Lindsey Button gives her Bloom Box garden a 10 out of 10.
“They are easy, sustainable and help support native pollinators,” she said. “There’s no maintenance after the first couple of years.”
The bloom boxes she used to fill the garden bed, which she carved out of part of her front lawn, came with plants chosen by Nebraska Statewide Arboretum horticulturalists, along with a design plan and instructions for maintaining the garden. The My Garden Affiliate program is designed for home gardeners seeking to use their private gardens to create a more resilient environment.
Button filled one part of the garden bed with the 24 plants that came in her first Bloom Box in 2019, and then added more in 2021.
Her garden will be on display as part of the NSA’s annual Omaha Garden Walk on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
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A half-dozen local gardens across the city will be open to tour, with owners on hand to answer questions and provide information about the plants and garden design.
“The Garden Walk is a chance for local gardeners participating in our programs to show off the beautiful results of their hard work, while also inspiring others to explore and learn about the benefits of sustainable gardening,” NSA Program Coordinator Sarah Buckley said.
Button earned a masters of science in biology in Canada, focusing on the benefits of native pollinators and their impact on crop yields.
She saw first-hand the huge benefits of native pollinators but didn’t have any idea of what plants to grow here in Nebraska to attract them.
She’s a novice gardener, and this is the first home for her and husband, Colin Cassard.
It was daunting, she said, to think of coming up with a plant list, figuring out when things bloomed and how big they would get. With a Bloom Box, she could leave that up to the NSA.
“I’m no landscaper,” she said. “So having some kind of guide to follow is ridiculously helpful.”
Button says the bed of perennials looks a little bit like organized chaos. Her coneflowers and blue sage are flourishing as well as the ironweed. The rose milkweed provided some food for the monarch caterpillars found by the kids across the street.
Now that the garden is established, Button said she’s only had to weed a few times this year. She cautions that it’s important to put a label with each plant, so it doesn’t get pulled up by accident by gardeners unfamiliar with the native varieties.
That’s what she almost did to her new blue wood aster.
The NSA provides a sign to post in a bloom box garden, so anyone walking by can learn what’s in the garden and its purpose.
“I’ve had a lot of people stop and support my little lawn patch,” she said.
Tickets for the Garden Walk are $5/car for NSA members and $10/car for nonmembers. Participants will be provided with a map of the gardens on the tour and a description of each.
To register for the Omaha Garden Walk, visit plantnebraska.org/events and click on Omaha Garden Walk.
Deep roots of native plants
One of the things that fascinates Button about native grasses is their root growth.
Because their roots go so deep, they are much more suited to survive here, especially with the challenges ahead due to climate change.
A lawn will go maybe four inches,” she said. “Look at the roots on some of those native grasses and it’s like feet and feet and feet. They are way better evolved to thrive in this kind of environment.”
Those deep roots reduce the amount of water required, especially important in times of drought.
Seeking difference makers
Each year the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum presents recognition awards to those in our state who are working to plant trees, make gardens, build their communities and educate others about the importance of greening towns and protecting natural spaces.
NSA is accepting nominations through Oct. 3 for the following award categories:
Blazing Star Award: Recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution toward advancing the horticultural use of native plants or the restoration of native plant communities in Nebraska.
Johnny Appleseed Award: Recognizes an individual who embodies the generous spirit of Johnny Appleseed through a sustained personal involvement in tree planting in Nebraska.
Educator Award: Recognizes educators who have made an outstanding contribution toward advancing the knowledge and appreciation of plants among their students.
Community Landscape Award: Recognizes individuals, groups, businesses or organizations (including governmental units) for the implementation of a landscape project or activity that has significantly improved the green infrastructure of a community. Such projects should reach beyond beautification to include elements of sustainability such as water conservation, stormwater management, land stewardship, tree-canopy restoration, habitat, biodiversity, soil improvements, education and outreach, native plants, etc.
The awards will be presented on Nov. 4. Nomination form are available at plantnebraska.org/awards.
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