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Emily in the garden at Fiddlehead Creek Nursery (Source:  FC Nursery)
Emily in the garden at Fiddlehead Creek Nursery (Source: FC Nursery)

Going native in the garden means tracking down the right North Country plants

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Gardeners are sort of like small-scale environmentalists. They create gorgeous little habitats that are often havens for birds and insects.

But gardeners can also cause a lot of problems, by using too many chemicals and by importing non-native plants.

There's a movement in the North Country to fill out lush and beautiful gardens with native plants.

Supporters say local alternatives are hardier -- more pest- and drought-resistant. Brian Mann visited a local plant sale in Keene and has our story.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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  Local is proving more than just a buzzword these days--folks are not only trying to eat local, but plant local too. As Brian Mann found out, gardening with native plants has some pretty important benefits. It works to prevent the spread of invasive plants and is good for native wildlife.

Carol Treadwell, head of the Ausable River Association, knows what it's like to combat invasive plants. She's dealing with cup plant, a garden plant that has made its way down the east branch of the Ausable River.  "It is native to the Midwestern prairies," says Carol, "so I think that's why people think it's native cause its a United States native but it's not native to New York."

Though they add color and texture to a summertime garden, non-native plants that become invasives can wreck havoc with local ecosystems. The good news? Gardening with native plants can be just as beautiful--and it costs the same.

"A lot of people think gardening with native plants means gardening with weeds. It by no means does," says Emily DeBolt, who participated in a plant sale at the Keene Farmer's Market. She's just opened a brand-new nursery in Washington County called Fiddlehead Creek that specializes in native plants.

"We have all the colors, all the heights. You can garden for four seasons of interest. You have spring ephemerals, you have early summer, late summer, a lot of the shrubs have great berries and fall colors--and then we have winter interest. You have everything that gardeners or landscapers want while still using native plants."

The hardest part about gardening with native plants is their availability. That's where Fiddlehead Creek comes in. Emily began the nursery in order to eliminate the dearth of native plant availability in the North Country. "You had a lot of groups doing a lot of work about protecting the Adirondacks, removing invasive plants. It was just like, why don't we have any native plants here?"

The farmers market teems with energy as Emily describes sweet fern, a green-yellow plant with long, intricate leaves. As summer heats up, hopefully North Country gardens (complete with native plants) are teeming too.

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