Every year, Shirley Heinze Land Trust recognizes individuals, businesses, and organizations who have native plant gardens through the Bringing Nature Home Program. This program celebrates local efforts to create gardens free from invasive species and rich with native plants.

“Native plant gardens provide crucial connected habitats in an otherwise fragmented world. These gardens not only help to restore native plants, but they also provide critical habitats for native pollinators,” emphasizes Mari Patis, Programs Coordinator. In addition to increasing backyard aesthetics and supporting native wildlife, native gardens are a great way to learn about the region’s unique ecosystems. Patis explains, “Northwest Indiana is one of the most biodiverse areas in the country, so there are plenty of native plant options to choose from for a native garden.” Certain plants are adapted to specific habitat types, so it is recommended to research which plants are best suited for your area to help your garden thrive.

Anyone with a native plant garden that is at least in its second year of growing may apply at www.heinzetrust.org/bnh-application. Applicants will fill out information about their garden’s location, size, a list of plant species, and some photos of the garden. The garden must have a form of water conservation present, such as a pond, bird bath, rain garden, mulch, or rain barrel. Applications are open from Earth Day, April 22, until August 1, 2023.

Recipients will receive a garden sign commemorating their commitment to native plants and wildlife habitat, as well as be featured on Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s social media and fall newsletter. For more information and to view past recipients, visit www.heinzetrust.org/bringingnaturehome.

Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has preserved and restored natural lands and waters in northwestern Indiana, including some of the rarest landscapes in the state. More than 3,000 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Starke, and Marshall Counties have been protected. The organization also strives to build connections between communities and nature by engaging people of all ages in its work.

For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit www.heinzetrust.org, call (219) 242-8558, or our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @heinzetrust.