Native Gardens at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Environmental & Cultural Center 

 

The Lake Hopatcong Railroad Station was constructed in 1911. The Lackawanna railroad built a beautiful station but never established gardens. This area remained wooded for much of the station’s history. In developing a landscape plan, we believed it was important to establish a garden with plants native to the area. 

 

Why Native Plants? 

Because native plants are adapted to the local area, they require less water, are less susceptible to pests and diseases, do not generally need fertilizer, and are unlikely to escape and become invasive. These important plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that feed native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals.  Unlike natives, plants imported from other parts of the world often require insect pest control to survive. We hope you will see how lovely a native garden can be and add native plants to your yard. 

 

Medicinal Uses 

Almost every plant in this garden was used by Native Americans. Some are edible or were used to make a flavored tea. Many were used to treat wounds and a wide range of ailments. Plants were also used to dye hides and clothes, as food seasonings, and for ceremonial and religious ceremonies. 

 

Hybrids vs. Native Plants 

Hybrids are intentionally bred to enhance a desirable trait such as the height or color of a plant, its disease resistance, or the size of its fruit, flower, or nut. Most local retail nurseries and big box stores carry hybrid plants as they are considered easier to sell. While hybrids may appear more attractive with double blooms or an exciting new color, they may hurt wildlife which may not be able to reach nectar and pollen on these altered varieties. Additionally, some hybrid varieties are sterile and do not produce viable seeds to support seed-eating birds. Hybrids are generally reproduced through vegetative propagation, making them genetic clones. Less genetic diversity transmitted to the next generation of plants leaves the species at risk for disease and decay of its genetic line.  ​

Native plants occur naturally in a region in which they evolved, providing genetic diversity and supporting local ecosystems. Since they are best adapted to local environmental conditions, native plants are generally easier to grow. Native bees, honey bees, and other pollinators are facing serious challenges. Growing native plants in your garden can attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife and provide nectar and pollen resources for pollinators. 

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