About

This project began as a personal memory-bank where I keep names and personal notes on plants easily accessible for myself and friends. I recently published my first graphic novel, The Yard Next Door, which is a fictional story about a group of woodland creatures that go on journey to find a fabled native habitat ON SALE NOW.

Location

Plants referred to as “native” on this website refer to natives and ‘near-natives’ of Maryland USA. This category does not include plants that are considered ‘naturalized’.

Benefits of native plants

  • Provide much needed food and shelter for native wildlife. Since local animals and insect-life have co-evolved with native plants to feed and support each other. Invasive or introduced species provide little benefit to wildlife and can starve entire populations when used en masse.
  • Reduction of pests and ticks. Some species of popular non-native/invasive plants (such as Invasive Barberry, Berberis thunbergii), provides optimal protection for large communities of white-footed mice (a known tick vector).
  • Native plants reduce erosion. Fast-growing invasives tend to have many shallow root systems and outcompete most of everything in their path (including many other species with deeper, soil-stabilizing root systems such as trees). In many instances, this creates a monoculture of medium to shallow-rooted plants which in turn leads to water runoff and flooding.
  • Reduction of air pollution from mowing (natives require less mowing).
  • Reduced water use (a native plant in its “happy place” will thrive better with little watering, fertilizer and care compared to standard invasive lawn-grass).
  • No need for pesticide. With native plants, one of your goals will be to feed all the nature. If there are holes in your leaves that just means you’ve given some animal or insect a meal. Good job!
  • It’s rewarding to plant and manage natives knowing that you’re restoring natural habitat, and helping local birds, insects, and animals.
  • Native plants are both versatile and beautiful

On non-native invasive species

I have also added a brief page of invasive plants that should never be included in a garden/yard, and I plan to add a few things about non-native, non-invasive plants (if you really want to plant something non-beneficial, but you like it because you think it’s pretty) there are options that won’t degrade your surrounding ecosystem.

Personal philosophy snippet on native v invasive species

I like to think that most plants belong somewhere. What is invasive here is most likely beneficial in another part of the world and vice versa. I wish to regard all species (native or non) with respect. Some people hold resentment and other sour feelings towards invasive species, but here in the 21st century, we really only have ourselves to blame.

Can I eat it?

I claim no responsibility for your foraging habits, your identification skills or life-threatening allergies to an ‘edible’ plant you have not yet eaten. I am an artist, not a botanist, and you should do your own research before eating anything listed on this website.


My daytime job is primarily making comics and rebuilding the house I live in. Tips can be left at:


Contact

ellen@actsofpaint.com