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Posted on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

My native plant thankful list

By Rick Meader

br-eyed susan.JPG

Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba), a native summer bloomer for which I and hundreds of tiny bees are thankful.

Rick Meader | Contributor

It’s late, I know, but sometimes you’re still thankful for things even after Thanksgiving. So, in the spirit of times gone by (a week or so ago), I would like to offer the following personal list of some of the things for which I, an unabashed admirer of native plants in Michigan (and other places, too, but this list applies to Michigan), am thankful.

I’m thankful for the glaciers, which created vast flat areas, large, steep hills, deep and shallow lakes and wetlands, sometimes within 50 feet of each other. These forms, and a myriad of different soil types, combine to create a gamut of varied habitats that provide homes for a huge variety of plants and wildlife. They also make walks in nature a fascinating experience.

I’m thankful for the sun, the wind, the soil and the rain, which give the plants the wherewithal to grow and spread their range.

I’m thankful for the sound of dry oak leaves rustling beneath my feet on a late fall day, and for large, old oak trees which give shade in the summer, food for animals in the winter, and a reminder that there was a lot of life going on around here prior to the arrival of settlers.

I’m thankful for the paid and volunteer crews who work to lessen the accidental negative impact of alien invasive species on our natural habitats.

I’m thankful for local native plant suppliers like Native Plant Nursery and Wildtype Nursery, who don’t supply just mainstream big-selling species, but who give us all a chance to create great diversity in our own yards, parks and restored natural areas with their extensive lists of plants native to Michigan, and grown from seed gathered in Michigan.

I’m thankful for bluejays, whose nut-hauling and hording ways helped to bring oak trees to Michigan.

I’m thankful for the greens, the whites, the yellows, the lavenders/purples, the blues and even the reds that native plants bring to our landscapes, both wild and developed, and the bees, butterflies and birds they feed.

I’m thankful for Bob Grese, director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, professor of landscape architecture, one of the founders of the local Wild Ones chapter, and my friend, for inviting me to join the Arb workdays, and for bringing me into the wonderful world of native plants and landscapes.

I’m thankful for my clients, who have opened their yards to my designs, and to the wildlife they’ve attracted.


Pitcher's Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) an endangered, threatened native plant that is always fun to find on the dunes of northern Lake Michigan.

Rick Meader | Contributor

I’m thankful for Brenda Dziedzic, whose passion for raising butterflies from eggs has rubbed off on me, and taught me a deeper enjoyment of native plants, and for Douglas Tallamy, whose writings and research bring to life the critical support native plants give to native insects and the native wildlife up the food chain who depend on them.

I’m thankful for the animals that come to our yard to share my enjoyment of our native plants, and add life and activity to our little yard.

And finally, I’m thankful to all of you who have shared with me your knowledge of and questions about native plants, and for those of you who have told me you enjoy these entries. It means more to me than you know.

So, a week and a half late, I say to all of the above, thank you very much!

Rick Meader is a local landscape architect with a special interest in all things natural, including creating designs that include a lot of native plants (and the critters they support). You can contact him at


Rork Kuick

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

I have more. I am thankful for Rick Meader's consistently outstanding articles. We are very fortunate.