The increased demand for native perennials comes from a deep desire among gardeners and communities to strengthen and reconnect with local ecosystems. Planting North American species in the garden and landscape does exactly that. The shared history provides food, homes, and hiding places for the birds, butterflies, and bees.
Originally, gardens separated themselves from native landscapes by using exotic, highly cultivated plants. However, as undeveloped spaces became more rare, so did the species and natural beauty that came with them. Now, the trend has reversed and gardeners want to re-integrate into their natural surroundings with native perennials.
A barrier to wider adoption is a reputation for thuggish behavior, weedy habits, or unattractive appearance. The solutions are better native varieties that retain their ecosystem support and work well within gardens and landscapes commonly found in American towns. By carefully selecting individuals of a wild species with desirable traits, modern horticulture now provides numerous natives that are attractive and well-behaved for the gardener and useful to the local ecosystem.
These five plants are both good natives and good perennials. Handsome enough to be sold and planted side by side with more intensively bred exotic varieties, they also have an authenticity that wouldn’t be out of place in a strictly native landscape planting.
We felt these excellent varieties deserved to have their merits showcased. Each one is an improvement. Some have more flowers, appealing to us and useful to pollinators. Some have impressive foliage that extends their season of color. Because of their strengths, they are as beautiful to us as they are important to the fauna that depend on them.