Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Locating Locally Grown Plants

There is comfort in that tall stack of mail order plant catalogs we’ve accumulated since fall. During the time our gardens slumber, flipping through glossy pages filled with images of flowers in full bloom sustains many a gardener.

Those catalogs are well traveled at a cost to the environment. As are the intensely packaged plants that will arrive on your doorstep at proper planting time if you buy via mail order. With a little of your gardener’s patience, you can reduce your carbon footprint and support local growers by waiting for spring and finding those interesting plants grown locally.

A great place to start is, “The Gardener of the Owl Valley.” A short scenic drive from either York or Lancaster takes you to a quaint cottage surrounded by native plant gardens. Visitors are treated to a good selection of locally grown Pennsylvania native plants and access to proprietor Judy Bono’s expertise.

As well as garden items, gifts and plants, “The Gardener of the Owl Valley” offers two services certainly not found in a catalogue. Judy will find plants for you and will come to your home and help design a native garden. She periodically offers tours of her lovingly tended acre of shaded gardens along the banks of Kreutz Creek. For more information go to:

If you’d like to find locally grown plants at your favorite garden center, Erica Beadle, Nursery Manager at Highland Gardens in Camp Hill, PA, suggests just asking. Erica buys a significant percent of their perennials and annuals regionally, using suppliers in Sunbury, Mechanicsburg and Dillsburg. Her preference for local comes from concern about the environment and the practical interest in keeping freight cost low. If you’re looking for shrubs or trees, Highland Gardens sells stock from Pennsylvania Pride. These plants are identifiable by their distinctive purple pots.

Some growers offer retail. Meadowood Native Plant Nursery started out serving the non-profit sector but quickly saw the need to supply natives plants to home gardners. Meadowood propagates their own plants, grows with native seed sources on site, while sticking with all regionally produced plant material. Meadowood hosts plant sales in the spring and is open to the public by appointment. Call 717-566-9875 or visit

For locally grown bedding plants, Tim Bijold with Tim’s Plants and Greenhouses near Mechanicsburg, grows his own stock for retail. As with many growers, Bijold starts with tiny plants, pots them, then grows them to an appealing size for your garden. He chooses local sources for starter plants as often as possible.

Since you can’t get out and dig just yet and you may need a little comfort from the cold, try flipping through a few of the above sites online. If you’d like to see more local nurseries or nurseries out of the central PA region, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Pennsylvania Preferred program allows you to search for participating nurseries or garden centers.

From there, you can go directly to the nurseries’ website and locate visual respite found in images from the growing season.

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