You probably know the Greenburgh Nature Center best for our animals – the animal museum, the barnyard, the raptors, even the wild animals in the forest — all delight visitors and help our naturalists teach about biodiversity and sustainable living.
Now let’s focus on plants! Plants are the first link in the food chain. Don’t all animals eat plants or other animals that eat plants? Without native plants, most species of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals native to our region would be deprived of critical food sources. If we are passionate about the natural world, shouldn’t we be paying more attention to plants?
Over the past several years, the Nature Center has recognized the urgent need in our community for more native plants to support wildlife. We decided we should begin in our own backyard.
Our first project was the Native Wildflower Meadow. What was once a weed-infested field is now a glorious highlight of our landscape:
What was once treacherous tumble of rock in front of the Manor House is now our lovely staircase and native garden:
And just this summer, a community group was inspired to plant a spectacular Pollinator Garden, full of native flowers and grasses, right at the edge of the Great Lawn:
The impact of these gardens was immediate. Greg Wechgelaer, our Director of Education and beekeeper, noticed that honey production in our beehives increased by over 50% the first season after the Meadow was planted. In addition, the Meadow has become a place for learning and for contemplation.
The butterfly population on the grounds has exploded, and children are finding monarch caterpillars right next to the Manor House steps.
So, now we are talking about plants: what we should plant and where, which plants are best for home gardens, which plants should be avoided, and how everybody can add native plants to our landscapes for the benefit of nature.
Follow this blog to see what is happening on our grounds each week. We will feature specific plants, tell you where to find them on our grounds, and give you tips for how you can grow them, too. We are eager to share what we have learned, and to hear your questions and ideas.
And come take a look around! There are wonderful plants to see right now, and in every season that follows.
This blog will be authored weekly by Cathy Ludden, local expert and advocate for native plants and Board Member, Greenburgh Nature Center.