Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed

Due to health issues, our nursery is now closed. Because our nursery had very limited space in our backyard, we had to carefully consider several factors when deciding which plants to grow and sell.

First, we wanted to produce species and varieties have been proven to be excellent for pollinators, either from our own experience or through pollinator trials conducted at the Mt Cuba Center in Delaware or other pollinator research programs.

Most of the time we chose regional natives, often the straight species that was developed by nature over time. (See our post titled “Why Should I Plant Natives?”) But if pollinator trials or experience in our own garden had shown that a particular native cultivar is just as good or even better than the straight species, we may have included them, too. We rarely included double blooming hybrid varieties, because pollen, nectar and scent can be lost during the hybridization process.

Most of our plants were perennials. However, we didn’t include shrubs or trees, because they took up too much time/room in our limited space. Occasionally, our choices may have included a few annuals – especially if the variety generously reseeds itself, so that you do not have to buy new replacements every year.

A high percentage of pollinator plants bloom mostly during summer.  Because pollinators need abundant sources of food all the way from early spring until late fall, we made a point to add some varieties that will provide pollen and nectar during the critical cooler seasons.

Most of our plants have green leaves since the Mt Cuba center has proven that caterpillars and other leaf eating insects aren’t able to eat as many of the purple colored leaves due to the natural chemical defenses in them. But you can plant a few of the purple leafed varieties in your garden (and some non-natives, too), as long as you have at least 70% of your plants that are green leafed natives, so that enough caterpillars can grow to produce butterflies and to feed your local song birds.

Because clay soils are so common in our local region, a species or cultivar that performs well in clay or clay loam had a higher priority in our nursery than plants that require very well-drained sandy soils to thrive. We also focused on plants that, in general, are easier to grow and maintain.

Our plants were never harvested from the wild. In addition, the plants must not be on the invasive list of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (see

We didn’t use chemical insecticides on any of our plants. This includes neonicotinoides, which can harm bees or other pollinators.  We also didn’t buy from wholesale nurseries that use systemic insecticides on their plants.

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