Earth Day. Spring. April Showers. They all prompt us to think about gardens. The daffodils and tulips are blooming. So are the forget-me-nots. Lilies, hostas, and other later blooming varieties are making their presence known. Where are the native plants? If you’re lucky you might have some blood root or Virginia bluebells blooming, but maybe there aren’t any natives in your garden. This is a year to remedy that.

Why should you mix some natives in with the other plants you love or devote a corner to them? We all have read that bees and butterflies, including the Monarch, are having a difficult time. Our love of vast mowed lawns and non-native plants have disturbed their habitat and food sources. They have evolved with and thrived on the original plants that have grown in this area for hundreds of years. The plants we introduce may not provide them with the nutrients they need. For many insects non-native plants might as well be plastic. Planting some natives will help the bees and butterflies thrive.

Eliminate or at least limit your use of pesticides. Bugs may not be your favorite things but most of our bird species rely on them to feed their young. Without an adequate supply of bugs, we won’t have birds. Spraying our gardens with pesticides threatens the bugs we don’t like but the birds need and it threatens the bees we need to pollinate our fruits and vegetables as well as the flowers we love. Neonicotinoids, commonly called neonics, are a very popular insecticide used by many nurseries that furnish big box stores such as Lowe’s, Meijer, and Walmart. This insecticide has been  implicated in Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. Buy your plants from local nurseries who can tell you what or if they use insecticides and herbicides.

Where can you buy native plants? The Hidden Savannah on Van Kal off M-43 is the closest nursery but you can find others by looking on line at the Michigan Native Plant Producers Association. They can also recommend the best plants for your garden. Make 2017 the year you help the bees, bugs, butterflies and birds and plant some natives in your garden.

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