Toledo — Eric Peterson has just won the Wild Ones Residential Native Landscape award for his beautiful prairie garden. Originally from Sylvania, Mr. Peterson purchased an old farmhouse in western Lucas County three years ago. Not only did he renovate the house, but he restored nature by planting an area in his backyard as 100% wildflower habitat in order to regrow a piece of the Oak Openings Region. He transformed a former farm field to a real wildlife oasis for bluebirds, monarch butterflies, hummingbirds and more.
First, Eric filled in a crumbling swimming pool with local soils, and then cleared out invasive weeds that grew in the new large garden bed between his patio and the pool house. Next, he seeded the area with hardy and eye-catching local native species such as wild columbine, bergamot, dense blazingstar, butterfly milkweed, cut-leaved sunflower, joe-pye weed, black-eyed susan, swamp milkweed, dotted horsemint, gray headed coneflower, tall coreopsis, hoary vervain, four species of asters, as well as, four different goldenrods.
Eric says: “My native garden is surrounded completely by farm fields. In two years since it has grown, several tree frogs, 14 monarch caterpillars, countless lightening bugs, bluebirds, dragonflies, tree swallows, hummingbird moths all have showed up en mass—but only over the native wildflowers– not in other areas yet to be planted in my yard or in the adjacent fields…If you plant it, they will come.””
This year, he has added a small rain garden next to the garage. His next project will be planting a more sizeable butterfly habitat with lots of milkweed, plus nectar and caterpillar host plants on the west side of the property. He hopes this wildflower area will serve as a rest-stop to help the imperiled monarch butterfly refuel during its migration to Mexico.
Mr. Peterson’s garden is a local example of national ecological research by Dr. Doulas Tallamy and others, showing that growing gardens with native plants are far superior in attracting and sustaining wildlife. Dr. Tallamy notes that the positive change for nature happens very quickly, even by adding just one or two native plants a year.
Eric enjoys observing how to best grow particular species, and which pollinators and other wildlife visit the plants. As a member of Wild Ones, he shares extra plants and seeds with other native gardeners, and is especially interested in helping to provide
resources for nature education.
Wild Ones is a national not-for-profit organization with over 40 chapters that teach about the benefits of growing wildflowers and other native plants in residential and public landscapes. They also help to restore local natural areas. The Oak Openings Region chapter serves all of Northwest Ohio and nearby southeast Michigan. Throughout the year, they have monthly education programs, field trips, garden tours, and stewardship activities. All of these events are free and open to the public.
Additional Wild Ones awards were also presented. The Native Landscape Award Winner in Non-Profit/Public Agency Category was Simpson Garden Park in the City of Bowling Green. Honorable Mention Awards went to two downtown Toledo gardens: Toledo GROWS Manos Community Garden and the joint Owens Community College Urban Ag/Toledo GROWS Oneida Garden.
The Wild Ones Oak Openings chapter has key leadership roles in the nationwide “Wild for Monarchs” conservation program to protect the Monarch butterfly. The chapter also partners with other area conservation organizations: the Olander Park System, Toledo Botanical Garden, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, The 577 Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Wood County Park District, Wood County Master Gardeners, Green Ribbon Initiative, the Ohio Division of Natural Area and Preserves, Bowling Green City Parks, and Naturally Native Nursery. They publish a monthly electronic newsletter for their members. A complimentary 3 issue subscription is available to those interested.
The public is invited to attend the January 14 Wild Ones program in Olander Park at 7 pm, “How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden” presented by Karen Wood.
To find out more about growing native plants in our area, contact Wild Ones: http://oakopenings.wildones.org, or by email: WIldOnesOakOpeningsRegion@gmail.com FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/wildonesoakopenings