Growing native plants
Native plants provide a beautiful, low maintenance landscape while contributing in many beneficial ways to the environment In Waterton. Using native plants to restore disturbed sites is an essential component in the management of a healthy park ecosystem . Benefits include enhancing wildlife habitat and reducing the potential spread of invasive, non-native plants.
Waterton is also developing native plant demonstration gardens so that residents and visitors will be able to see for themselves the natural beauty of native plants in landscaping.
The cooperative effort of the two parks is evident on several fronts including: seed collection, propagation and planting, as well as in the planning and design of restoration projects and native plant gardens.
Waterton and Glacier staff and volunteers collected thousands of seeds from a variety of native plant species. Only species considered appropriate for upcoming projects were selected. For example, alpine plants were not collected sincemost planting would occur in the foothills parkland ecoregion of the park.
The seeds were sown in the Native Plant Nursery at West Glacier and the transplants returned to Waterton in 2003 for planting.
Transplants were used at the Waterton Information Centre to replace non-native plants in the Centre's small existing gardens, and to transform a portion of lawn into a native plant garden.
In 2004, an area created by the removal of the back of the Park Administration Building was transformed into the Peace Park Native Plant Garden.
Once again, staff from both Waterton and Glacier national parks worked together on the garden planning and planting. This garden showcases the use of native plants, in particular, to encourage people living in the community to consider using them in their own gardens.
Once established, the gardens will require little if any supplemental water and pesticides. Since native plants are naturally adapted to the climate, they are generally more resistant than most non-native plants to diseases and pests.
The gardens at the Information Centre and Park Administration Building illustrate the diverse and colourful landscape that can be achieved using native plants.