Environmental Concerns

Goal:  To support continuous environmental improvements that foster a sustainable future and ensure a healthy environment for all members of our community by employing best practices and promoting environmental awareness.

Rain Gardens –   Here are designs and instructions for Rain gardens  a real friend to your yard’s environment.

To see designs for your garden first click here Rain Garden Designs.   Then click on the picture which appears.

To see instructions for care of your rain gardens first click here Instructions – Rain Gardens.  Then click on each of the words in the list that appears.

Deer Resistant plants  -Suzanne has posted the following list of Deer Resistant Plants as requested by many of you at the Centennial meeting.

The Importance of Native Plants

Suzanne Smith-Oscilowski Environmental Chair, Ambler Keystone Branch 

What Are Native Plants? They are plants that have been growing naturally in a particular area before humans introduced other plants from distant locations. Native plants typically grow in communities with species adapted to specific soil, moisture and climate conditions. What Makes Native Plants Special?

  • Native plants have deeper root systems that help the soil absorb and retain water.
  • Native plants have co-evolved with native insects over thousands of years.

What is the Benefit of Native Plants?

  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Increase water infiltration
  • Important to wildlife
  • Beautiful

 Native Plant Maintenance Requirements Low. Low. Low. Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They don’t require fertilizers or pesticides and, once they are established, they don’t require irrigation. No need to deadhead native plants… mother nature never did! Leaving the seed heads or seed pods on the plant can be attractive and provide important food for wildlife. Native plants save the homeowner time and money!  

Native Plants and Water Infiltration Deep roots penetrate the soil and allow water to run along the pore space created by the thin fibrous roots. This helps recharge rivers, streams, and creeks and keeps our water cleaner.

Does the Root Zone Matter? Yes. Native plants can reach deep into the ground to find water during dry periods. When it rains, their long roots help storm water infiltrate the soil and recharge ground water. Water penetrates the soil by running along the edge of the plant’s fine, fibrous roots. A deeper root zone is better! Turf grass has a root zone extending 3 – 4 inches into the ground resulting in significant storm water run-off. Native gardens and other “naturalistic” landscape designs significantly decrease storm water run-off. Some native plants, such as the Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), have root zones that extend 16 feet into the ground!

What Thin Fibrous Roots? I don’t see any. Ahhh, but those roots are there. When you dig up a Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), you may observe only 8 – 12 inches of roots but you have severed an additional 12- 24 inches of fine, fibrous threadlike roots. These fibrous roots provide an important pathway for water to infiltrate the soil. They also help the plant acquire water during dry periods.

Native Plants and Wildlife Native plants have co-evolved with native insects over thousands of years. Local insects need native plants to survive. Most insects don’t recognize or cannot eat non-native plant species. Without native plants, insect populations will continue to decline. Many animals depend partially or wholly on insect protein for food. Fewer native plants result in fewer insects available to feed wildlife and therefore less wildlife.  Making Sure Your Plant Selection is Truly Native Native plants are available at native plant nurseries. Some natives are also available at local nurseries and garden centers. To ensure you are getting the plant you expect, check the plant’s tag using the complete Latin name, not the common name. Many plants have several common names but the Latin name will always be the same! Make sure that both Latin names are on the tag. If the first Latin name is the same but the second Latin name is different, the plant may be of the same specie of the same genus, but not native.

Take a list to the nursery and match both Latin names. For example: Black Tupelo, Tupelo or Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica) River Birch or Water Birch (Betula nigra) Eastern Redbud or Redbud (Cercis canadensis) White Turtlehead or Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Suzanne leads our Environmental interest group and was responsible for the Centennial 100,000 Native Plants project.  She is happy to take your questions or comments. Suzanne Smith-Oscilowski, suzgarden416@verizon.net,   215-616-2403 home 215-740-7264 cell 416 Gwynedd Valley Dr. Lower Gwynedd, PA 19002


100,000 Native Plant Project The WNF&GA 100th Anniversary Native Plant Project culminated in planting the 100,000th native plant as a tree in the Dogwood Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum during the 2014 Annual Meeting.

Partnership Efforts

In an effort to expand the emphasis on native plants, the WNF&GA has partnered with several Pennsylvania local organizations. Are there local organizations to partner with in your area? Check with local high schools, colleges, churches, civic and environmental organizations.


  • Members around the country continue to support the project by selecting native plant alternatives for their local garden projects.
  • In an effort to spread the word on “Natives”, partnerships was established with the following organizations:
    • Temple University Arboretum
    • Temple University School of Environmental Design
    • Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association
    • Norristown Garden Club
    • The Highlands Mansion and Gardens
    • Pennypack Farm and Garden Center





Chrysogonum virginianum

Common Names- Golden Knee, Green and Gold Source- Mt. Cuba Center

National Native Plant Databases

Massachusetts and New England

Michigan and Great Lakes Area

New Jersey

New York


  • Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes (General information and state specific for Michigan, New York, Ohio) http://www.wildones.org/


Click on the following link to see the Power Point presentation Suzanne gave us at the National Meeting in June 2013: 100,000 NATIVE PLANT PROJECT