New Jersey Native Lilly

Who knew the birds and the bees wasn’t just about sex? This reporter didn’t until she learned all about native plants from The Hudson County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, which  is having its first native plant sale right here in Jersey City Sunday, Sept 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Canco Park.

Some of the dozens of varieties sold will include Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady’s Slipper), Aronia melanocarpa`Viking’ (‘Viking’ Aronia Berry), Sarracenia leucophylla (‘White Trumpet’ Pitcher Plant),  Allium tricoccum (Ramps), and Comptonia peregrina (Sweet Fern). And the event will feature gardening lectures, discussions with birders, and kids’ activities.

Native plants are so much more beneficial than non-native species, said Lorraine Freeney, one of three co-founders of the Hudson County chapter. “They’re easier to care for, because they’re adapted to the climate. They require less water and are hardier. But their biggest benefit, according to Freeney, “is that they support  a healthy ecosystem in a way that non-native plants can’t. Native plants evolved alongside our insects, birds and other animals in mutually beneficial relationships. They provide food (pollen, nectar, seeds, fruit) and habitat for those creatures, and in turn, insects and birds pollinate the plants and help them spread.”

Or as co-founder Dawn Giambalvo put it, “When all of those neighbors link up and share food and water, it’s like the best block party you’ve ever been to; everyone grows.”

Giambalvo said native plants also inhibit the growth of weeds.

Well-Sweep Herb Farm, which boasts one of the largest collections of herbs and perennials in the country, will provide the plants available for purchase, some of which would be considered rare, according to nursery owner David Hyde. Hyde will be one of two featured lecturers at the event, sharing information on natives’ benefits, and proper plant installation and care. Hoboken author Marnie Fylling will be on hand to sign copies of Fylling’s Illustrated Guide to Your Neighborhood, and kids can learn how to make seed “bombs,” tag monarch butterflies, and make nature-based origami.

Many people associate springtime with plants, but event co-leader Kim Correro explained why the event is taking place in the fall.

“We’ve learned planting in the fall rather than the spring gives the plant’s root system time to establish itself and the plant a better chance of thriving in spring,” she said.

The Native Plant Society of New Jersey conducts regular lectures, presentations, and webinars, organizes nature walks and garden tours, and dispenses advice on design and maintenance of native gardens and landscapes. More information on the organization and on its upcoming webinar “Nature and Gardeners,” featuring renowned birder Julie Zickefoose, can be found on the organization’s website. Those with questions about the Hudson County chapter of NPSNJ can contact