How Native Plants & Natural Gardening Can Help us Live Better, Help Often, and Wonder More!

I am a founding co-president of the Western PA Area Chapter of Wild Ones Native Plants, Natural Landscapes. I am also a board member at Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh. In preparation for the SAPgh Wondershop on April 23, I started to think about the ways in which the goals at Wild Ones complement those at Sunday Assembly. What I realized is that we, at Wild Ones, provide hands on help with Sunday Assembly’s goals to Live Better, Help Often, and Wonder More in many ways!

Live Better

Compared to the more typical yard of 1 or 2 species of non-native lawn with a few mostly non-native ornamental plants, a mostly native plant garden is a lovely, ever-changing ecosystem of varied plants. 

  • It is alive with many species of beautiful and fascinating insects such as butterflies and many species of native bees. These insects, which have co-evolved with the native plants attract birds, almost all of which feed their young exclusively on insects such as caterpillars. That’s why I say “Native plants are for the birds!”
  • Instead of, or in combination with native plants, organically grown food is healthy, fun, and money saving. Beneficial insects will often control less desirable ones.
  • Gardening and appreciating natural spaces reduce stress, are joyful, and build community. They can be low maintenance and inexpensive.
Help often

Most gardeners like to help other gardeners in both individual and community gardens. More natural gardens help humans and most other species by:

  • Providing healthy, inexpensive food.
  • Ameliorating climate change by reducing fossil fuel use in very inefficient tools such as lawn mowers and “leaf blowers,” and by sequestering carbon in soils and plants. Shade trees also decrease the need for air conditioning.
  • Avoiding other harmful synthetic chemicals as in fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc. Also wasting less potable water.
Wonder more
  • A more natural garden is a place of wonder about  the many plants and all of the animal species as above. It is more like a movie than a still life.
  • Curiosity about native plant ecosystems can be a driver for scientific hypotheses and research as demonstrated by Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass, which we will be discussing in our Multi-media Meetup on April 10.

Please email us at if you would like to get involved in leadership or other volunteering or with any questions.

Join us for one of our events mentioned above!

Ed Wrenn, M.D., Sunday Assembly Pittsburgh Board Member

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