LAST UPDATED 5/16/22 with a Northport-based landscape design company and a classic sourcebook for Long Island Native Plants…
Ah…gardens… While I never have enough thyme and ever find I have much to learn, I endeavor to tend to my own in the most ecologically-beneficial way possible. I find the whole experience deeply therapeutic, both physically and emotionally; a way I can make a positive difference in the world while also finding a bit of solitude and fresh air. A few years ago now, I started reaching out to friends and collecting resources. This is developing into quite a catalog that we are very pleased to share with you!
Said Melissa Boo – The Empowering Environmentalist “Wouldn’t it be nice if your landscaping took care of itself? When we use local, native plants in our landscaping, we’re working with nature instead of against it. These plants have adapted to the seasons, conditions, and soils of Long Island, so they require much less care and attention than imported or exotic species. Plus, native plants boost our homes’ bioproductivity.
Plants that have evolved in our region provide valuable ecosystem services to the plants and animals in the surrounding environment – from pollination, to habitat, to rainwater management, and of course, food. Landscaping with Long Island’s native plants saves you time and energy as a homeowner, and creates a beneficial ecosystem around your property.”
There's an App for That
I’ve had great success identifying local and invasive species with apps like PlantNet and iNaturalist, and then wrestling the invasive species who’d best go out of the Earth until I was too tired to do it anymore. Another that one of my favorite biogeneticists recommends is Picture This.
The reward has been a tremendous amount of fresh air, healthy stress sublimation, and a yard full of gorgeous asters, goldenrod, wild raspberries and delighted pollinators!
Fantastic Local Resources
Blossom Meadow is a small farm in Southold NY focused on growing premium berries, making award-winning jam, and raising mason bees. Knowing that “native pollinators pollinate 2-3 times better than honey bees and that more complete pollination of a flower results in higher yields and higher quality berries,” they “maintain a tract of grassland and natural areas throughout the farm for native pollinators to live, follow organic growing principles, ensure multiple flower species are blooming throughout the growing season, turn off the lights at night (moths pollinate), plant multiple cover crops a year, and no longer keep honeybee hives.”
Drop Seed Natives is a comprehensive organization founded by a passionate, well educated, highly resources native Long Islander. They offer a full range of services, including design and planting, native plant sourcing, garden maintenance and native plant garden consultation to support the surrounding ecology. From Butterfly Gardens to Songbird Gardens and everything in between, they are ready to work with you at whatever level you want them to create a vibrant, living ecosystem right outside your door.
Go Native Long Island Run by a group of Master Gardeners, park stewards and highly motivated Long Islanders who are concerned about the overwhelming growth of non-native invasive plants that are out-competing our native heritage and diminishing the value of our rich and complex ecosystems. All of them have a love of native plants and a passion for working to conserve and foster biodiversity both on Long Island and throughout New York State. They started this blog to share their ideas and experiences, and to create local connections.
Green Inside & Out offers diverse consulting to help detoxify your life and tread more lightly on Mother Earth, including organic landscaping resources.
KMS Native Plants LLC is another fantastic local resource. Kimberly has been cultivating natives for over 20 years. Her “Native Plant Pickup Yard” is open to the public, featuring more than 60 varieties of native plants to browse and purchase. Excellent blog.
Long Island Native Plant Initiative (LINPI), an all-volunteer cooperative effort of over 30 non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, nursery professionals, and citizens. The mission of this organization is to protect the genetic integrity and heritage of Long Island native plant populations and thus biodiversity from a landscape to genetic level, by establishing commercial sources of genetically appropriate local (ecotypic) plant materials for use in nursery, landscaping, and habitat restoration activities.
**NEW** Long Island Native Plants for Landscaping: A Source Book by Karen Blumer Written in 1990, this is now one of the classic “sources on Long Island for environmentally sound and beautiful landscaping alternatives”
Long Island Natives is the largest source for native plants on Long Island. LI Natives is a division of Country Gardens Nursery, a wholesale nursery operation established in 1947, located on the southeastern shore of Long Island, NY.
North Fork Environmental Council has hosted some really great webinars on organic landscaping and lawn care that you can find on their YouTube page. Some topics include “Why Go Native?” with Robin Simmen, “Attracting Pollinators to your Garden” with Laura Klahre, “The Importance of Native Trees,” with Brian Smith and “Organic Lawn and Landscaping Practices” with Beth Fiteni and Skip Wade
Northport Native Garden Initiative tells us on their website that, “In the fall of 2020 the three founding members, Nicole, Matt and Sara, came together to coordinate a garden through an ‘Adopt a Corner’ program in Northport, NY. When they reached out to the community they were met with overwhelming enthusiasm and support and realized there was an opportunity to make a difference on a greater level as a not-for-profit organization. And so this became the Northport Native Garden Initiative, a 501(c)(3) located on the north shore of Suffolk County, Long Island. Since our founding in February of 2021, we continue to provide the community with educational opportunities, public garden spaces, and thousands of native plants.”
Rewild Long Island is a wonderful group of folks whose “mission is to work with communities, local organizations, and government entities on Long Island to improve biodiversity and climate resilience through sustainable landscaping practices such as native plantings, regenerative gardening, composting, reducing lawn chemical use, protecting waters, as well as seeking alternatives to gasoline and chemical powered landscaping.”
**NEW** Sara Mairéad Landscape Design. A co-founder of the Northport Native Garden Initiative, Sara has found a passion for landscape design. Her focus is on fusing an artful expression with sustainability, guiding clients in a mindful pause to consider the benefits of particular plants and to design spaces that achieve aesthetic goals, while supporting sustainable practices. While she’s happy to make any yard more environmentally sustainable, she really loves “hard to plant spots and hard to find plants,” and is becoming something of a specialist in woodland areas. Email her at email@example.com or call 585-943-5416.
82 Sustainable Gardening Tips from Mother Earth News, “the most popular and longest-running sustainable-lifestyle magazine.”
Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening from Rodale’s Organic Life, “an online handbook for living naturally in the modern world, a vivid chronicle of friendly, authoritative information about global cooking, gardening, design, wellness, and travel.”
Ecological Landscape Alliance. Said a landscape architect friend, “They are taught by the top professionals and have a focus on exactly what you are interested in. Their newsletter is GREAT…sign up! I went to a class two years ago at Prospect Park in Brooklyn – the material is so respected that my firm sent me there to collect new info and bring it back to the office.”
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website and I’ve worked with the group on one of my projects.
Native Plant Trust, formerly The New England Wildflower Society, was founded in 1900 as the nation’s first plant conservation organization. It remains the only one solely focused on New England’s native plants, and offers tremendous resources for anyone who cares about native landscaping. Their “Garden in the Woods in Framingham Massachusetts, just west of Boston, is a world-renowned, 45-acre native plant botanical garden.
Claudia West is an amazing writer on how to best structure plantings in order to produce a lush and healthy landscape. She’s absolutely the best. She has collected all the old German texts on plant spacing and layering and translated much for her work.
Just a Few Local Parks
Friends of Hempstead Plains The Hempstead Plains is the last remnant of native prairie grassland that once covered 40,000 acres of central Nassau County. Today, as a result of commercial development only a few acres remain. The site is considered highly ecologically and historically significant. The Hempstead Plains supports populations of federally endangered and globally rare plants among its 250 different kinds of vegetation as well as several plant species that are now considered rare in New York State. It represents one of the most rapidly vanishing habitats in the world, along with scores of birds, butterflies, and other animals that are vanishing with it. Among resources, they have a page dedicated to native plants.
Nature Conservancy — Long Island Chapter From the national organization’s website, “Founded in the U.S. through grassroots action in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has grown to become one of the most effective and wide-reaching environmental organizations in the world. Thanks to more than a million members and the dedicated efforts of our diverse staff and over 400 scientists, we impact conservation in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners.” Here is a listing of their local preserves.
North Shore Land Alliance is a not-for-profit land trust formed to protect and preserve, in perpetuity, the green spaces, farmlands, wetlands, groundwater and historical sites of Long Island’s north shore for the enhancement of quality of life and benefit of future generations.
The Land Alliance’s designated area reaches from the southern boundary of the Northern State Parkway to the shore of Long Island Sound and from the western boundary of Nassau County to the western boundary of Brookhaven Township. A few of their propertiess include the Shore Road Preserve located at 95 Shore Rd. in Cold Spring Harbor on the North Shore of Long Island. This 8 acre preserve is a former ExxonMobil fueling site turned thriving grassland with shoreline. This beach is an important nesting site for horseshoe crabs. Their Cordelia Hepburn Cushman Preserve is a 15.5 acre mature oak-tulip tree forest preserve on Route 25A in Oyster Bay Cove filled with mountain laurel and pink lady’s slippers. Relatively free of invasive vegetation, it is home to a number of New York State-protected species.
Ongoing Projects at Caumsett State Park “Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve a 1500-acre property located on Lloyd Neck in the Township of Huntington, New York consists of several significant ecological communities. In 2010 the Caumsett Foundation and the NYS Parks Regional Environmental Office initiated a 30 acre grassland restoration project and a comprehensive approach to best control invasive plants. The purpose of this website is to provide land managers with on-going information on Caumsett’s projects.” Explore a variety of efforts to restore native plants and remove invasive species at Caumsett State Park in Lloyd Harbor.
Lovely Local Social Media Communities
The Huntington Gardeners Facebook Group is a warm and friendly corner of the internet that’s helped me find cool stuff like grow lights that neighbors no longer needed, and to understand how best to tend to all sorts of things, including overcoming my well-earned terrors of ticks and poison ivy while learning a great deal about my home and the creatures I share it with.
The Long Island Native Plant Gardening Group on Facebook was formed “to discuss identification, knowledge, and passion for native plants. More specifically to discuss the inclusion and proliferation of native plants within our residential landscape and the benefits that come with them,” it has grown to become a really wonderful resource. They welcome folks from all of geographic Long Island who will share their garden, pollinators, beneficial insects, and of course any wildlife that is also benefiting from the planting they’ve created. Their moderators are highly knowledgeable and deeply experienced.
North Creek Nurseries offers top quality starter plugs to retail & wholesale nurseries, garden centers, mail order and landscape professionals. From new varieties to tried-and-true favorites, ornamentals to treasured natives, we offer a full range of horticultural and Landscape Plug™ sizes to help growers succeed and ecological designs thrive. We specialize in perennials, ornamental grasses, ferns & vines with an emphasis on Eastern US natives.
Gary’s Perennials has mostly bare root material. Perennialmarket.com, the largest wholesale perennial catalogue online, is a division of Gary’s. It serves professional growers and landscapers by offering a full range of high quality plugs at the lowest possible price, featuring a remarkable depth of variety from classic favorites to the scarce and rare. Their plants are conveniently organized into separate lists of ferns, grasses, perennials and shrubs for quick and easy reference.
Thank you so much to all who have contributed, including Sara Abbass, Danielle Alexander, Melissa Boo, Dr. Kate Creasey Krainer, Elissa Ward Kyle, Beth Fiteni, Larry Foglia, Anthony Marinello, Anne Salmon, Kimberly Marie Simmen, Barbara Wildfier.
Know of one you’d like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know! Thanks!