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Seniors learn about sustainable gardening

By Madison Butkus

Hometown Weekly Reporter

Medfield Council on Aging (COA) members gathered together at The Center at Medfield to listen to Garden Author and Speaker, Rebecca Warner. This presentation was sponsored by the Medfield Garden Club and gave great insight into sustainable gardening techniques. 

Warner’s presentation stemmed around her book “The Sustainable - Enough Garden” and focused on the importance of how what we do within our gardens can make a major impact on our environment. Her four main discussion points included why we should grow plants for native insects, the right balance of insects that should be found in our gardens, how to select native plants, and some insect-friendly garden maintenance tricks.  

When talking about her gardening techniques, Warner was the first to admit that, in the beginning, she was more focused on if it will grow/bloom in her garden rather than if they were native plants or not. She further did not see her garden as an ecosystem until she read the book “Bringing Nature Home - How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” by Douglas W. Tallamy. 

This book changed her perspective completely and thus began doing more research on how she could incorporate native plants into her beautiful garden. When doing so, Warner learned a vast array of knowledge surrounding insects and their importance within our ecosystem. “Our yards may be filled with green and leafy plants,” Warner stated, “but from an insect point of view, they are a food desert if they don’t contain native plants. This is because of a point that I previously did not understand which was that most insects specialize. And that is why we need to plant some native plants. I used to think that any bug could eat my plants’ leaves but that is just not the case. It turns out that 90% of insects depend on a group of plants that they coevolved with. So over the millennia they have tailored their behavior and physiology to sense and locate those plants and they have synchronized their lifestyle with those plants.” 

This is why Warner stresses the importance of incorporating native plants within our gardens, but fully understands that our gardens do not have to completely be these plants alone. As long as native plants are starting to be incorporated more within gardens throughout the United States, this gradual adjustment will start to help the problem. 

When trying to recognize native plants at a garden center, Warner recommends researching at home and bringing a list, or using your smartphone when there. There are many great websites to help identify native plants, including the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder. 

For more information about Warner and her book, please visit her website at  

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