Spring is here! Make 2019 the year you start transitioning your garden or yard to include more native plants and other benefits to wildlife. Maine Audubon is here to help with “Bringing Nature Home” in Maine. We will be creating blogs/emails at least monthly through the growing season to help you get started and stay plugged in.
To learn more about why native plants are so important, watch this video from Doug Tallamy.
After a few years of warm, dry springs, 2019’s mud season has kicked off some great germination, growing, and blooming thus far (not to mention the birds!). What’s blooming and/or leafing out around you? Early flowers are critical for pollinators, and new leaves host caterpillars that warblers and other migrating birds need this month.
See a list of great early plants available at the Maine Audubon Plants Sale & Festival this year mentioned in what we are seeing below. If you note that you don’t have early bloomers and leaves, let us know at the sale. You should also join us on a spring walk to see some of these plants in action in the landscape.
Save the dates for June!
- Pollinator Parade on June 1 – Deering Oaks, Portland
- Speaker Series: The State of New England Plants with Arthur Haines on June 12 – Gilsland Farm
- Native Plants Sale & Festival on June 15 – Gilsland Farm
Early leaves and blooms
In our gardens and yards, we are noticing the following plants already benefiting insects and other wildlife: maples, shadbush, and geranium are blooming, and genera like plums, ragwort, and chokeberry are getting close. We’re heartened to see the blooms of violets, Wild Geranium, and Wild Strawberry coming along next to seemingly much more common exotics (i.e. non-native) like forsythia, tulips, and daffodils around town. Besides the plants that Maine Audubon grows to sell at our Native Plants Sale, we’ve also seen the blooms of trillium and native honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis), and leaves of various ferns unfurling in their distinctive ways across the forest floor during our spring romps in woodlands around us. All of this is clear evidence that the great growing conditions are benefiting insects and other wildlife throughout Maine and beyond.
What you can do at home
While all of our seeds that we sowed last fall start to germinate, May is a great time for garden planning. We have great books available in our Nature Stores, and here is a list of our favorite links that we’re combing through to pick plants for this year: 2019 Links List
Make sure that your plan for 2019 includes:
- Planting native plants – choose plants that are native to your ecoregion, straight species (no cultivars), naturally propagated (no cuttings or clones), and naturally/organically managed (no neonicotinoids).
- Paying closer attention – review your plant, insect, and bird life cycles and learn about phenology.
- Community science (formerly known as “citizen science”)– set up a project on iNaturalist or contribute records or photos to a project near you. Join the Maine Birds or other Facebook group.