Montgomery Parks is hosting its annual fall native plant sales at Locust Grove Nature Center in Bethesda and Maydale Nature Classroom in Colesville. The sales seek to bolster native vegetation for native pollinators. The plants help create habitats that are necessary for pollinators’ survival and support the local ecosystem. The online sale for Locust Grove Nature Center runs through Tuesday, Sept. 6, and an in-person sale is scheduled for Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 17-18. The native plant sale for Maydale Nature Center is exclusively online and begins Sept. 6.
The department’s Native Plant Program began 10 years ago at Pope Farm Nursery, which is located at 7400 Airpark Rd. in Gaithersburg. The program was established in 2012 to enhance habitats for native pollinators and has quadrupled since its founding from 12,000 to 50,000 plants produced per year.
The native plant sale for Maydale Nature Center is exclusively online and runs from Sept. 6-21. Maydale staff will contact purchasers to arrange times for pickup on Sept. 24.
Native plants available for purchase include perennial wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and pawpaw trees. The plant sale will feature many well-known native plants, as well as some species that are not grown at other nurseries because they are sourced from wild plants in parks.
All proceeds from the online and onsite sales will fund the nature center’s educational programs and Montgomery Parks’ Nature on Wheels. It is the mobile science field station that travels all over the County and educates the public on the local environment.
“Through this funding source, we are growing opportunities for the public to learn more about the value of native plants and wildlife and how they can create a sanctuary in our communities,” said Angela Yau, the facility and program manager at Locust Grove Nature Center who runs Montgomery Parks’ seasonal native plant sales.
Rochelle Bartolomei, native plant program manager for Montgomery Parks, collects seeds from parks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and other nearby parks in Maryland and Northern Virginia. The plants are all from Ecoregion 64 in the Northern Piedmont, which means they belong in the local area and will support the local populations of insects that have co-evolved with them.
Staff gather seeds from native plants in the parks, which are cleaned, stored, prepared and planted outdoors in raised beds and also indoors in greenhouses. Plants mature at different rates, from just a few months up to several years.
Native plants are planted in different areas of the County’s parks, including stormwater management projects, landscaping projects at facilities and for the Weed Warriors program. They also are used for native plant sales at Montgomery Parks’ nature centers and nature classroom.
Maryland’s native plants include host and nectar plants that provide food for insect larva, such as monarch caterpillars, and can flourish without fertilizer, pesticides or extensive care beyond watering. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil and provide food for wildlife. They are also better equipped to manage insects and diseases, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed guide.