Jeremy has created a pollinator’s paradise in his Takoma Park yard. He started in 2017, reclaiming his yard from a host of invasives. He pulled invasives and mulched and kept pulling invasives for several years to reclaim his gardens. He worked in small sections at a time, pulling invasives, planting bushes and small trees and direct sowing seeds for ground cover and flowers. He considered the ecology of each area, wetter, drier, sunnier, or shadier, before selecting the natives to plant. Native plants are generally less fussy and more resilient but take time to grow.
He is passionate about native plants and a knowledgeable botanist and hopes people will realize this is an ecological process. Everything affects everything else: the soil and the water affect the plants which in turn provide for the birds and insects. Native gardening is a way to rebuild the environment and take care of the earth one small step at a time.
His biggest take away for all of us is that you can successfully direct sow the seeds for many native plants. He has followed the research at Mount Cuba and planted much of his ground cover and flowers from seeds. (https://www.prairiemoon.com/blog/germination ) In this article, Heather McCargo talks about a simple effective method to plant native seeds. ( https://wildseedproject.net/how-to-grow-natives-from-seed/)
He saves seeds and has found them very viable. This could help people with the considerable expense of native plants. He also loves the native ground covers that are short, neat, and beautiful; helping to keep out invasives from year to year. His advice for us: treat your soil well, think about your space in terms of ecosystems, and direct sow native seeds.
His favorite plants are ones that he has had great success growing from directly sown seeds and like shade, which we have in such abundance in Takoma Park. One of them is fern-leaf phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida) because it’s just so easy to grow, pollinators love it, and it looks great. Another would be American beak grass (Diarrhena obovata), which forms a beautiful fountain shape and spreads, but not uncontrollably. Another group of plants he likes are our native asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), especially calico aster (S. lateriflorum). And lastly the amazing spicebush (Lindera benzoin). Spicebush has early spring flowers, is a host to the spicebush swallowtail butterfly, has neat looking red berries in the fall that birds eat, and the smell of the foliage and berries are just amazing. It’s edible too!