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Natural Lands Trust at the Morris Arboretum Plant Sale

May 9, 2014

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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Morris Arboretum has graciously invited Natural Lands Trust to staff a booth at its annual plant sale, to promote native plants and talk about why we encourage people to plant them. The variety of plants available at the sale is staggering, and if you know about local arboreta plant sales you know that many of these unusual varieties are not widely available except at these institutions’ plant sales. The plant sale is Morris Arboretum members-only on Friday but will open to the public Saturday, 10 – 3. Thanks to our generous friends at Morris Arboretum, Natural Lands Trust members can shop today, May 9, during the Members-Only Day of the plant sale and enjoy 10% off your purchase both Friday and Saturday. Call our membership department at 610-353-5587 for your membership coupon.

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There is a nice selection of native plants available there, and we are retelling the narrative of Doug Tallamy’s book, Bringing Nature Home, which argues that we should plant a diversity of natives and then tolerate some insect damage on them, since insects are bird food too and they are the base of the natural food web. This turns traditional horticulture on its head, since gardeners traditionally sought out those plants that were least likely to show insect damage.

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I was particularly thrilled to be there yesterday for a preview sale because I was an intern at Morris Arboretum 23 years ago. I visited with many friends still there and enjoyed seeing all the good work they are doing. Above is part of the relatively new horticulture center with a green roof that had killdeer nesting on it. Cisterns collect rainwater and it is used to flush the toilets. The office building there is LEED Platinum certified and trimmed with beautiful wood from downed trees from the arboretum.

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I had time in between shifts to tour the gardens and natural areas of the arboretum. I got to see the just-completed re-route of the natural areas trail on the slope above the Wissahickon. Despite being on a steep slope the trail is easy going and more sustainable than the old, eroded one. Being on a steep slope puts you in the canopy of the trees below, and so the birding was great. The warblers, woodpeckers, and wood ducks were out—all inside the city limits of Philadelphia.

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The garden design there is wonderful, a tribute to John and Lydia Morris and an asset to our region. I also spent some time exploring the “Out on a Limb” feature, an elevated catwalk that gets you out into the canopy of the forest, complete with giant birds nest. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited Morris Arboretum, or if you’ve never been, there’s no better time than now.

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