Preserving and Growing Local Native Ecotypes
Native plants and low maintenance gardening practices can reduce the need for water, fertilizer and pesticides as well as reduce the effects of climate change. Native plants also support pollinators, beneficial insects and other wildlife species and are vital to preserving biodiversity. To support these efforts, Midwest Natural Garden nursery was established in 2011.
Walter Stephens founded The Natural Garden in 1953 after rescuing a variety of native species from being destroyed by a development project. Nearly 60 years later, Midwest Groundcovers purchased the property and has kept the integrity of the local ecotype plants and the original native stock plants and seed beds. In 2016, conservation work and site development began under the consultation of Restoration Ecologist Jens Jensen from Jensen Ecology. Sections of the 29-acre site were graded and a series of step pools installed to reduce erosion and direct stormwater into the pond. A vegetative bioswale and wetland area were added to capture sediment and “clean” the water for irrigation use. A selection of native plugs and prairie seed mix was planted on the pond’s edge for pollinators. In 2017, controlled burns were begun to assist in managing invasives and non-natives. We continue to restore on-site, existing natural areas and develop new ones. Habitats include woodland, prairie, wetland, and a stream restoration.
Midwest Natural Garden is a neonicotinoid-free production nursery that produces over 1 million units annually. The broad selection of over 300 species of Natural Garden Natives® forbs and grasses are grown from seed that has its origin from plants growing in remnant natural areas within 90 miles of the St. Charles nursery. These plants genetically evolved over time which makes them well adapted to our local growing conditions.
Year over year, we continue to see tremendous growth in our native plant sales. The Sustainable SITES Initiative and LEED building standards of the U.S. Green Building Council recommend and encourage the use of native plants in design and construction. At Midwest Natural Garden, we grow local ecotype species that will flourish in Midwestern landscape projects.
|2011||2021||# Increase||% Increase|
|Total Native Sales in Units||825,864||1,124,824||298,930||36.2%|
|% Natives to Total Sales||14.9%|