Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Virtual Field Trip: Hyla Brook Farm

Hyla Brook Farm
Louisa, VA
Local Native Plants

Fast forward a few months and cue the following: The sounds of songbirds, the scent of phlox and the sight of butterflies and bumble bees happily hopping from one vibrant native plant to another. Life is plum for the wildlife on Hyla Brook Farm. And with good reason. They have been provided a nurturing habitat - with its roots in native plants. The way nature originally intended.

Started in 2000 by Brian and Marcy Wagner, Hyla Brook Farm is located in Louisa County, VA. So they truly know about what is native to this area. And what works. And what thrives.

They offer over 300 native plants through their mail-order catalog - including shrubs, perennials and vines. Brian and Marcy have backgrounds in environmental education and biology - so spreading the love about native plants comes naturally to them.

Their 2005 catalog is available on-line, with an updated appendix for this year's additions and new plants. And it is drool-worthy. Every year, I try to catalog information on several more native plants - just to learn - and this is where I start. They deliver within 150 miles of the nursery.

Hyla Brook also offers open-houses and inspiring but very applicable and functional workshops such as Butterfly Gardening (June 9th); Creating a Drought Tolerant Garden (August 25th - yes, indeed!); and Creating a Deer Resistant Garden (October 13th). You can also call them for an appointment to visit the farm.

Remember that natives are particularly important in the organic and sustainable gardening scene because they don't need much in the way of fertilizer or pesticides, they require less water, and they attract the wildlife that contributes to the optimal ecosystem for your land.

For me, one of the most exciting things I experience while visiting their site is learning that some of the plants I have always loved are actually natives. Now I can lust away - guilt-free. My wish list for this year includes the Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), False Blue Indigo (Baptisia australis), Phlox (Phlox paniculata), Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) and Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum). Oh, yes - and a backyard full of butterflies . . .

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