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Native Plant Garden

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Mason's first native plant garden was installed in fall of 2006 across the street from the Combined Heating and Cooling Plant on the corner of Patriot Circle and Rivanna River Way. The original garden was designed and installed by Professor Andrew Wingfield and his New Century College (NCC) service learning students with assistance from the founders of Earth Sangha, a local non-profit focusing on peace, conservation, and restoration. Earth Sangha also provided most of the plants in the garden. 



Although the garden had to be relocated in 2009 as a result of planned construction (with assistance from the Facilities Grounds Shop), the current home for the garden – between Shenandoah Parking Deck, The Hub, and the Science and Tech buildings – is extremely successful. So successful, in fact, that on good days it looks like a jungle of flowers and fruits. A local hummingbird has been spotted on site on numerous occasions. The site has been recognized as a National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitat for providing food, shelter, and water for local wildlife. The plants are thriving, the runoff is contained and absorbed by the plants, and the area is much more attractive than it once was!

 
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Benefits of native plants

  • Provide habitat for local wildlife, including nesting materials.

  • Provide food for local wildlife (flower nectar, fruit, leaves, roots, berries, and leaf-eating insects).

  • Support healthy ecosystem functions (food-webs, water, and nutrient cycling).

  • Do not require energy-, water-, or fertilizer-intensive management.

  • Provide such services as water filtration, erosion control, and carbon uptake.

Problems with invasive plants

  • Aggressively out-compete native plants for light, water, and soil resources.

  • Compromise the integrity of local ecosystems, rapidly taking over large areas and reducing biodiversity.

  • Do not provide high-value food sources for local insects and wildlife.

  • Cannot provide the same ecosystem services as locally adapted plants.