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Riverkeeper: Guide to Native Plants for your Garden

How often do you plant something in your garden simply because it looks pretty and/or smells nice. In this modern age, we are offered selections of flowers and plants that our ancestors never even dreamed would ever grow in this climate. But just because something is able to grow in Buffalo doesn’t mean that it was intended to grow here.

Much of the invasive species that we see today were planted due to their ability to adapt to hardy conditions, yet the repercussions to our natural environment were never considered. Over the years we have been accustomed to planting anything we want, anywhere we want. Unfortunately that’s not the best practice, especially when we consider our waterways and the insects that we rely on to pollinate our flowers. Not to mention the indigenous plants that actually help with pest control.

In order to help us understand the importance of indigenous plants, an invaluable guide has been published that shows us the importance of planting the flora that was intended to be here all along. Did you know that native plants need less water?

According to Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, “Landowners can play a significant role in the stewardship of our local waters, especially in the way they design, plant and care for their properties. With this guide we really wanted to help Western New Yorkers create more sustainable landscapes, improving habitat and requiring less maintenance, while also fostering water conservation and pollutant reduction”.

Gardens planted with native plants are more sustainable and resilient. They also help to support the local wildlife that relies on the plants to grow. Did you know that milkweed, while not being the most attractive plant, is the nutritious lifeline for Monarch butterfly? For years we have been removing the milkweed (urban sprawl, prettier flowers, etc.) while inadvertently helping to decimate the once flourishing population of Monarchs. Not just the Monarchs, but the pollinators that also depend on native plants and flowers.

“Protecting water quality is a top priority for this administration. The County is happy to partner with the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper to help print this important guide so that citizens can plan beautiful native gardens that will reduce pesticide use and also provide habitat for pollinators,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.


*Beautifully illustrated, the hard cover Guide outlines over 90 different plants native to Western New York, including old favorites like Purple Cone Flower and Redosier Dogwood, to the horticulturally significant Paw Paw or American Cranberry Bush. Everything from groundcovers and vines to grasses and trees are represented. The guide is available at select locations throughout the region, and is also obtainable via digital download by clicking here.


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • weaves32

    Any idea where some of the “select locations” are?

  • buffalorr

    One of the best locations to view native plants is at the new park on the outer harbor.

  • jvgriffis

    BRO needs a “Like” button for the entire article. Bravo for bringing this issue up.
    If you just plop down a cheap bush or perennial that’s a native to Asia or Europe, you might as well just plant something plastic instead. The color will last longer, and it will be just as useful to your local environment.

  • Opuntia humifusa

    GinghamQuaker weaves32 
    From the link in the article:
    Free print copies are available to the public at our office
    (721 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203) and at the following locations
    until supplies last:
    Birchfield Nature & Art Center (2001 Union Rd, West Seneca, NY 14224)Urban Roots (428 Rhode Island St, Buffalo, NY 14213)DEC of WNY (270 Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14203)Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens (2655 S Park Ave, Buffalo, NY 14218)Erie County Cornell Cooperative Extension (21 S Grove St, East Aurora, NY 14052)Niagara County Cornell Cooperative Extension (4487 Lake Ave, Lockport, NY 14094)Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District (50 Commerce Way, East Aurora, NY 14052)Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District (4487 Lake Ave, Lockport, NY 14094)Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve (93 Honorine Dr, Depew, NY 14043)Grassroots Gardens (2495 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14214)Massachusetts Avenue Project (271 Grant St, Buffalo, NY 14213) Tifft Nature Preserve (1200 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo, New York 14203)US Fish & Wildlife (405 N French Rd # 120A, Amherst, NY 14228)

  • JSmith11

    The link at the bottom of the article includes the locations which will be giving out physical copies.

  • foreverbflo

    Nothing new here. Been doing this and using them+ for 18 years – as have other professionals and ecology based services…… I see little – or no – focus on the soil biology. That is EVERYTHING. You can plant what and all you want but until the soil biology is in order, none of it counts. 
    Everything – literally – is about the soil. All of it. 
    But, great to get this out to the public. Thanks BRO and BNR. Good job!!
    This should inspire homeowners and small businesses to focus on the beneficials rather than invasives and non-natives. 
    Some folks balk when they here that we select native trees, grasses and shrubs and perennials based on how many insects will feed on them or birds will nest in them….. Yep. 
    We select the plants first based on which insects or even mammals will feed  on the plants (herbivory). This is the main reason to using native genus’s and species: herbivory. Period. Everything else is secondary. 
    Please keep posting these types of articles. They are far more important than people may think. 
    Perhaps, in light of the Gov’t recent $50 million devoted to addressing honey bees and pollinators…. the NYS DOT can set the example by stop mowing the Thruway and several of our state highways. This would allow natives to regenerate and save $ on mowing, reduce green house gases, and more…. 
    Or, is it just me? Maybe it will take away from union mowing jobs? 
    Just sayin.

  • OldFirstWard

    The State has cut back on mowing, but mowing is needed in certain areas for safety reasons, visibility, and to allow motorists to see deer grazing and react accordingly.  As for the greenhouse gases, I doubt the mower contributes anything close to a snow plow and salt truck.