The sun may have been hiding, but that didn’t stop local gardeners and green thumbs from turning out to Edge of the Woods Nursery’s Fall Festival on Saturday.
The festival, now in its fifth year, aims to educate locals about the importance of incorporating native plants into their landscapes.
Native plants refer to the plant life that has developed or existed in a particular area over time.
At Edge of the Woods, all plants are native to the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the country, meaning they have adapted to the region’s soils and climate and, when planted properly, require little to no fertilizer or watering.
“It requires a little bit of education for people to understand what the plants are and what they’re for. The festival is a really great way to get people in and an opportunity for us to offer them some of that information,” explained Louise Schaefer, co-founder and certified horticulturalist.
Master Gardener and Edge of the Woods employee Lynn Altrichter led an 11 a.m. presentation “Right Plant, Right Place,” which gave a brief history of the nursery for newcomers and provided an overview of the benefits of growing native plants, including lower costs on water and fertilizer, reduced risk of disease and providing food for local wildlife, like songbirds and butterflies.
Most importantly, Altrichter stressed the importance of restoring and balancing the ecology of the Lehigh Valley.
“It’s really so important for us to be aware of the little things we’re connected to and to try and preserve our environment,” explained Altrichter. “The best thing our customers can do is to know their land and educate themselves about how to incorporate native plants into their landscape at home.”
The presentation gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions regarding some of their pesky plants at home, and Altrichter and the rest of the nursery team were able to provide advice for how to deal with pests and select optimal growth sites for native plants.
“It’s key to have the right plant at the right place. Be still, be patient; choose the right site and then allow those native plants to do what they’re supposed to,” said Altrichter.
In addition to Altrichter’s presentation, the festival offered guests the chance to peruse the native plant selection, and hosted a variety of kid-friendly activities. Schaefer’s daughter manned the Spin Art stand, where younger guests could make their own masterpieces to take home, and play with an oversized bubble wand. The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society also had a stand, and offered samples of plants designed to attract butterflies.
Edge of the Wood, located on Route 100 in Orefield, has been promoting native plant use since 2003, when Schaefer and co-founder Sue Tantsits decided to focus their efforts strictly on native plants. The two met while working at the Wildlands Conservancy in Emmaus, and discovered a mutual passion for a particular niche of gardening.
“We came from the conservancy in Emmaus, where Sue had started the native plant sale, and I came to the conservancy about two years later. That was really my first introduction to native plants, and we were both convinced that native plants were the way to go, and that we needed to help the environment,” said Schaefer.