Why a Native Garden Contest in Towson?
Green Towson Alliance is holding this contest to encourage our neighbors to grow native plants, shrubs, and trees in their yards. These are defined as plants that have been growing in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States since before European settlement.
Why is this important? Native plants, shrubs, and trees are vital to the food web that supports our local ecosystems – which include the butterflies, moths, and bees that are pollinators – as well as the songbirds and other wildlife that share our communities.
Bees drink nectar and gather pollen from the flowers in our yards.
Butterflies and moths also depend on nectar, and nearly all butterfly and moths can only lay their eggs on the plants they have co-evolved with for thousands of years.
These eggs become the caterpillars that feed birds.
No insects – no baby birds!
The Towson Native Garden Contest will celebrate the many Towson area gardens that contribute to the health of our local ecosystems.
Any gardener who lives in a community that considers Towson to be its downtown, and incorporates native plants, trees and shrubs in their yard. An entry can be a specific garden bed, or the whole yard. Gardeners should be working towards a goal of having mostly native plants, trees and shrubs in their yard. It’s fine if this goal is an aspiration, rather than fully realized. If you love to garden with native plants, please enter the contest!
Community gardens that include native plants are eligible to be entered in this contest. These can include play areas for children, as well as walking paths, trees and shrubs, and garden beds.
how to enter the contest
The Native Garden Contest will open on June 14, with entries due by the close of business on July 1.
There will be a link for a submission form here on June 14. Gardeners will be able to upload photographs of their garden or yard, and will be asked these questions:
1. When did you start planting natives, and why?
2. How did you choose your plants?
3. What are your favorite plants, trees or shrubs?
4. What species are you trying to support in your garden or yard?
The Green Towson Alliance Homegrown National Park Workgroup members will visit the gardens and announce the finalists on July 16. Finalists will be presented to the public for an online vote.
Winners will be announced on Monday, July 26. This website will be updated regularly.
Information about the Towson Native Garden Contest can also be found on our Facebook page and Instagram.
Questions? You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
What Native Plants Should I Grow In My Yard?
There are many wonderful and beautiful native plants, and because they are used to the growing conditions here in Maryland, it’s easy to find native plants that will fit into your yard. An online search will help you figure out which plants would thrive in the conditions in your yard.
Nuts for Natives
Shari T. Wilson, the Maryland Secretary for the Environment from 2007 to 2010, loves native plants and has set up this great website on what native plants should go in your yard, and where to buy them. This website lists plant names, and nurseries where you can find them.
The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
The center is located in Texas, but has a database of all the native wildflowers in the United States. In this website, you can find a selection of plants by entering the state, your growing conditions, and when you want the plant to be blooming.
But… I have deer in my yard – are there native plants that deer won’t eat?
Yes, there are native plants that aren’t on the deer menu. This article by the Ecological Landscape Alliance has some great suggestions with a list of native plants.
I’d like to replace the introduced plants and trees that are already in my yard
Many folks are surprised and unhappy when they realize some of the trees, shrubs and plants in their yard are introduced species from outside the United States. Some of these introduced plants have become invasive. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has this great list of native trees, shrubs and plants that would be good replacements for the invasive species in your yard and garden.
Where Can I Purchase Native Plants?
Herring Run Nursery is located right in Baltimore and has a wonderful selection of native plants. Please check out their website to see hours of operation and how to order plants.
A list of other nurseries can be found at Nuts for Natives.
Learn More About Native Plants!
Check out our list of Recommended Reading: books and articles about why it’s so important to grow natives plants, trees, shrubs and grasses in your yard and your community.