Why Natives?

wooden porch swingThe porch swing swaying behind the LSU Hilltop Arboretum is the perfect backdrop for an afternoon chat, and Debbie Corbo is the ideal companion if you’re curious about plants. A longtime Hilltop volunteer, Corbo is generous with her horticultural knowledge. She is equal parts gardening enthusiast and encyclopedia while she discusses the natural world. As she readily relates scientific names of flora and fauna, one question comes to mind – why natives?

“Local is good,” says Corbo. She points out the interconnectedness of plants, animals and even insects on our planet. Native plants are important to the ecosystem, with birds, butterflies and a range of animals and insects depending on their availability. Many of these creatures make long migratory treks. Just imagine a monarch without the native milkweed that’s growing in your yard. If you’re reminded of Disney’s “The Lion King” and the great circle of life, you’re on the right track!

Ecosystems aside, there is another reason to choose native plants. Corbo says they are generally easy to maintain, making them a great selection for the novice gardener. Native plants are accustomed to the climate, including south Louisiana’s brutal heat and humidity. Many of these rugged plants also enjoy a soggy yard since they were originally discovered on the edges of wetlands, in swamps or even roadside ditches. Having long lived in Louisiana, native plants are perfectly happy in our environment which makes for perfectly happy gardeners.

The volunteers at Hilltop Arboretum specialize in native Louisiana plants. From the Cajun Prairie inspired wildflower meadow to the trees and shrubs that line the walkways, much of Louisiana’s most loved plant life is on display. Hilltop is a great place to learn more about these plants and how you can incorporate them into your own backyard oasis. Or, if you’d rather, Hilltop’s porch swing offers a relaxing space to simply chat and observe native plants in their natural surroundings.

oakleaf hydrangea plant tag showing native statusInterested in a more native Louisiana landscape? The annual Spring Fling Plant Sale is coming up just in time for spring planting.

Saturday, April 17, 2021
9:00am - 4:00pm

Hilltop volunteers, like Corbo, will be on hand to share their gardening know-how and expertise. Look for the “Native Plant” signs posted in pots and on tables to ensure that you are getting the flower or bush that our migrating friends need to fuel their journeys.

Hope to see you there!