Resources for a native plant meadow yarden
29 May 2022
Several years ago we converted the lawn in front of my house to a native plant meadow-style garden. My spouse and I have learned so much along the way that I should definitely write up sometime, but for right now, here's a list of some resources that I have found helpful. I'm based in Lincoln, Nebraska, so these resources will probably be most relevant to you if you're in this rough region.
I've spent a lot of time with various books on native plants, to learn to identify the things we're growing as well as to decide what else to add to the yard.
"Native Plants of the Midwest" is the book I'd recommend if you were hoping to add more native plants to your yard and you only want to get one book. (But why would you get just one book?)
This field guide is my favorite for flipping through and seeing a photo and quick description of each plant, to get better at identifying native plants I've planted, that my neighbors have planted, or that I see on walks at sites like Spring Creek Prairie Audobon Center.
"Common Backyard Weeds of the Upper Midwest" is super useful for identifying common weeds you'll run into and management strategies for them. There's a lot of "did I plant this or is this a weed" in my native plant journey so far.
Okay, these books aren't about native plants. They're about including edible plants in your ornamental landscape design, as opposed to (or in addition to) the traditional rows of a dedicated vegetable patch. I can't choose between them; I love them both and have spent a lot of time flipping through for inspiration.
# Facebook Groups
Supporting Ecology by Gardening with Native Plants used to be called "Gardening with Nature in Mind" (a much better name, imo). It's a pretty active group of about ~2,000 members, with many based in Lincoln (where the group originated and where I live). The group holds two annual in-person plant swaps in Lincoln, but also has a wealth of information and helpful advice for gardening with nature in mind. (ahem)
Pollinator Friendly Yards Midwest has more members (~6k) but seems less active and useful. Still worth joining too, though!
# Places to buy native plants
Midwest Natives Nursery in Lincoln has a wide selection of native plants and in-person sales during the growing season. Check their Facebook page for what’s in stock each week and online pre-orders.
Stockseed Farms north of Lincoln has a variety of wildflower seeds and native grass seed.
The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum hosts plant sales mostly in Lincoln but occasionally elsewhere. Not all the plants they sell are natives, and some are cultivars (a contentious topic in the native plant/pollinatotr gardening world), but generally nice.
Prairie Moon Nursery is based in Minnesota and does online sales of bare-root plants that come in the mail and seeds. I haven't purchased from them myself but know it's highly regarded.
# Plant identification apps
I like Seek which is made by the science-y folks behind iNaturalist. Seek is good at identifying native plants, weeds, and all kinds of bugs, but less good at trees and non-native ornamentals.
PictureThis is also a popular app, and I use it sometimes with good results, but it will only let you take a few pictures each day before it prompts you to sign up for a paid account. It is better at identifying non-native ornamentals than Seek.