At the end of last week someone in Rockport pointed me to a letter to the editor in the BenBayPilot entitled No good deed shall go unpunished. I am sorry to hear that the dedicated volunteers sometimes get comments that feel critical, when they were trying to do good for the community.
I would like to make people aware that whoever the passerby was, their intention for asking for native plants was also well meaning and in interest of the greater good. We have loss a tremendous amount of natural habitat in the last few decades, even in beautiful and rural Maine. And it is the native plants that are the foundation of that habitat. When they are gone, so go the pollinating insects, birds, and all the other creatures that make up a healthy functioning ecosystem. This loss of biodiversity is one of the leading causes of the climate crisis.
There are quite a few native plants that can thrive it the challenging roadside environment, taking road salt, heat, drought and then winter ice and snowplows.
Several beautiful and showy ones that come to mind are butterfly milkweed, flax-leaved stiff aster, and little bluestem.
For people interested in learning how to plant natives in these “hell strips,” they can read our blog https://wildseedproject.net/2018/04/hellstrip-plantings-creating-habitat-space-sidewalk-curb.
We are all living in a very stressful time, and the quick rush of summer is always frantic in Maine. Adding some native species to all of our developed landscapes is a positive act that we all can do, and they are beautiful.
Heather McCargo is executive director of the Wild Seed Project, in Portland