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Landscaping with native plants

If you're looking for a landscape filled with good looking, easy-to-maintain plants that are well adapted to our climate, then native plant material may be your best bet.

Trees, shrubs and flowers that occur naturally in our surroundings are, generally speaking, better adapted to local climate and soil conditions and more resistant to local disease and pests than are the more highly bred, exotic species.

On the whole, native stock requires less of your time and money to maintain -- they don't receive any extra moisture or fine manicuring in the depths of the forest! Because of their adaptations, native plants stand a greater chance of healthy, strong growth than most hybrid species.

To begin planning your natural planting, take a look around our garden centre. Our staff will be happy to show you some of the native plants listed. In addition, we have many perennial flowering plants that are local; a carefully selected group of native perennials will give you easy-care colour all season long.

Once you have chosen the native plant material for your garden, try laying them out before planting. Remember that clumps of plantings will look more natural than single plants scattered all over. For a truly natural look, try to incorporate "layers" of vegetation. By combining large and small trees, shrubs, evergreens and groundcovers, you should be able to create an attractive, yet low maintenance planting. Often the gardens that look thoughtlessly natural required a great deal of careful consideration in the planning stage.

If you're looking to attract birds, butterflies or other wildlife to your garden be sure to include lots of native plants in your landscape. Our wildlife evolved in these habitats so they are better suited to our native plant communities.

There are a number of natural gardens in Southern Ontario that you can visit for ideas and inspiration:

Ecology Park, 12 Madison Ave., Toronto, ON M5R 2S1
(A project of the Pollution Probe Foundation)

Gosling Wildlife Garden, J.C. Taylor Nature Centre
The Arboretum, University of Guelph, N1G 2W1

The Robert Starbird Dorney Ecology Garden, University of Waterloo, N2L 3G1

Naturalized Parks in North York (Contact the City of Toronto)

George W. North Memorial Wildlife Garden, Royal Botanical Gardens, Nature Interpretive Centre, Box 399, Hamilton, Ont., L8N 3H8

Evergreens
White pine Pinus strobus
White cedar Thuja occidentalis
Balsam fir Abies balsamea
White spruce Picea glauca
Eastern hemlock Tsuga canadensis

Shade trees
Red oak Quercus rubra
Pin oak Quercus palustris
Paper birch Betula papyrifera
Red maple Acer rubrum
Sugar maple Acer saccharum
Silver maple Acer saccharinum
Butternut Juglans cinerea
Shagbark hickory Carya ovata

Small trees
Serviceberry Amelanchier alnifolia
Red mulberry Morus rubra
American mountain ash Sorbus americana
Staghorn sumac Rhus typhina
Nannyberry Viburnum lentago
Redbud Cercis canadensis

Shrubs
Red Osier dogwood Cornus sericea
Gray dogwood Cornus stolonifera
Honeysuckle Lonicera
Winterberry holly Ilex verticillata
American hazel Corylus americana

Vines and groundcovers
Bittersweet Celastrus scandens
Trumpet vine Campsis radicans
Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Bunchberry Cornus canadensis

Reference: Landscaping for Wildlife, a publication by The Ministry of Natural Resource and Landscape Ontario.

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