October 21, 2022
Now a Homegrown National Park, it all began with a pot of coreopsis

By Mary Reid Barrow

It all started with a package of coreopsis seed that Terri Gorman planted in a pot on her deck.

And now her yard is on the Homegrown National Park registry.

Terri, LRN’s Pearl Home coordinator, had just moved to a new home with a small yard that was all deck and no flowers.  The coreopsis seed were part of a LRNow native plant seed giveaway.

She planted them in the fall and the next spring, the pot was full of yellow coreopsis.  The neighborhood bees arrived to dine at the new restaurant in the lone pot surrounded by a wooden deck.

“It got me to thinking of what I could do with my yard,” Terri said.

 So last year she got help from the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program and Wild Works of Whimsy landscaper Trista Imrich. All the decking in the side yard was torn out and native flowers filled in the space, save a small path.

This year Terri’s new garden is full of insects, nectaring on blooms, and birds, feeding on flowers as they go to seed.  This time of year, pretty blue asters have center stage.

Terri has enrolled her garden in the Home Grown National Park registry and she is ordering a sign for her yard.

What Terri did is exactly what the Home Grown National Park program wants us all to do:  Create space and habitat for nature in our own yards to help bridge the gap between parks and refuges that have been set aside for nature and the paved over cities, streets, and highways in between.

Home Grown National Park is a vision of University of Delaware professor of biological sciences and author Doug Tallamy. He spoke on a webinar this week, sponsored by the Blue Ridge PRISM, an invasive plant management partnership in Virginia.

Without insects, there not only would be no vegetables, but no trees, flowers, or other vegetation on Earth.  That also means there would be no birds and other animals who depend on trees and insects to live.

Yet the national parks and nature areas we have now are not big enough to sustain all the insects we need to live, Tallamy said.

Unless we step in.

 “Your property is part of a local ecosystem,” he said, “and it will impact it.”

Your landscaping not only impacts insects that need local plants to survive, but plant life also slows flooding by taking up excess water, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and returning oxygen.

Lawns are low hanging fruit, Tallamy said.  Shrink your lawn (or in Terri’s case, her deck) and plant native flowers, shrubs, and trees instead.

The same day that Tallamy spoke, Terri just happened to be speaking to the North Virginia Beach Civic League about LRNow and its Pearl Home program. In her presentation, she also stressed the importance of native plants to our environment and used her garden as an example.

 “If you don’t do anything else, plant just one pot of natives,” she said. “That would make me so happy.”

As Terri well knows, there’s no telling what one little pot of natives can lead to.

And as Tallamy says, the world is depending on it.

Find out what you can do to help.  The Home Grown National Parks website is here:  A video of Doug Tallamy’s presentation is on the website.

See LRNow’s website for more about native plants:   A video, “Bring back the Pollinators,” is on the website too.

Contact Mary Reid at


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