Last year, the Mineral Area College Greenhouse purchased 4,000 plants. This year, the greenhouse only needed to buy 2,500. That’s because more native plants are being used in the college gardens.
“A lot of the natives were perennials,” said Linda Resinger. Others were annuals, but easily reseed themselves. Native plants have turned out to be a considerable cost-savings for the college and are blending in well with the more traditional flowerbed plants.
Resinger is in charge of the MAC greenhouse and oversees planting the gardens at the college. She’s also volunteered to be the landscaper for the 2009 Grow Native! Landscape Challenge.
The landscape challenge is an Earth Day Project that rethinks a portion of one St. Francois County homeowner’s lawn, replacing it with native plants. The East Ozarks Audubon Society and interested garden club members selected this year’s winner, Melba and Don Grogan of Farmington.
The Grogans have a difficult to mow bank alongside a pond. It will be replanted with something that won’t require mowing and that should thrive with minimal maintenance once established.
Using native plants can cut down on gasoline emissions produced by cutting the lawn as well as other maintenance such as watering and fertilizing. It also helps preserve disappearing plant species that support birds, bees, frogs, chipmunks and other wildlife.
“With us using native plants we haven’t had to water as often,” Resinger said. “We have had a lot of rain, but usually we are out there twice a week with sprinklers going in the beds. But with using the native plants we haven’t had to. It has really saved the college a lot of money, plus with reseeding we have cut down on the amount we need to order.”
Resinger said she would continue to use the native plants in the college beds and added they have been clearing up some of the native plant areas the college already had, revitalizing them.
“We’ve got several projects going on here at the college,” Resinger said. “We’ve upgraded the college’s tree garden up at the entrance. Where several trees had grown together, we got all that cleaned up and mulched. The project in front of the field house is going. It’s one of the main entrances to the college used for basketball games and so forth. We’re going to incorporate some shade-loving native ferns into that.”
Resinger designed last year’s Grow Native! project, which transformed a rocky shade spot where nothing much would grow into a native plant rain garden at the home of Michaelle Hall.
The year before that, MAC horticulture students created a butterfly garden near a vegetable garden at the home of Faye Worley which helps bring in pollinators.
This year’s project will be planted Saturday with the assistance of MAC Horticulture students and other volunteers. Anyone interested in participating and learning more about native plants may contact the Daily Journal at 431-2010 and ask for Renee.
The plants are being provided at cost by Missouri Wildflowers Nursery, www.mowildflowers.net using a matching grant from Grow Native!, a joint program of the Missouri departments of Conservation and Agriculture.
Renee Jean can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 117 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.