April 2021 Program Recap

| Blog, Program Recap

By Sherri Brom, WORC Member

Native Garden Design 
Presented via Zoom April 19 by Rebecca Marquardt and Amy Heilman

The presentation by Rebecca Marquardt and Amy Heilman is a great accompaniment to the “Creating Your Own Native Garden Design” booklet developed by the national Wild Ones organization. Both Rebecca and Amy have more than 20 years of experience in native landscape design and their extensive knowledge proved valuable and enlightening for anyone interested in planting natives.

The Wild Ones booklet includes seven typical residential designs from six professional landscape designers using only native plants. Topics include: choosing native plants, creating your garden plan, working your plan, and keeping it beautiful.

Rebecca began the presentation by asking the question: “What delights and excites you?” She pointed out that Michigan is ecologically diverse with many different topographies allowing for a multitude of native plant choices and combinations. She explained that your goals may influence your garden strategy, and that Michigan offers exciting array of natives—from trees and shrubs to vines and plants—to choose from. Some key takeaways:

  • There are 465 species of native bees and 551 native wildflowers (forbs) in Michigan.
  • The food web begins with native plants.
  • Many insect species are specialized to a particular plant.

Rebecca also discussed the 15 points of creating a garden plan, emphasizing basics such as goals and motivation, soil and light conditions, moisture levels and plant communities. She stressed the importance of choosing the right plant for the right place, but added that most native plants are flexible.

Amy continued the presentation by talking about design strategies and working your plan. She offered some sound advice such as:

  • developing your garden in phases,
  • using your back yard to go a little “wild,’
  • using existing turf for pathways.

She talked about how hardscapes can create interest, focal points and boundaries and the importance of planting for wildlife habitat and food sources. She also discussed ways to get rid of turf when converting it to native plants, and using different groundcover options, such as wild ginger and wild strawberry, to replace turf.

Lastly, Amy stressed working with a native garden plan—and having patience. “Work smarter, not harder!” she said.

  • The first three years of native plantings will require the most care as plants get established.
  • Phasing in native beds can help you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • There are many different tools available to help in planting, weeding, and maintaining native gardens.

Rebecca and Amy provided great information, advice, and online resources for anyone looking to start or enhance a native garden. Check out their presentation on YouTube, and consider becoming a Wild Ones member to learn more about the joys of “going native!”


Native Garden Design video is available to view on YouTube

Download the Program References pdf or a print-friendly pdf version of the Creating Your Own Native Garden Design booklet.