Why do we care?

Grow Native Massachusetts advocates personal action, and we aspire to build a movement that captures the hearts and imaginations of all citizens who are lucky enough who have access to gardens and green spaces. We promote an ethic that recognizes the importance of our choices in planting and cultivating to the quality and character of our collective ecosystem. We understand that our urban built environment is as much a part of the organic fabric of life as is any remote forest or “wild” place.

Here are our top ten reasons to care. We hope you will join our movement.

  • In the last four centuries on this continent we have fragmented what was once a continuous ecosystem into discontinuous and ever smaller and smaller parcels of land, mostly in private ownership. Over 90% of the lands in Massachusetts are privately owned, and much of that is in parcels smaller than one acre. Over 90% of the population lives in the cities and suburbs. We are in this together and all of us—urban, suburban, or any other dwellers—are now the stewards of our common ecosystem.

  • Many migrating bird species—including Baltimore Orioles, American Kestrels, Ovenbirds, Wood Thrushes, Eastern Towhees, some warbler species, and others— are in decline. As development has accelerated, native woodlands have been replaced by subdivisions and houses (with lawns and a few ornamental plants) or shopping centers and highways (with lots of asphalt). But we can recreate continuous bird-friendly habitat by working together to plant native trees throughout our cities and suburbs, and landscaping our homes and public spaces with natives of all kind. Everything we plant makes a difference.

  • Native plants are beautiful. There are great choices for every season, and a myriad of options for any color, texture, or characteristic you might desire.

  • A healthy ecosystem, with strong native plant communities as its base, provides an important context for local organic farming operations. With a good balance of predators and prey in the food web, such as lots of birds or bats to eat insects, it is a lot easier to avoid the use of herbicides or pesticides when growing food. Gardening with native plants and supporting local agriculture go hand in hand.

  • More and more invasive plants are overtaking our neighborhoods. In eastern Massachusetts, Black Swallowwort—one of the most troublesome of all because of how difficult it is to control once it is established—is now increasingly found in our hedges, on our fences, among our perennials, and almost everywhere. Every invasive population that gets established in our gardens makes the work of maintaining those special places even more difficult. The sooner we stop them, the easier our lives will be.

  • Property boundaries are the invention of humans and they mean nothing to plants. So no place will stay immune to the growing threats of invasives unless we tackle this problem together—gardeners, land managers, farmers, homeowners, city folk, country folk, one and all. Coordinated community-based efforts are needed; isolated efforts make the challenge much harder to overcome. And locally, any native plant restoration work will be even more successful if we who live adjacent to that land take steps to remove the invasives on our lands, too. Somehow, all those seeds just don’t know that they are not supposed to cross property lines!

  • At Grow Native Massachusetts we support coordinated efforts with friends and neighbors to get rid of invasives or plant new native trees. Throw a work party in your back yard because, let’s face it, who wants to dig out knotweed by himself or herself?

  • Like the migrating songbirds, butterflies too, are in decline—and you guessed it, because of the loss of native plants and habitat all over the state. Interestingly, butterflies are very particular about where they lay their eggs, and only certain species of native plants serve as the hosts for any particular species of butterfly larva. We need a lot more native host plants to support the more than one-hundred species of butterflies still found in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, seven species of butterflies are currently on the Massachusetts Endangered Species List, and several other species are already extinct.

  • With more natives in your gardens you will begin to notice more birds, butterflies, caterpillars and cool things you have never seen before. Sit on your back porch or front porch, or lie on the ground and observe nature all around you. It is rich and fun and intriguing.

  • The future is in your hands and under your feet.