Native plant gardener helps save native wildlife

ASHEBORO, NC — A walk through Pat Holder’s garden is like traveling back to a time before many different trees and foliage were brought to the state, because she grows a variety of plants that are native to North Carolina.

What You Need To Know

Pat Holder is an avid gardener and advocate for growing native plants

Growing native plants helps support area wildlife and the environment

Native plants can also be helpful in natural remedies and cooking

The avid lifetime gardener decided to start native plant gardening in 2015, once she realized how dangerous and invasive nonnative plants and pesticides were to the area and its critters. Now, as spring rolls around, she’s encouraging others to do the same.

“We garden for all of the critters, the birds, the bees, the butterflies and the wildlife that lives all around us,” she said.

Native plants are those that have been around for not hundreds of years, but thousands and are what the native wildlife is best fed and sheltered by. Nonnative plants like Bradford pears, seen all over North Carolina, are actually an invasive species. Holder says without proper nutrients from seeds and insects from native plants and flowers, birds and butterflies are fleeting in numbers.

“It’s important for the wildlife to have something that they recognize to eat,” she said.

Her inspiration to become a native gardener actually began with the monarch butterfly after learning just how endangered it has become. Since then her garden has become certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat and a part of the Butterfly Highway. She now takes pride in welcoming all kinds of insects and wildlife into her garden and knowing there’s no chance of harmful chemicals, pesticides or plants endangering what she calls “her critters.”

“Every time I’m in this space, whether I’m on my hands and knees in this space weeding for hours, I’m always filled with joy because I just love being here,” she said.

Planting native foliage also invites birds and bumblebees in to help pollinate and distribute these native seeds throughout not only the garden, but the region. So her environmental impact goes beyond just the gates of her garden.

Holder says besides their beauty and ecosystem benefits, native plants can also be helpful in natural remedies and cooking. She encourages anyone who might be interested to pick a native plant, start small and like her, watch their appreciation for what it does, grow along with it.

“As long as you have pots in your house, you can have plants,” she said.

For more information on native plants and how you can start planting them, click here.

*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the National Wildlife Federation.

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