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Gardening with Native Plants and Local Resources

Gardening with Native Plans and Local Resources

May 4, 2022

When weather forces gardeners to stay indoors, treat yourself to some great resources about native plants and others well adapted to our region. While virtual learning won’t cure a severe case of spring fever, consider some books and tech tools to enhance decisions benefitting our personal landscapes.

Our landscape at the Colbern Road Library Center in Lee’s Summit features over a dozen native shrubs and perennial grasses. A former landscape designer and instructor, I enjoy talking with Library visitors about gardening and can identify any unfamiliar to you. My home landscape includes over 50 species! Can you identify either this red tubular native perennial or caterpillar (not a monarch, but a….)? *If stumped, find my answer at the end.


My recent book display at the Colbern Road Library Center highlighted titles about native plants, sustainable gardening, attracting pollinators and other beneficial wildlife, and foraging for wild edibles. Use your MCPL Access Pass (Library card) and the Libby by Overdrive app to access eMagazines like Garden Gate, Horticulture, Mother Earth News, and Grit.

Be selective in choosing electronic resources. Rather than randomly browsing videos and websites not focused on our local climate, soil, species, and techniques, focus on those tailored to the lower Midwest and greater Kansas City area.

Try printed copies or eBooks such as Native Plants of the Midwest by Alan Branhagen (former director of horticulture at Powell Gardens), Midwest Foraging by Lisa Rose, and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard by Douglas Tallamy.

Native plants display by public computers.jpg

About 10 years ago, I attended Tallamy’s amazing lecture in Kansas City based on his book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. Watch a recent recording of it from the “Tending Nature” symposium at Ohio State University (plus other video clips featuring this influential author).

Available on streaming video in MCPL’s Access Video On Demand online resource, I found a segment from one of my favorite PBS gardening shows: “Say No to Exotic Invasive Plants” on Growing a Greener World (episode 717, Native & Invasive Plants & Certified Wildlife Habitats). Host Joe Lamp’l also interviewed Douglas Tallamy in episode 1008.

PBS- Growing a Greener World video image (002).jpg

After a sunny day working in the garden, get off your feet and explore some websites I recommended in classes I taught for landscape professionals and in community education:

Finally, this article from National Geographic Kids really conveys the perfect encouraging message: “Wildflowers: Seek Adventure! Go Outside! Have Fun! Find What Blooms Beyond Your Backyard!” MCPL has a digital copy to access online.

Take a few field guides with you to help identify unfamiliar plants or try the mobile app “Seek!” recommended by many nature-loving friends.

*The mystery photos from my yard are native wildflower Indian Pink and Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

Leah B.
Colbern Road Library Center

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