Welcome to the latest edition of Ecosystem Gardening Radio.

Up today, an Ecosystem Garden does not have to conform to the stereotype of the “wild garden,” says Carolyn Summers, but can be designed to give you any style of garden that you’d like, while using native plants.

I was honored to meet Carolyn Summers when our keynote addresses bookended the day at the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society annual conference, and I became very excited about her message that day.

Carolyn’s groundbreaking book, Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East, is an excellent read. In fact, I could not put it down.

Here are some points from my talk with Carolyn Summers about designing our gardens with native plants:

Native, or indigenous, plants are vital to wildlife because they are part of the local food web. Exotic plants do not contribute to the food web and are merely ornaments in our landscape, says Summers.

She goes on to explain why indigenous plants are so important, how to choose them, how to buy them, and how to design the garden of your dreams using native plants.

Carolyn’s goal is to make human-dominated landscapes more hospitable to wildlife by teaching us how to incorporate more native plants into our urban and suburban gardens.

It makes no sense to just choose plants merely for their decorative value when we can choose plants that are beautiful and also play a role in the local ecology for wildlife. Don’t limit yourself to non-functional plants, but work to choose multi-purpose plants which better support a wide diversity of wildlife.

Is your favorite garden style a formal garden? Did you know you can create this using native plants?

No matter what style of garden you are most comfortable with, you can design it using indigenous plants, including Italianate, knot, cottage, and even Japanese-style gardens.

So check out Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East, by Carolyn Summers to learn how to design your wildlife-friendly garden in your favorite garden style.

What’s your gardening style in your Ecosystem Garden?

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