Wanted: Useful Plants for Lathrop Landscaping

Wanted: Useful Plants for Lathrop Landscaping

By Barbara Walvoord

At Lathrop, new plants are always being installed and old plants replaced. Imagine that you are interviewing new plant candidates for your garden or other landscaped areas around you.

Today’s candidates include two alien plants that evolved in Asia but are currently found on both campuses (burning bush [Euonymus alata] and daylily (Hemerocallis ‘stella d’oro’] and two native plants that evolved in New England and are currently planted by a few residents in their cottage gardens (native highbush blueberry [Vaccinium corymbusum] and native butterfly weed [Asclepius tuberosa], a member of the milkweed family).

Interviewer:  Do you look beautiful, and can you be kept looking neat?   All plants:  YES!

Interviewer: Do you need lots of water, herbicides, and fertilizer?  All plants:  Nope, not a lot.

Interviewer: Birds, bees, and butterflies are in decline.  How can you help them?Aliens (Burning bush and daylily):  Our berries feed birds.

Natives: but our berries are more nutritious for North American birds.

Aliens: Our nectar and pollen feed adult butterflies.

Natives: But we support the whole butterfly life cycle, including the larvae (caterpillars). And the caterpillars we support are the main food source for the nestlings of 96% of North American terrestrial birds. Choose aliens, and you will reduce both butterflies and birds.

These scientific findings are presented in the video “Hometown Habitat” being shown this month at various times/places at Lathrop, and in the 3-page article at  http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/0218consmag4web.pdf.  Go to p. 25.


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