Despite a snow-covered ground and chilly temperatures, ISN staff are hard at work preparing for the upcoming field season - including planning workbees, coordinating potential treatments, and soon, hiring new survey technicians. There is no rest for the weary when it comes to combating invasive species.
ISN is also excited to announce the launch of its new website. The address remains unchanged but the look is entirely different. We hope this new set-up, combined with the ability to search the site, will allow for a better understanding of the work ISN does and provide more clear answers to your questions. As always, you can still contact us directly or report any invasive species to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN).
Read on below for event dates, highlights from the world of invasive species, and news about the expansion of Go Beyond Beauty. We look forward to working with you in 2017!
Jeanine Rubert is co-owner of Pine Hill, a two-part nursery and landscaping business located in Traverse City and Torch Lake. A current participant of Go Beyond Beauty, Pine Hill is a fantastic resource for all of your gardening needs. Visit their website to learn more and read on below to hear a bit more from Jeanine!
What is the mission of Pine Hill – do you have a focus that will be a special draw to customers?
The main mission here at Pine Hill is to help people be successful gardeners, no matter what their experience level. Our tag line says it all, though: Growing a better world, one garden at a time! That is our primary focus, because how can we grow a better world if we poison it in the process? We do this by promoting sustainability in the garden. Among the tenants of sustainability are limiting lawn size, irrigate efficiently, prune conservatively and use native and appropriate non-native plants.
Why did you join Go Beyond Beauty?
We joined the Go Beyond Beauty campaign because it fits in perfectly with
our own beliefs.
On a personal (or business) level, why do you think people should transition to native/non-invasive gardens?
There has been a learning curve even for us, so we understand that our customers are learning too. I have always been a proponent of gardening where you are, so the use of natives is a natural extension of that belief. As we learn more about the plight of pollinators and loss of habitat for wildlife, it only makes sense that as gardeners, we do our best to help by making choices that not only provide beauty for us, but food and habitat for them! It’s easy to get in the rut of planting only what is familiar and widely used and available, so it has been fun and rewarding to help our customers think in a new and creative way when helping them choose plants for their landscape.
What is your favorite native plant and why?
It’s very hard to choose just one plant as my favorite, so I’ll mention a few. Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly weed, is one of my favorite perennials. I love the bright orange flowers and its tough nature. Serviceberry, Amelanchier, is one of my favorite native trees because of its 4 seasons of interest, flowers in spring, followed by berries in the summer, wonderful fall color and smooth bark for winter interest. I also love Ilex verticillata for those brilliant red berries in the winter! I am a big fan of Bearberry, Prairie dropseed, Little bluestem, Joe-Pye-Weed and Wintergreen. I could go on, but you get the picture!
Did you know that October and November are among the best of times to plant native seed mixes to expand habitat for wildlife?
Home is a great place for habitat.
It is a joy to walk outside and discover birds, butterflies, and other wildlife just outside the front door, and it’s good for the health and well-being of children to have the opportunity for independent play and discovery in nature. So how do you get started?
Put simply, your goal should be more land with more native plant diversity.
Most all flowering plants sustain pollinators to some degree, however native plants also sustain more insects that feed on plants. Those insects in turn feed most other living creatures.
The more native plants you have, the more insects you’ll have. The greater diversity of native plants you have, the more cool, unique insects you might find. Part of why many plants introduced from elsewhere in the world become invasive is because we did not import the insects that eat them, and so they are less constrained in their growth. The National Wildlife Federation offers additional tips for improving habitat quality at home, as well as a certification program.
So all that matters is that I use plants from Michigan?
Well, not exactly, but native to Michigan is a good starting point. To understand the complexity, consider planting one native cardinal flower in the middle of Detroit, miles away from any other similar plant. What are the odds that any insect will find this lone plant, especially with all the obstacles of traffic and buildings in the way? Look around you at your nearby native plant communities, and explore whether you can plant a community at home that reflects and connects with neighboring communities. Even if you live in the city, you may be lucky enough to have natural corridors like streams or rivers that connect your backyard to nearby natural areas. For the long-term, you might explore whether your neighbors have an interest in creating habitat in their own yards to help build connections, or whether your community might have an interest in modern development techniques that expand habitat connectivity.
Great! I’m ready to plant.
Ten Steps to a Successful Planting
Our friends at the Michigan Wildflower Farm offer ten easy steps to prepare your site for an October/November planting. Remember when purchasing your seed mix to buy from a nursery that does not include invasive plants in the seed mix (watch out especially for baby’s breath and dames rocket). Look for seed that was harvested from plants growing as close to your planting site as possible. Check with the nurseries that have committed not to sell high-priority invasive plants as a part of the Go Beyond Beauty program.
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