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The Davey Nursery donated a redbud tree for Keep Ohio Beautiful's National Planting Day on Sept. 18.

Home Is Where The Roots Are

October 8, 2012

Fall arrived nearly two weeks ago and greeted us with the cooler temperatures that prompt us to layer up.

Sweatshirt on, hood up, jacket zipped, scarf wrapped: I'm ready to go.

These layers keep me warm and cozy as I brave the chilly air to perform tree inventories and consultations each day. After work, when I settle into the living room of my house to relax, it's the walls of my home that shield me from the weather outside. I wrap myself in a blanket and snuggle into the cushions of my couch with my dog. It's cozy and comfortable: Home.

Plants like to feel at home, too. When tree and shrub roots adapt and cling to the soil, absorbing sufficient water and nutrients, they thrive. Native plants know what to expect out of the weather, then react accordingly.

Thanks to Davey, a spry, young redbud tree and countless new perennials are growing happily in their native soil among the Ohio Statehouse gardens.

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Davey Resource Group's Joe May (right) helps plant perennials along the walkway leading to the State Street doors of the Ohio Statehouse.

To not only beautify communities, but also to celebrate the value and power of native species, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) launched the first National Planting Day on Sept. 8. Keep Ohio Beautiful (KOB) hosted its own event 10 days later in Columbus.

"KAB is really on to something important by expanding their vision to include urban greening and, in doing so, the use of native plantings," says Karen Wise, manager of Natural Resource Consulting for the Davey Resource Group (DRG) and KOB board member. "As a KOB board member and DRG biologist, it is so exciting to be a part of a day that is dedicated to environmental stewardship and natural resource sustainability."

DRG donated the perennials for Keep Ohio Beautiful's National Planting Day, including butterfly weed, royal catchfly, prairie dropseed and yellow coneflower, which volunteers planted along the walkway leading to the State Street entrance to the Statehouse. "Native grasses have very deep and elaborate root systems, which help stabilize soil and prevent erosion," Wise explains.

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Tolles Career and Technical Center students help dig holes for native plants at the Ohio Statehouse.

The Davey Nursery donated the redbud tree - the centerpiece of a ceremonial planting on the day of the event - which now stands adjacent to an elm tree Davey originally donated in 1939 to honor Governor Martin L. Davey.

The new, native, Statehouse landscaping will most likely develop into robust, healthy plants because natives are hardier than exotic and ornamental species. "Restoring native landscapes is important to preserving the unique biodiversity of an area," Wise says. "Biodiversity is an essential natural resource - the more diverse an ecosystem is, the more services it will provide, such as cleaner air and water, food and pollination."

Because approximately 90,000 school children and thousands of other individuals visit or pass by the statehouse each year, the native plantings will serve as the community's constant reminder about the benefits of native plantings. From their ability to improve the community's quality of life to their tendency to restore ecological balance to the environment and save significant maintenance costs over time, native plants are valuable assets to the community.

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Keep Ohio Beautiful Board members, including Davey Resource Group's own Karen Wise, join Senator Richard Finan, chairman of Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, for a ceremonial tree planting of the redbud tree on the State Street lawn of the Ohio Statehouse.

Planting season is here, so now is also the time to research plants' compatibility with the soil at your home if you're interested in adding new specimens to your property before the end of the year. As Wise suggests, "Get involved by using native species for fall planting efforts. Natives provide the best sources of food and habitat for pollinators and other important wildlife. Once established, native plants seldom need watering, protection from frost or continuous mowing."

Although the redbud tree and perennials are new to the Ohio Statehouse gardens, their roots recognize the soil: It's home. These plants can devote the energy they'd otherwise spend on adapting to a new, foreign environment to long-term survival instead. The familiarity of the environment is comforting and settling.

After all, home is where the roots are. And, from this season on, Davey's green donations are there to stay.

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