Bucks Beautiful lecture on native plants draws sizeable crowd

    by Beth Hauptle

    “Turtlehead. Beard tongue. Black-eyed Susan.” No, these are not the cries of bullies on the elementary school playground. These are the names of a few plants that are native to this part of Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic.

    Bucks Beautiful’s Annual Lecture Series continued on the evening of April 16th with “Native Plant Gardening: Bringing Our Natives Into the Design Yard,” a lecture by Wendy Brister.

    Wendy is a garden designer and lecturer in the Mid-Atlantic area and an adjunct professor at the Community College of Baltimore County.

    The lecture took place in the Life Sciences Building at Delaware Valley University.

    It was co-sponsored by Bucks Beautiful and the Women’s National Farm & Garden Association.

    The event drew around 250 participants eager to learn more about how to integrate native plants into their home landscapes.

    According to Wendy, “Many people like a clean and tidy yard and associate native plants with restorations or meadows or woodlands. Many examples of native plantings done by home gardeners tend to appear too wild for the general public. If we are going to help promote the use of native plants, we need to give examples of gardens that people will feel comfortable having on their property.”

    So why would one want to incorporate native plants into our home landscapes?

    Wendy explained that native plants support local pollinators, provide food and shelter for many species, attract birds and butterflies and help to manage water runoff.

    Besides, they’re beautiful and tend to grow well in their native environment.

    Another benefit, Wendy added, is that one can eliminate the cost and hassle of mulch. “Plants like to touch,” she said. “They are social and like to be near one another.” By planting many of the same plants close together, the need for mulch is eliminated as the plants serve to block the growth of undesirable weeds.

    To get started, Wendy explained how one could take a more traditional landscape plot and replace the exotics with native plants based on color, height of plant, flow of design and plant textures.

    She noted that many such plot designs are available online. Once a plan is in place, shop at a local garden center that stocks native plants.

    “The Henry Schmieder Arboretum has been instrumental in demonstrating how beneficial native plantings can be in your landscape no matter the size of your property,” said Denise Sezack, Executive Director of Bucks Beautiful. “In today’s environmentally conscious society many homeowners have an increased interest in native plantings, however it can sometimes be difficult to incorporate them into a formal traditional landscape setting. Bucks Beautiful and the Women’s National Farm & Garden Association co-sponsored the Wendy Brister talk to encourage gardeners to learn more about bringing natives into the design structure of the home landscape,” she added.

    According to its website, Bucks Beautiful’s goal is to complement the reputation of Bucks County with a parade of lush, distinctive gardens. Individuals, organizations and businesses are invited to participate in Bucks Beautiful and beautify towns, schools, parks, roadsides and pathways throughout the county.

    To learn more about its programs and upcoming lectures, visit

    PHOTO CAP: Lecturer Wendy Brister and Laurie To, Communications Manager, Bucks Beautiful.