Growing Western Washington native plants in the home garden has long been a goal of many South Sound gardeners. It sounds easy. If they grow around here in the woods then it will be fine in my garden. It turns out…nothing could be further from the truth. But there are methods to get the most out of available native plants. One such method is to focus on…
Keystone Native Plants
“Keystone plants are native plants critical to the food web and necessary for many wildlife species to complete their life cycle. Without keystone plants in the landscape, butterflies, native bees, and birds will not thrive. 96% of our terrestrial birds rely on insects supported by keystone plants.”-National Wildlife Federation.
All native plants support some kind of wildlife, the “keystone native plants” support more. For instance, native willows, alpine blueberries and sunflowers have super powers and house hundreds of caterpillar species, feed countless birds and share pollen with about 50 bee species. A search for “Ecoregion 7” will give you plenty of information about keystone plants for the South Sound. It’s not just zones any more. Ecoregions have more information and research attached. So…it makes sense to have a few of the…
Native Power Plants in the Garden.
Cross referencing the information available at Washington Native Plant Society (www.wnpa.org) with the information at the National Wildlife Federation (www.nwf.org) will give you a good idea of what will grow for you and how it benefits the environment.
Many PNW native plants can be substituted for cultivated plants. The look is the same…the growing conditions are the same but your native plant choice benefits birds, bees and butterflies. Once you have a list of “keystone” native shrubs, trees and perennials for the South Sound, it’s time to find out where they will thrive. The absolute best source for placing native plants in the home garden is….
“Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest” by Kruckeberg and Chalker-Scott
Varieties of cultivated plants change year by year. Native plants stay the same.
Author Arthur Kruckeberg was professor emeritus of botany at the University of Washington. Author Linda Chalker-Scott is the “no bull” myth buster from Washington State University Extension whose books cut through all of the daily “how to” garden advice to explain the science side of misunderstood trends and false claims. Together they share well researched and scientifically based information to cut through the noise.
“Gardening with Native Plants of the PNW” is the definitive book on what to do with our natives in our own landscapes.
It gives an honest appraisal of the benefits of native plants in the garden but doesn’t give an all clear to using all native plants. Some natives just aren’t suited to urban gardens and many cultivated plants can provide the same benefits as native plants. Which native plants work and where to plant them is integral to this thorough and color photo packed third edition.
University of Washington Press, 948 color photos, 392 p. $39.95