On October 17th, junior Kristie Saliba’s URI 101 class began installation of a “Native Plant System” in the URI Botanical Gardens. These students are interested in the Environmental Horticulture and Turf major, and it was a great hands-on experience for them. The first part of the job was to prepare the site, and like any job done well, it’s all in the prep! Kristie’s students spent about three hours removing sod and spreading our own Botanical Gardens compost on the area. Mike and Kyle pitched in to help, as well as Kate Venturini, who designed the garden (and is the brains behind the Landscape Restoration Program at the Outreach Center).
When the site was ready, volunteers from the URI Master Gardener’s Association began planting. Native asters, goldenrod, and spiraea were donated by Rhody Native, the Rhode Island-grown native plants initiative. Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry), Lindera benzoin (Spicebush), and Arctostaphyllos uva-ursi (Bearberry) were donated by the URI Botanical Gardens. The installation will be completed next week, and while some of the perennials are still small, they are off to a great head start with fall planting.
Of course, there are many native plants already in the Botanical Gardens, as well as beautifully adapted, non-invasive plants from other parts of the world. But natives are a fundamental part of the landscape, which this garden will highlight. As I explained on the garden tours this summer, “Native plants feed native insects, and native insects feed native birds and amphibians, and you can just follow that right up the food chain.” A simple way to understand the importance of these sometimes overlooked plants in caring for our landscape and environment.