put in a wildlife habitat of native plants and instead they planted invasives; when you questioned why they didn’t plant native plants, they said, “What?  These are native, they’re everywhere!” proving they didn’t have the knowledge base to take on the job in the first place.

Protected Lands Overrun With Invasives

Wisteria smothering a Nature Conservancy preserve in Cape May County

I take a walk nearly every day at one or another of the preserved lands near where I live: the Cape May NWR, a Nature Conservancy preserve, or one of the state Wildlife Management Areas.  The spread of invasive plants at each of these areas is so disturbing that I feel like I need to take clippers along.  I fear that the land managers are overwhelmed and have given up.  And who could blame them?  The very same invasives that are spreading across the lands they manage are still being sold in nurseries and planted on adjoining properties.

The ecological damages done by invasive, alien plants are far larger than most of us realize:  fewer pollinators, fewer birds, some bird species winking out (N. Bobwhite for example), outcompeted native nectar plants and native berry-producing plants, less healthy habitats, uglier landscapes, and impenetrable lands.

What You Can Do To Help Move These NJ Bills Toward Law:

  1. Identify your State Senator and two Assembly Members here: Find Your NJ Legislative Representatives (click on underlined text to follow link)
  2. Write snail mail to both of your Assembly representatives and your State Senator (or, BETTER, phone them!) to ask that they sign on as co-sponsors. (It’s too early to urge them to vote.) Add a reason or two why you care about the bill in your own words.    ****  To those of you who live in District One, your support can have special impact!  Your Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak is Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, where the bill is up for discussion this term.  (District One:  all of Cape May County; and Corbin City, Estell Manor, and Weymouth Township in Atlantic County; and Millville, Vineland, and other municipalities in Cumberland  County).   As Chair, it is probably inappropriate to ask Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak to co-sponsor the bill, but you can certainly urge him to push the bill forward through his committee and to the Assembly.

Thank you for caring about the natural world and its health.  And thank you if you have already reached out to your representatives!

You can begin your letter to the two Assemblymen in your District, “Regarding NJ Assembly Bill 4460, I am writing to express my strong support for this bill and to urge you to co-sponsor it.” ****

You can begin your letter to the Senator in your District, “Regarding NJ Senate Bill 3086, I am writing to express my strong support for this bill and to urge you to co-sponsor it.”

Please share this with others who are as concerned as you are by the unchecked sale, planting, and spread of invasive plants across New Jersey.

Thank you!

Pat

Monarch Garden Tours: Sept. 19, 20, & 21

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Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed in Pat Sutton’s garden August 25, 2014

At the peak of Cape May County’s world-famous fall Monarch migration, tour diverse gardens that have hosted Monarchs since May. Each features native nectar plants and as many as five different kinds of milkweed (used by Monarchs for egg laying to create the next generation). Expect Monarchs and other butterflies, Monarch eggs, caterpillars, and maybe even a chrysalis. The complex Monarch migration will be both explained and enjoyed.

I’ve worked with 18 garden owners to line up this set of Garden Tours.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see a fine selection of wildlife gardens with lovely stands of MILKWEED: Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Whorled Milkweed, Purple Milkweed, and Tropical Milkweed. The annual, Tropical Milkweed, will be in bloom.  Most of our native perennial milkweeds have already bloomed, but their robust leaves still pull in mating and egg-laying Monarchs well into the fall, as our local Monarchs create yet another generation. These gardens are coming into their fall attire, which will be as stunning as the summer garden, yet completely different.

2014 TOURS OF PRIVATE MONARCH GARDENS

10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 19 — Mid-County Tour, including amazing gardens along the Delaware Bayshore in North Cape May and Villas
Saturday, Sept. 20 — North Tour, including Pat Sutton’s garden and other gems from Cape May Court House north to South Seaville
Sunday, Sept. 21 — South Tour, including gardens south of the Cape May Canal

Expect these gardens to also be hosting lingering hummingbirds, butterflies, caterpillars, stunning native plants, and undoubtedly some surprises. Fall migration will be underway, so anything’s possible.

TOUR DETAILS AND PRICING

Gardening naturalist and author, Pat Sutton, leads these tours, which include her own garden in Goshen (North tour). Bring lunch since the group will eat in one of the gardens.
Limit: 25 per tour.
Three Tours / Cost per tour: $35 members (NJ Audubon), $45 nonmembers.
(Join three tours at a discounted rate of $90 members, $115 nonmembers.)
These tours require preregistration with payment.

Registration: you may register by phone at 609.898.8848 with a credit card or send payment to the Nature Center of Cape May, 1600 Delaware Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204 (noting which tours and full names, addresses, and phone numbers of registrants).  NCCM reserves the right to cancel programs, and refunds are available only if NCCM cancels the event. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Become a member of NJAS and receive discounts in the gift shop and on many programs.