Native plants are wildflowers, shrubs, ferns, grasses and trees that have thrived in our region for many thousands of years. During that time, these plants have come to depend on native wildlife for pollination and seed dispersal, and many wildlife species have come to depend on native plants for food and shelter. Many butterfly species are dependent on just one or a few native plant species for food when they are caterpillars.
Our native plants are beautiful, charismatic species. Many were once so common that few people thought to deliberately plant them. Now they are disappearing from many places. People can help nature to thrive in built-up areas by creating habitats around their homes. Native plants are the building blocks of healthy, diverse habitats.
The plants in this book are all species that grow in wet places in the wild. The “Puddle Garden” is a rain garden, and can be planted in a place where water naturally pools and doesn’t drain. Areas for rain gardens can also be created, by directing rainwater from storm gutters to pools that are dug to contain runoff. Dug areas can retain water, but need some capacity for drainage. The idea is for the garden to infiltrate water slowly into the ground rather than having it escape as runoff. Any lawn grasses or other non-native vegetation in the rain garden should be removed before planting.
The best place to find native plants is at your local native plant nursery. Looks for plants that are “nursery propagated” (not wild collected), from seed that is local to your area. Many states have good native plant societies and these are excellent resources in finding nurseries, choosing species appropriate to your region, and constructing rain gardens or other specialized habitats.
Download our “Planting Your Own Puddle Garden” brochure for a list of additional showy native plants from the Northeast that support birds, butterflies, and other wildlife and do well in a wet landscape. You can use them to supplement the “Puddle Garden” plant palate when creating your own garden.
Our native plant nursery, Wild Ridge Plants, stocks many of the wildflowers, shrubs, and ferns in The Puddle Garden as well as some of the additional species above.