Native Plants Make Great Urban Neighbors

I have been impressed on several recent trips to New York City with the palette and emphasis on native plants in New York’s city parks. I’m not talking about the High Line, which in itself is a fabulous array of native plants in a linear park on an elevated rail bed. And I don’t even know if the High Line inspired the parks department or if they all just got Doug Tallamy’s message (Bringing Nature Home at the same time. But from Central Park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary, to Governer’s Island new installation “The Hills”,

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Governer’s Island in New York

or the waterfront park at Randall’s Island , New York City Parks department has installed some very impressive beds dominated by native plants.

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Randall’s Island in New York City

Additionally impressive is that NYC Parks have planned for interpretive signage explaining what visitors are seeing and why it is important. These parks are attractive and inviting to both human and wildlife visitors. Some parks include both saltwater and freshwater mitigation and reclamation with appropriate signage explaining the process and identifying wildlife.

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Wildflower Meadow signage, Randall’s Island

These beds are mixed among soccer fields, greenway paths, concert lawns, golf courses, baseball fields, picnic areas, and reclaimed land such as in The Hills.

All I can say is….C’mon Charlotte….take this as a challenge! Incorporate broad sweeps of locally sourced native plants that benefit wildlife, that are attractive and interesting and different. Almost all of the foliage beds in in ALL of the NYC parks that I have seen over recent years feature huge sweeps of Heuchera, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Lobelia, and many more native plants. Grasses are used extensively to blend the beds together. It’s inspiring on so many levels, and beneficial in a city, that is undoubtedly covered in concrete. Charlotte is the city of trees….but we can do so much more.