New Native Garden Design by Two Wild Ones Members!

| Announcement, Blog

from Wild Ones – National

Offering Free Designs for the Ecoregions of GRAND RAPIDS, MI and 9 other cities!
The Designs Support Pollinators and Promote Climate Resilience

Wild Ones is proud to introduce a free to use, professionally designed, native garden plan specific to the Grand Rapids ecoregion. The design was created with the premise that using native plants in landscaping can be beautiful, beneficial, and achievable for people of all skill levels and budgets.

Native plant communities do critical work supporting pollinators, providing food and habitat for wildlife, reducing erosion, mitigating flooding, sequestering carbon, conserving and purifying water, repairing soil, and enhancing the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of people of all ages.

Respected late ecologist E.O. Wilson stated fervently in a 2016 article for the New York Times “Only by the preservation of much more natural habitat than previously envisioned can extinction be brought close to a sustainable level. The only way to save upward of 90% of the rest of life is to vastly increase the area of refuges…”

Doug Tallamy, Wild Ones’ Lifetime Honorary Director, University of Delaware entomologist and author of “Nature’s Best Hope” stresses that “we can no longer leave conservation to the conservationists.” Native plant gardens in the private and public spaces of our own communities are our best hope for saving our environment. He pronounces that “we must now act collectively to put our ecosystems back together again.”

Wild Ones Executive Director Jen Ainsworth explained, “It’s crucial that we re-examine our approach to stewarding the spaces we own (our yards), as well as the public spaces in our communities. We need to adopt landscaping methods that are sustainable and promote the health and wellbeing of all forms of life. We hope our native garden plans inspire, encourage, and motivate individuals throughout the United States to make this important shift in their approach to landscaping. Nature is depending on the participation of all of us.”

The Grand Rapids design was created by local designers and Wild Ones River City members Amy Heilman and Rebecca Marquardt.

Amy Heilman is a certified landscape designer and has been planning and implementing sustainable gardens for over 20 years. Her business, The Living Garden, refers to the ecologic life that can be brought to any garden space with the presence of appropriate native plant species. Heilman has worked in various areas of natural resource management, landscape restoration and native plant nursery operations.

Rebecca Marquardt is a licensed landscape architect with over 25 years’ experience working with native plants and urban environments and is an accredited professional with the Sustainable Sites Initiative. She is the owner of Revery, a landscape architecture design studio with an ecological restoration influence. Marquardt’s leadership focus with Revery is in developing a narrative and design for residential and commercial sites that addresses the important topics of water quality and infiltration, soil health, pollination services, habitat regeneration, climate regulation, while also carefully considering the human experience within these landscapes.

The Grand Rapids design is a part of a larger initiative (Wild Ones Native Garden Designs Program) to create free, beautiful, nature friendly, native garden plans in a variety of ecoregions across the United States. The program, which is supported by a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, currently provides designs for the ecoregions of Boston, Chattanooga, Chicago, Columbia River Basin, Denver/Front Range, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Lafayette, Las Cruces, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Portland, Princeton, St. Louis, Tallahassee, Toledo, Tucson and Washington, DC. The designs can be downloaded from Wild Ones’ website:

The designs incorporate a variety of region-specific native plants that provide intrigue throughout the growing season and allow people to take an incremental approach in implementation, adding new areas and native plant species as time and funds permit. The designs and plant lists can be conveniently downloaded and printed making it easy to find plants at a local nursery. The website also features a growing list of nationwide nurseries that are great sources for obtaining native plants.

Amy Heilman and Rebecca Marquardt along with Alysia Babcok, owner of The Garden Guru Kzoo, LLC  will be the presenters for our April 17 (6:30 pm) in-person program at the Bunker Interpretive Center at Calvin University. The program is titled: Planning, Planting and Maintaining your Native Garden—Ask the Professionals. The presenters will utilize a typical residential garden design to discuss considerations when planning, implementing and maintaining a garden composed of native plant species. Participants will have ample opportunity to ask questions or state problems/issues they may have on their own properties. Presenters will use these inputs to provide answers and discuss solutions.