by Meg Voorhes
An option of special note for Takoma gardeners seeking native plants is Bona Terra. Bona Terra’s nursery is in Friendship, MD, a 75-minute drive away, but it also has a Washington, DC, office and pickup location.
Like a number of local and online native plant sellers, Bona Terra offers native plants in a variety of sizes, including plugs, but unlike some of the competition, it does not require customers to order a full flat (typically 32 to 50 plugs). It also offers 1-quart, 1-gallon and 3-gallon pots of many shrubs for gardeners who need to fill in space more quickly.
Gardeners who already know what native species they’re interested in can skip the visit to Friendship and simply order online. Bona Terra staff, as they ferry between their nursery and their garden design consultations in the DC area, will bring your order to the DC office, if you prefer, for pickup.
But that’s not all. Bona Terra is dedicated to providing not just native plants, but their local ecotypes–the plants with “the local genetics necessary to restore diversity in the Chesapeake eco-region.”
Bona Terra places a priority on gathering seeds from wild plants within a 100-mile radius from Washington, DC, and hopes to offer 100 percent local ecotypes by 2029. It does not offer cultivars of native plants: it says that cultivars “have been transformed into often unrecognizable forms compared to their original species”—much as chihuahuas no longer resemble wolves—and can no longer serve the same ecological functions.
Bona Terra also has a strong commitment to educating and working with local neighborhood, garden and environmental groups. It is in the midst of a pilot project in 2023 to grant an aggregate one million seedlings of 60 native species to local groups and organizations. Successful applicants—and FONTT is one of them—will receive training on dividing, repotting and planting the seedlings they have reserved.