A butterfly rests on a milkweed plant in Veronica Chavez s backyard. Milkweeds are host plants for Monarch butterflies.
A butterfly rests on a milkweed plant in Veronica Chavez s backyard. Milkweeds are host plants for Monarch butterflies. (WEEKLY RECORD SONYA PACLOB)
Learn first-hand this month how to use native plants to make your garden more environmentally friendly.

Join this year's eighth annual Gar dening With Native Plants Tour from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 29 and visit five gar dens to see how to use native plants to conserve water, reduce pesticide and fertilizer use and to create habitat for wildlife.

In the event of rain the tour will be held June 30 during the same hours.

The properties on the tour range in size from a small garden in York City to a 12-acre site with multiple native gar dens.

At each stop learn the successes and challenges of creating a backyard hab itat and what plants work well together. Gather ideas for transforming your yard into a place that welcomes wildlife.

Master Gardeners Rich and Linda Silverman started with a few native plants and today their garden includes more than 139 varieties of plants, every thing from the common milkweed, a host plant for the Monarch butterfly, to a variety of grasses that provide seed for birds and stems that shelter insects when cold winter winds blow.

“I love all the grasses and we have a variety that grow in our meadow. I like all of them but I think the Little Blue Stem is my favorite, although each year or two my favorite changes as I add new plants,” Linda Silverman said.

They welcomed the tour to their garden in 2008 and Linda Silverman has chaired the event since it began in 2006.

Their garden is a Penn State Polli nator Friendly Garden and named a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the Na tional Wildlife Federation.

“Birds and bees need to have a place to go to lay their eggs and raise their young, to find food and shelter,” Silverman said.

Veronica Chavez, whose garden is on the tour, is a new Master Gardener, Class of 2012, but she has been planting na tives for quite some time, Silverman said.

Butterfly weeds bloom in Veronica Chavez s backyard.
Butterfly weeds bloom in Veronica Chavez s backyard. (WEEKLY RECORD SONYA PACLOB)

“She is very know ledgeable and lives in York City. We don't often get city sites, so this is a real plus. The property is little but oh, what she did with it is ter rific,” Silverman said.

Chavez's garden, at 20 feet by 26 feet, may be small but that doesn't matter to the birds, bees and butterflies who flock to the site.

“I like gardening, I like digging in the dirt and I really enjoy the wildlife that comes to the yard,” Chavez said.

Her plant list is long, with varieties that bloom “spring, summer and fall,” and her choices include butterfly weed, bee balm and “ferns, lots of ferns, I love them,” she said.

Most of the garden is in a sunny spot but there is a shaded area by the garage that she calls her “woodland area.”

Butterflies, including swallowtails, are beginning to come to the garden, but it will be a while longer before Monarchs show up, Chavez said.

 

If you go...

The Gardening With Native Plants Tour is sponsored by Penn State Extension and Mid-Atlantic Ecological Landscapes, MAEs capes, will also include informa tion on bees, butterflies, erosion and water control, planting natives in containers, and the special Ask the Expert feature.

Advance tickets are $8 and available at the Penn State Exten sion office. Tickets are $10 the day of the tour and will be avail able at each of the gardens that day. Children under 12 are free.

Proceeds benefit MAEscapes education projects.

Call 717-840-7408 for more information or advance tickets.

 

Properties on the tour

 

· Veronica & Manuel Chavez: 1032 Edison St., York

· Richard & Jossel Fears: 8829 Park St., Red Lion

· George & Mary Ann Fetrow: 2000 Cly Rd., York Haven

· Timothy Hoover: 652 Observatory Drive, Lewisberry

· Diane and Fred Oleson: 2716 Sparrow Drive, York