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Why are native plants so important, anyway? Davey Resource Group's Greg Snowden helps plant native perennials at the Ohio Statehouse during National Planting Day on Sept. 23.

Why Native Plants Are More Important Than You Think

September 24, 2014

Welcome, fall!

Volunteers "fluttered" about planting perennials at the Ohio Statehouse grounds in Columbus on the first official day of fall. But the shrubs and flowers they planted weren't just any old plants.

On Sept. 23, Davey Resource Group's Greg Snowden and Ken Christensen joined other volunteers at the Ohio Statehouse for Ohio's celebration of National Planting Day. Keep Ohio Beautiful hosted the public educational event at the South Plaza to help beautify the grounds by planting an Ohio Native Butterfly Forage Garden.

Read below for an excerpt from Snowden's speech about the importance of native plants and their benefits to monarch butterflies:

Like in 2012 and 2013, this year’s Keep Ohio Beautiful planting uses native species. The trees, shrubs and flowers that you see here today can be found in the forests and fields across Ohio’s 88 counties. While last year we focused on a woodland planting, the goal this year is to provide food and habitat for butterflies, with a specific focus on the monarch butterfly.

The monarch is an amazing insect; its beautiful, orange and black stained-glass wings flutter over Ohio during the summer months before the butterfly starts its annual migration to a small forest in Mexico, thousands of miles away, where it overwinters. Sadly, we have seen the population of monarchs decline rapidly over the past two decades, primarily due to habitat loss. However, butterfly gardens like this one help to counteract this loss. The buttonbush, coneflower, geranium and false sunflower all provide nectar for hungry adult butterflies. The garden also includes large numbers of several native milkweeds; the only plants where monarchs lay eggs and the only thing eaten by its caterpillars!

In addition to supporting our insects and wildlife, native plants give us so many other amazing benefits. Trees, including the pagoda dogwood installed as part of the planting, and the existing honeylocust and red maple near the butterfly garden, provide important economic, social and environmental functions:

  • They remove pollution from the air, resulting in improved air quality.
  • Trees absorb large amounts of water during storms, reducing run-off and flooding in our streams and rivers.
  • They provide connectivity to nature and support emotional health and healing.
  • Trees help reduce erosion from storms and wind, thereby protecting our land and farms.
  • They improve property values at our homes and businesses.

I think President Theodore Roosevelt really hit the nail on the head when he said, “To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees." Native trees, shrubs and flowers, like those planted today and in past years here at the Statehouse, will continue to remind visitors of this great facility, the importance of Ohio’s fields and forests and the critical roles played by the plants that form the backbones of those ecosystems.

Browse through our gallery of photos from National Planting Day at the Ohio Statehouse below! 

Are you looking for ways to incorporate native trees into your landscape? Contact us for a free consultation

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