Homegrown National Park

Are you on the map?

There’s a movement afoot and it’s gaining momentum in a big way. Started by Doug Tallamy, developed with the professional know-how of Michelle Alfandari, the concept is simple:


– Homegrown National Parks Website

In other words…

Instead of waiting for the government, or a corporation, or an “expert” to tackle our ecological challenges, we as homeowners can make a huge impact on our own! Every time we make a small change, we start to create a network for nature that rebuilds and reconnects habitats right now.

It’s so easy

Here’s how easy it is- if you’ve ever done a project with me, you’re already in the Homegrown National Park. If you’ve ever replaced a little part of your lawn with pollinator- or wildlife-friendly native plants, you’re in the Homegrown National Park. If you’ve planted container gardens with native plants- you’re in the Park! And when your neighbor makes a little change, you start connecting to a bigger network. That’s it.

But I hate messy gardens!

Guess what? So do I! As a designer, I’m on a mission to help us rethink what a so-called native garden needs to look like. I personally think this level of wildness is beautiful in a defined area:

A small area of sod was reclaimed for a native garden on a busy street corner.
This garden brings a lot of smiles and waves as people drive by- happy insects, happy people.

But maybe you’re not a fan of billowing perennials! Guess what? This is also a native garden!

Trees and shrubs are also hugely beneficial to insects and other wildlife! You don’t need a garden full of perennials to make a difference.

A beautiful Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis ‘Hearts of Gold’), hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’), some native ferns- so simple and so beneficial. Or how about this manicured perfection?! We added native hydrangeas- a great start!

You can use native plants in a manicured garden.

The bottom line

Homegrown National Park is a simple umbrella concept that says everyone can make a difference. If you’re already designing a new garden, it’s no more effort to include native plants than non-native (strive for a mix of 70-30 native/non-native). And if you want to make a little change, more and more plants are available at the garden centers. Maybe you just plant a little tree or some shrubs, maybe you want summer flowers, or winterberries for color when everything else is dormant. Keep it simple and record your changes on the map!

Still not sure? I can help.

Rock Spring Park

Several times a week I jog through Rock Spring Park, one of our wonderful green spaces here in Arlington. There’s always something to stop and admire, whether it be blooms, new green growth, ducks in the water, or someone’s adorable canine pal out for a walk. In addition to Arlington Parks & Rec, a lot of volunteers make sure the park stays healthy, and I appreciate them every time I go through. And if you have part-shade in your garden, you can be sure that anything thriving here in deer territory will do well at your house, too.

Native Gardens

Photo of Native Gardens Set

I had a great time at the Arena Stage last weekend seeing Native Gardens, their current play. It was the perfect event to attend with some designer friends. I spent the whole play thinking of simple compromises for the two couples, and I also really wanted to see the left garden cleaned up! They never did sweep up the debris, but there was a happy ending nonetheless.

Finally Made it to Bloedel Reserve

I finally made it to the Bloedel Reserve. We had a wonderful time walking the paths and enjoying the quiet. There are no signs or plant labels to read- one simply wanders through. It was a truly relaxing experience and I would gladly go back. Anyone who lives locally can buy an annual pass and walk the grounds as a regular activity. Delightful.