The Native Plant Garden is a gift of the Leon Levy Foundation.
The new Native Plant Garden is a cutting-edge 3.5-acre installation with a dramatic 230-foot-long water feature as its centerpiece, making it the most contemporary garden design ever created at The Botanical Garden. The Native Plant Garden, accompanied by educational materials and programs, and a major permanent endowment to secure its future, was made possible by a gift from the Leon Levy Foundation.
The Native Plant Garden was designed by Oehme, van Sweden, landscape architects specializing in the New American Garden style, to harmonize a stunning designed terrain with the diversity of microclimates across the site. The layout, in the middle of the Botanical Garden's historic grounds, is both sustainable and visually inventive, a radical blend of modern sensibilities along with environmentally friendly elements.
Built to inspire and teach visitors about the beauty of native flora throughout the seasons, it also illustrates how native plants can be used to produce attractive and imaginative gardens. The enclosed facility features a central pool with water cascading over stone weirs. A promenade of broad boardwalks made from black locust, a native hardwood, and intimate paths lead visitors through a range of settings, from the shaded woodland to the dry, open meadow, and lush wetlands featuring nearly 100,000 plants. The garden has as its framework a dramatic set of heritage oak trees and is bursting with native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers, confirming that native plants can be as magnificent as their exotic counterparts more commonly used in traditional gardens. A covered outdoor classroom pavilion offers a venue for school groups and others to learn about native plants and the birds and insects they sustain.
The Native Plant Garden celebrates the exquisiteness and diversity of native plants and the contributions they make to the Botanical Garden's landscape throughout the seasons. In spring, carpets of trillium, bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, and a mix of other beautiful ephemerals, along with accents of lady slipper orchids, are all part of the great variety of stunning plants native to northeastern North America that are on display. Meadow grasses dance in summer winds as sunlight dapples through the canopies of the nearby stately oaks and other large native trees. Red- stemmed dogwoods and golden birches flash against the blue autumn sky above and the russet red and purple hues of the grasses and bulbs in their fall glory. Winter reveals the intricate architecture of the ancient trees towering above bedrock knolls, while abundant clusters of red winterberry fruit add eye-catching color to brown twigs.
The Native Plant Garden is as sustainable as it is aesthetically dazzling. Environmentally-friendly, locally-sourced, and recycled materials are used in many parts of this garden. The pool is fed by recycled stormwater captured on site and filtered by aquatic plants. Benches and buildings are constructed of salvaged, recycled, and sustainably harvested materials. Native plants, chosen for their visual impact, sustainability, and adaptability are the defining features of the regional biome. These plants evolved along with the physical conditions and living communities that coexist with them. Offering many environmental benefits, they filter water and air, prevent erosion, and provide shelter for wildlife while also supporting the food web.