Many people are now aware of the issues with invasives species. They want native alternatives for their homes, gardens, and parks. Yet, when the average consumer goes to a garden center to buy a native plant, such as our state tree the red maple, chances are that tree came from plant material collected and/or grown many states away. In fact, this red maple tree could be a genetic clone or hybrid cultivar. Often these “native” plants don’t provide the same ecological function in our ecosystems.
Federal, state, and town programs and diverse private and non-profit parties are engaged in habitat restoration projects every year in Rhode Island. Thousands of plants are bought and installed to rebuild natural habitats that have been damaged or destroyed by road building, illegal dumping, or natural disasters, or where old built features such as dam ponds, runways, or trash dumps are being decommissioned and returned to a natural state. Yet the supply of appropriate plant material rarely meets the need and you can easily find examples where “native” plants used in a restoration are conspicuously wrong even if they are the right species.
What if you could go to your local nursery and buy a plant that was grown from genetically diverse, wild seed collected in Rhode Island…in other words a true native. You’d have options whether you were a homeowner who wanted to improve, not hinder, wildlife habitat in the back yard, a landscape architect who wanted to deliver a distinctive installation for a valued client, or an environmental engineer who wanted to solve old problems without creating new ones.
That’s the idea behind Rhody Native.
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If you’re a nursery industry professional, attend a free workshop series put on by the University of Rhode Island, in cooperation with the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey through a Northeast SARE grant. Workshop participants will share experience and best practices for native plant propagation, diversifying and strengthening the skills and capability of the Rhode Island industry. Workshop Schedule.
Sign up for the Rhody Native e-news and get the latest on volunteer events (seed collection, transplanting, planting demonstration gardens), workshops, and plant sales. To sign up, contact Vanessa Venturini (Vanessa “at” uri.edu).