Native plants play an important role in sustaining wildlife, especially pollinating insects, which face threats from numerous sources including land development, pesticides, loss of habitat, and diseases. They are sometimes difficult to find in local greenhouses and garden centers, so the Master Gardeners include natives in their sale to make it easier for local residents to obtain the trees, shrubs, and perennials that can help sustain pollinators as well as beneficial insects and other wildlife.
Native trees and shrubs are especially valuable because they offer shelter and nesting materials and often flower much earlier than many perennials, thereby providing early sources of food. Native trees and shrubs included in this year’s sale catalog include Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), and Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). The Redbud trees will be available in #3 pots, and shrubs will be available in #1 or #2 sized pots. Bearberry, a groundcover, is available in 3.5" pots.
This year’s perennial offerings include Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly milkweed), which is a host plant for butterfly larvae. Another host plant available this year is Eupatorium coelestinum (Blue Mistflower). Rounding out the selection are Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite (Aster), Eupatorium hyssopifoloum (Thoroughwort), Lobelia syphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia), Heliopsis helianthoides (Smooth oxeye), Pycanthemeum flexosum (Mountain mint), and Physostegia ‘Pink Manners’ (Obedient plant or False dragonhead). They will be available in peat pots, which can be planted in the ground.
The sale catalog includes plants that bloom at various times throughout the season to provide constant sources of food for pollinators and beauty in home landscapes. The Master Gardeners recommend planting in clumps or drifts made up of several plants of the same variety.
In addition to helping pollinators, native plants can be part of a move toward more environmentally friendly gardening. Native plants tend to require less supplemental watering and fertilizer, and may have better pest and disease resistance than non-natives.
The 2018 order form includes detailed descriptions of the perennials, trees, and shrubs available as well as ordering instructions. Those unable to download the order form may request one by calling the Clinton County Master Gardener hotline at 570-726-0022, extension 3826 and leaving a call-back message. A Master Gardener will return the call and send out an order form. Through the hotline number, Master Gardeners are available to answer questions about incorporating native plants into backyards and landscapes. They can also help gardeners and homeowners with strategies for meeting other pollinator needs such water, shelter, and safe habitat and provide information on environmentally friendly approaches to gardening and landscaping.
The Clinton County Master Gardeners are encouraging local residents who want to help pollinators to consider having their gardens certified as “Pollinator Friendly Gardens”. A pollinator friendly garden provides the food, water, shelter and pesticide-free environment necessary to protect pollinators. Master Gardeners can help individuals review the pollinator friendly garden certification application and select plants that will meet both homeowners' and pollinators’ needs.
Plant sale orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. The Master Gardeners recommend submitting orders as early as possible. Plant orders will be available for pick up at the annual Clinton County Master Gardener Plant Sale on Saturday, May 19, 2018 from 9:00 am until noon at the Clinton County Fairgrounds, 95 Racetrack Road, Mill Hall, PA 17751. In addition to native trees, shrubs, and perennials, Master Gardeners will offer transplants from their own gardens on the day of the sale. They will also be available to answer questions.