Information on Native Plants

We have another native plant tour this Saturday May 13 from 9 to 5. See more in this article from Montclair Local and read more on my blog. For general information, the best place to turn to is the Native Plant Society of New Jersey (the host of the tour) with an extensive set of programs on growing native plants, tours, and other information.

Sources for Plants

Sadly, most local garden centers don’t carry native plants, just boring things that are either invasive or don’t thrive well. These are the places I have bought plants at. There are others. Online Mail Order (both are in NJ)

Toadshade Wildflower Farm
Wild Ridge Plants (offers curbside pickup as well)

Online Mail Order (for trays of plugs, essential for a bigger property)

Izel Native Plants

In person

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope, PA
Gino’s Nursery, near New Hope, PA
Edge of the Woods, Orefield, PA
Catskill Native Nursery, Kehonsken, NY

These two are good for trees and shrubs, have some straight species plants as well, but also lots of cultivars, particularly among herbacious plants. Avoid cultivars! I have found they don’t grow well, are often gaudy, and generally aren’t good for pollinators.

Great Swamp Greenhouses, Gillette, NJ
Rohsler’s Allendale Nursery, Allendale, NJ

Places to Visit

There are many places one can visit to see native plants, but the three that I recommend the most are Apshawa Preserve, Franklin Parker Preserve, and Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.


Apshawa Preserve is about twenty minutes away, in West Milford and was developed by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (a great organization). What distinguishes Apshawa from nearby Mills Reservation as well as Eagle Rock and South Mountain Reservations is that a deer exclusion fence was built in 2012, allowing the forest to recover from the massive overpopulation of deer that destroy native plants in this area.

Franklin Parker Preserve is in south-central Jersey, but is a beautiful example of the diversity of our state, demonstrating the vitality of the Pine Barrens. A former commercial Cranberry bog, Franklin Parker Preserve was nearly made into an airport, but luckily it preserves an incredible and rare part of our state.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, in New Hope, PA is not only an incredible nursery, it preserves acres of beautiful terrain, again with a deer exclusion fence. It shows us what we can do without an overpopulation of deer.

The New York Botanical Garden (seen here with Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden installation) has an impressive native plant section designed by Thomas Rainer (of Phyto Studio) when he was at Oehme, Van Sweden. It seems like every plant there is twice the size of the ones you normally see.  


I like to listen to podcasts while I garden. There are a number of podcasts on native plants, plants, and botany. The best of these are:

In Defense of Plants

The first podcast isn’t entirely about native plants, since its focus is global. Ph.D. candidate Matt Candeias is an enthusiastic guide to the world of botany and his obsession with plants is infectious. There aren’t many better ways to get excited about plants. Matt finds weird and wonderful topics, insightful guests from the world of botanical research, and is a top-notch interviewer. Matt also maintains a blog at

A Way to Garden with Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach has decades of gardening experience and is one of America’s most loved writers about gardening. Margaret’s podcast usually consists of an interview with a noted authority on matters such as composting, milkweed, attracting birds butterflies, native plants, as well as food, and many other topics. Not all topics are native-plant oriented, but that’s fine too. She often teams up with Ken Druse to discuss topical themes and answer questions. While the rest of these podcasts are useful sources of information, Margaret’s podcast—as well as the excellent (and newly revised) book the podcast is named after—is particularly informative for gardeners. I have learned a huge amount from Margaret (and Ken) and am grateful whenever I hear her. Margaret also maintains a blog at her site.

I won’t mention it separately since I’m really only covering actively maintained podcasts here, but the archives of Ken’s Real Dirt podcast are full of useful information for gardeners as well.

Wild Plant Culture

I’m happy to call Jared Rosenbaum a friend. He and his wife Rachel Mackow own and operate Wild Ridge Plants, a farm in western New Jersey where they grow beautiful New Jersey native plants. Jared recently started the Wild Plant Culture podcasts in which he conducts long-form interviews with noted authorities in the field, such as Leslie Sauer, ecological restoration practitioner and author of The Once and Future Forest or permaculture expert Dale Hendricks. Jared’s blog is here.

The Field Guides

Hear the sound of crunching leaves as Bill Michalek and Steve Fleck (aka Bill and Steve) walk through the woods while discussing an aspect of the natural world, generally in western New York State. Like Matt Candieas, they both have science backgrounds so they research peer-reviewed literature for the podcasts, which often leads to their underscoring just how much more science there is left to do on the natural world. One thing that I particularly love is that they generally contextualize whatever topic they are talking about within human culture as well. The Field Guides isn’t very oriented toward growing plants but rather urges you to get out into the woods and hike and that’s a very cool spin.

The Native Plant Podcast

Mike Berkeley of Growild Native Plant Nursery and landscape designer John Magee host the native plant podcast, interviewing horticulturists, designers, botanists, and other individuals in the field. I found the discussions with Larry Weaner and Thomas Rainer particularly important in my thinking. The Native Plant Podcast hosts are based in Tennessee and the mid-Atlantic area and I am often jealous of how much richer their areas are in native plant resources compared this plant-impoverished area of northeastern New Jersey (which doesn’t have a single nursery with a large selection of native plants…even Jared and Rachel’s nursery is over an hour away!).

Cultivating Place

Host Jennifer Jewell talks to a variety of individuals, from garden designers to scientists to artists. Cultivating Place is quite a spiritual and inspiring podcast. I have learned a great deal from her and her guests and, when I need inspiration, this is always my go-to podcast.