Fall and early winter are the perfect time in much of the Northern Hemisphere to plant bulbs, woody shrubs and trees, herbaceous perennials and perennial vines in the landscape. It is also a good time to seed spring blooming especially native annual wildflowers.
So, I thought it was just the right time of year as well to chat a little with Heather McCargo founder of the Wild Seed Project in Portland, Maine. Focused on the relationship between seed grown native plants and reweaving healthy ecosystems, Heather learned her love of plants, and growing from seed with plantspeople across the country before founding the Project in 2014. She served as the organization's executive director from 2014 – 2021, and is currently the seed program manager.
In our conversation. Heather shares more about that time in the early 1990s working as propagator at Garden in the Woods, the botanic garden associated with The Native Plant Trust, formerly the New England Wildflower Society, conserving and promoting New England’s Native Plants. While the collection showcases plants of New England, they also study and highlight complementary plants from across the country.
In 2014 after returning with her family from a year living in Barcelona, Spain, Heather realized that as a knowledgeable plantsperson she wanted and needed to do something more about the loss of biodiversity in our world starting right from where she was. The Wild Seed Project was born along with Heather's ongoing advocacy about the importance of growing native plants from seed and protecting the basics of genetic diversity within biodiversity.
The Wild Seed Project envisions a landscape where people help re-populate the landscape to be abundant with native plants (primarily grown from seed) so that we can support wildlife, bio diversity, and buffer the effects of climate change. They invite gardeners around the country - the world in fact – to take their rewild pledge committing to working towards including a minimum of 70% seed grown native plants in your garden. It’s a pledge worth taking.
When you pledge to rewild you commit to:
· Shift away from intensively managed landscapes and harmful practices to mindful acts that benefit wildlife and the planet’s health.
· Restore native plants in urban, suburban, and rural areas to reverse habitat loss and support ecosystem services.
· Work with neighbors, friends, and family to connect habitat and be an advocate for native plants.
You can follow the The Wild Seed Project's work online at: wildseedproject.net/ and on Instagram at @wildseedproject
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JOIN US again next week, when we explore even more deeply into the concept of biodiversity and our relationship in it in conversation with Indigenous Seed Keeper, thinker and advocate Rowen White joined by Gavin Van Horn, the Executive Director and Creative Director of the Center for Humans and Nature, based in Chicago. Gavin is the co=editor and Rowen a contributor to a newly published 5 volume series of books entitled Kinship, Belonging in a World of Relations. Listen in next week!
Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the American Horticultural Society. Soon to Celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, AHS has been a trusted source of high quality gardening and horticultural information since 1922.
Today, AHS’s mission blends education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship with the art and practice of horticulture. Members of AHS receive the award-winning flagship magazine, The American Gardener, free admission and other discounts to more than 345 public gardens with the Reciprocal Admissions Program, plus discounts on books, seeds, programs and more!
Listeners of Cultivating Place can receive a $10 discount on the annual individual membership of $35, by visiting www.ahsgardening.org/CP For your annual Membership to the American Horticultural Society for the special Cultivating Place rate of just $25 a year, head over to www.ahsgardening.org/CP.
Cultivating Place is also proud to receive support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.
For more information on their programs and membership, please visit https://www.cnps.org/
Thinking out loud this week:
This relationship we as biological creatures have to the more wild of our planet mates – the winged, the four-legged, the animal, vegetable, fungal, mineral, microscopic – it is an amazing moment of epiphany when our minds, our eyes, our ears, our hearts can grasp not only that we cannot make our lives without all of who we are, but we are also so much more stronger when we ensure the future of all of who we are – the wild and the cultivated.
Not one at the expense of the other.
I love my garden, but to see my garden's plants as potentially damaging or diminishing the remaining wild of the world does not sit well with me whereas to see that the native plants of my region that I invite into my garden as being not just food and shelter but also adding to the diverse genetic pool for all wild things to keep building and growing from – it places a whole new level of concern but also agency firmly in how and with whom my garden and I grow together.
So yes, more native fertile plants please – and more native seed stewardship and knowledge while we’re at it – please.
And thank you….
I am proud to announce that Cultivating Place is now made possible in part by support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart.
Speaking of heart and the upcoming holidays - The California Native Plant Society’s festive winter games - Wreath Masters is back for season 2. This friendly competition invites California plant lovers to craft wreaths or wreath-like creations from at least 51% California native plants from your own garden or another cultivated source, no wild foraged material please. When you’re ready, submit photos of them into one of the six categories of the competition by December 5th. Celebrating the seasonal beauty of California’s plants in our daily lives together, over 150 wreaths were submitted to the 2020 wreath master fun.
This year, CNPS will host public workshops, virtual demonstrations and more to help competitors complete their wreaths. Bring home the beauty of native plants and join in the Wreath Masters fun! As a judge, I want to see your submission there.
While everyone can enjoy being inspired by the submissions, only California residents are eligible to submit. For All the details head over to www.cnps.org/wreathmasters.
As a judge I also can’t submit, but you can bet I have already started my own winter plant loving seasonal creations. I will share mine on my Instagram stories – join me and CNPS wreath masters updates there – @cultivating_place
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