News

15th Annual Native Plant Sale will be held on April 26

Hundreds of beautiful, beneficial plants will be available at The Native Plant Center’s 15th Annual Native Plant Sale on Saturday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Westchester Community College in Valhalla. Admission is free.

This year the plant sale will celebrate birds, because it falls on the birthday of wildlife artist John James Audubon (1785–1851), for whom the venerable bird conservation organization was named. To honor this occasion—and to bring community-wide attention to the role gardens can play as habitat—the sale will offer a large selection of plants especially beneficial to birds, many recommended by local chapters of the National Audubon Society.

“Backyards—and gardeners—can make a difference,” says Carol Capobianco, Director of The Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College. “Populations of many bird species are in decline. Gardeners can create habitat for birds by changing their plant palette to include native plants. When designing a garden, think not only about four-season visual interest but also year-round food sources, shelter, and water. Install a mix of berry-, seed-, and nectar-producing plants as well as dense plantings to provide cover,” she adds.

Hummingbird favorites, butterfly host plants, and other species loved by native pollinators also will be among the perennials, shrubs, and trees for sale. Native plant specialists will be on hand to answer questions and assist gardeners in choosing great options for their sites from the 3,000 plants and over 75 species offered.

Among the selections:

  • The Native Plant Center’s picks of 2014: Native Woody Plant of the Year, Lonicera sempervirens (trumpet honeysuckle), a long-blooming vine with tubular red flowers beloved by hummingbirds, and the Native Perennial of the Year, Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed), a long-lived orange milkweed that brightens the summer garden and is a larval host and nectar source for many butterfly species. 
  • Berry-producing plants for birds and other animals such as Ilex verticillata (winterberry) Photinia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), and Gaylussacia dumosa (dwarf huckleberry). 
  • Seed-bearing plants such as Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) and grasses such as Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) that provide winter food for wildlife. 
  • Hummingbird favorites such as Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine), Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower), and Penstemon digitalis (foxglove beardtongue). 
  • Several milkweed species to focus attention on the plight of the monarch butterfly, which depends solely on milkweed to lay its eggs and whose populations are in dramatic decline. 

The day will kick off at 8:15 a.m. with a guided bird walk on campus led by Bedford Audubon’s Naturalist Tait Johansson (bring your binoculars!). The sale opens to the public at 10 a.m. (Native Plant Center members may enter at 9:30 a.m.). Other bird-themed activities for the day include information about local birds; the sale of garden accessories such as bird baths, houses, and feeders by the Wild Bird Center; and other celebratory treats to wish a “Happy Bird-day” to Mr. Audubon.

The Native Plant Center is teaming with Audubon chapters in the area to bring attention to the interdependency of native plants and birds. Bedford Audubon, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year as a chapter of the National Audubon Society, is spearheading the efforts.

“We’re so happy to be partnering with The Native Plant Center to celebrate John James Audubon’s birthday and conservation,” says Janelle Robbins, Executive Director of Bedford Audubon. “I can’t wait to see more home landscapes evolve into wildlife oases for birds and butterflies.”

As in past years, McCue Gardens of Wethersfield, Connecticut, will be present at the sale, offering a unique selection of delicate woodland plants.

The sale is located at Westchester Community College, 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla, New York. Sale attendees should enter the East Grasslands Entrance and park in Lot #1. Volunteers are needed to prepare for the sale and to assist on sale day itself. Those interested in volunteering, or those seeking further information about the sale, should visit nativeplantcenter.org, email wcc.nativeplant@sunywcc.org, or call 914-606-7870.

The Native Plant Center was established in 1998 as the first national affiliate of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. The Native Plant Center maintains demonstration gardens and educates the public about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants through conferences, field trips, and classes in its Go Native U continuing education program.