Audubon selling native plants to benefit wildlife

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FALMOUTH — Native plants may have strange-sounding names, like lanceleaf tickseed or ninebark, but they all have benefits for pollinators and for maintaining Maine’s overall biodiversity, according to Eric Topper, Maine Audubon’s education director.

Fall is the best time to plant perennials and Maine Audubon is hoping that local gardeners will turn to native plants for their landscaping needs. To that end, the nature store at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth has a variety of native plants for sale.

Plants on sale now include trees, shrubs and flowering species like seaside goldenrod. “We even sell Pennsylvania sedge, which is a native alternative to the exotic grasses used in most lawns,” Topper said.

He said planting natives is critical because “throughout our developed landscapes … the natural ecology has been compromised or altered in ways that threaten” the environment. “If we love Maine birds and lots of other wildlife, we have to make sure we have native plants.”

He said Audubon carefully curated the native plants being offered in order to provide ones that most benefit wildlife, but are also easy to grow and provide interest and variety.

“Landscape function, (such as) providing shade, diverse bloom times and colors (and) winter interest, is really important to us,” Topper said. “We also want to celebrate the cultural and historical significance of plants that are edible, medicinal, used for dyes and were important to Maine’s Wabanaki” tribes.

Overall, Topper said, “We hope this initiative broadens all of our thinking when it comes to what we plant and how we steward the habitats in our yards. We’re confident that those who do will get hooked on learning and doing more.”

The nature store at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm in Falmouth is continuing to sell native perennial plants this fall. “If we love Maine birds and lots of other wildlife, we have to make sure we have native plants,” said Eric Topper, Audubon’s education director.

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