Suppose you live on the peninsula in Portland or in another town with no space for a native plants garden. In that case, Heather McCargo of the Maine-based Wild Seed Project, a nonprofit that encourages landscaping with native plants, suggests you make a year-round native-plant container garden.

First you need a pot. It can be anything: Plastic, concrete, pottery or a cedar box. It can be as small as 12 inches, or as large as you can move, probably 24 inches. Larger pots allow for larger plants and require less frequent watering.

Use a good organic potting soil or add compost to a potting soil.

Woody shrubs and small trees provide year-round interest and overwintering habitat for some small animals and birds, McCargo says. If your spot is shaded, try witch hazel and high-bush blueberries. If you have a sunnier spot, she suggests amelanchier, native viburnums, clethra and mountain laurel. When the shrubs get too large, just remove them and give them to a friend with a garden.

Likewise, select native perennials for your container based on the amount of sun you have. Tall perennials may look leggy, but Joe Pye weed and native sunflowers often work.

McCargo provides a lot more information in her Jan. 28, 2016 blog at As she writes in part, “I imagine corridors of natives in planters and pots, with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds flitting up and down the streets, foraging at ground level and rising up multiple stories, mimicking the vertical habitat of a cliff.”

— Tom  Atwell

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