Bringing Nature to the Homestead

Conservancy grounds transformed with native gardens project

Native plants – those that are indigenous to a geographic region – are essential to preserving and expanding ecological biodiversity.

In addition to attracting and supporting local wildlife like bees, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and mammals, native plants are naturally evolved in the local growing conditions and require less intervention to establish and maintain, such as fertilizer and pesticides, which helps improve local water quality.

The Black Swamp Conservancy team recently completed the installation of native gardens at our Homestead property. This project was supported by a grant from the Country Garden Club Perrysburg, which has also funded a summer internship, so we’ve welcomed Hannah LaPoint to our team to help care for the gardens and develop future programming.

Hannah, an environmental sciences major at the University of Toledo, says she’s “learned a lot about the ecological role of Ohio’s native plant species and how to identify them” and hopes to apply this knowledge to “a career in hydrogeology to create a sustainable solution to the Lake Erie algae crisis.”

The former office landscaping, which contained mostly non-native ornamental species, was removed in late 2019. The new native landscaping, achieved with the help of nursery partner North Branch Nursery, features more than 250 native shrubs and plugs, including:

  • A wetland swale featuring swamp milkweed and buttonbush
  • A sandy “oak openings” habitat including prickly pear cactus and dotted horsemint
  • Prairie species such as little bluestem, purple coneflower and dense blazing star
  • Woodland species including spicebush and cardinal flower

We also planted 11 fruit-bearing cherry trees along the driveway, providing new spring forage for the property’s resident honeybees.

Part of a larger initiative to demonstrate sustainable practices at our homestead, these native gardens will help show families how they can incorporate native species in their own yards. Other sustainable practices we’ve undertaken at the office space include:

  • Geothermal HVAC system installation in 2015
  • 25 KV solar system installation in 2018

To date, the solar array has saved more than 11 tons of carbon dioxide that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere.

We look forward to sharing these native gardens with you and will be hosting public garden tours and educational programming once we can safely gather again.