CLEVELAND, Ohio — The holiday season is here again, and if you are looking for a gift idea for a gardener or nature enthusiast in your life, how about a Northeast Ohio wildlife sanctuary—in the form of native plants?

From seeds to plants to a pre-designed garden, giving a native garden is easier than you might think. Your gift will help support local businesses, bees, bugs, butterflies, and birds.

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

Native flowers such as these sneezeweed, great lobelia and blue mist flower can be purchased individually or premixed seed packets from OPN Seed in Hiram, OH.

Seeds

Ohio Prairie Natives, or OPN Seed, is a family-owned business in Hiram, Ohio that has been sourcing and selling native seeds for almost 25 years. Their specialty is seed mixes designed to address specific growing conditions, such as wet or dry soil, shady areas, hill stabilization, and lawn alternatives. Starting a native garden from seed is a cost-effective option, but takes more work than dumping seeds on a patch of ground. Patience is key—their website notes that it can take up to three growing seasons for a native garden started from seed to become fully established. Fortunately, the OPN website is a wealth of information on starting and maintaining native plant gardens, and personalized help is just a phone call or email away. They will even provide custom seed mixes and remote site consultations. www.opnseed.com

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

Plants from Meadow City Native Plant Nursery in Cleveland come in plantable pots.

Plants

Meadow City is a new native plant nursery in Cleveland. Their plants were available at local plant sales this past year, and they will be opening a retail store in North Collinwood this spring. Their specialty is “local ecotype plants,” which is a fancy way of saying that they hand-collect seeds (with landowner permission) from wild native plants in Northeast Ohio and then grow these seeds to develop their plant stocks. I purchased several of their plants at a pop-up sale this fall and found them to be remarkably sturdy and healthy. They were also easy to plant, thanks to the plantable wood-fiber pots. Plants will not be available until the spring, but gift cards and inspiration are ready now on their website, as well as a list of local landscapers who install and maintain native landscapes. www.meadowcitynursery.com

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

My Home Park, a Cleveland-based tech start-up, ships predesigned gardens to take the guesswork out of native plant selection.

Garden

My Home Park is a local start-up devoted to taking the guesswork out of planning and planting a native garden. CEO David Levine is a former Silicon Valley tech executive who calls Northeast Ohio home. Explains Levine, “I realized there are few online tools to allow homeowners to easily, quickly, and inexpensively customize and create their own gardens… My Home Park creates a fun, user-friendly experience for people who want to create their own pollinator gardens and empowers people to impact our pollinators by using the piece of the earth that they control.”

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

This Shaker Heights garden from My Home Park was installed in 2022.

My Home Park sells combinations of native plants designed to provide a long bloom season and harmonized growth, while attracting and sustaining local pollinators and other wildlife. Filter by options such as the amount of shade and water, soil type, color, and garden size, and your cart is filled with an instant garden that will ship in the spring, packaged in trays of native plants in the plug stage. They arrive by UPS with a planting map, and a video of the planting process is at https://vimeo.com/723584383. After a gift order is placed, the gift recipient receives an email telling them that they have received a garden, and they use the gift code to select the garden of their choice. www.myhomepark.com

Habitat

These local businesses found inspiration in the work of entomologist Doug Tallamy, the influential author of Nature’s Best Hope. This book popularized the concept of using one’s yard as a “homegrown national park,” stating that, “If Americans replanted half of their lawns with native plants, shrubs and trees, we would have more wildlife habitat than all the national parks combined.”

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

A bumblebee visits roundleaf goldenrod (Solidago patula) from Meadow City Native Plant Nursery in Cleveland.

Even if you are not a PhD entomologist from Delaware like Tallamy, it is easy to recognize the importance of plants to wildlife.

Reader Matt from Broadview Heights recently emailed me his commitment to “responsible planting” to help bring back the butterflies, moths, lightning bugs, and even locusts of his memories. He shared, “I am in my 60s and my family moved to Broadview Heights in 1964 when it was still semi-rural. I remember vividly there were so many butterflies back then. Over the years, as the city became overdeveloped, I saw fewer and fewer of them.” One of his favorite memories was seeing thousands of 17-year locusts at his grandparent’s Broadview Heights home in the 1960s. “It was like something out of The Twilight Zone!” he says, but, “I think overbuilding and pollution have decimated the locusts, as I only saw one so far this year.”

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

Gardens from My Home Park come as plugs in the spring and with a planting map.

One More Very Important Gift

Even more than plants, what gardeners want is help in the garden. Just like Michelangelo had assistants when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, we also need a hand bringing our vision to life. So if you give seeds, plants, or a garden to a loved one this holiday season, pair it with the promise of assistance this spring. The resulting wildlife sanctuary will be a masterpiece for the ages that you, your loved ones, and your local ecosystem enjoy.

Read all of Susan Brownstein’s gardening columns here.

Native Plan(e)t Gifts

Meadow City sold plants at area pop-up sales but will move into a brick-and-mortar store in North Collinwood in 2023.

By OngkyF