MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Ready to turn over a new leaf?

Green Thumbers are invited to the Union County Demonstration Garden on June 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,, for a 'Native Plant Swap and Shop' event at the Union County Demonstration Garden. There, gardeners can -- free of charge -- trade an invasive plant from their yard for a colorful native plant.

Attendees can come at any time during the event and stay for as long as they like.

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Pink, lavender, white, red, blue and purple flowering native plants are available for swap including swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, dense blazing star, and hummingbird-friendly foxglove beardtongue and cardinal flower.

Additional native plants are also available for sale at the event, and attendees can tour the Demonstration Garden, which is located on the grounds of Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center.

Gardening with native plants is an effective way to save time, cut yard care costs, and contribute to the health of the local ecosystem. Native species thrive naturally their home environment. They enable gardeners to avoid using potentially harmful herbicides and pesticides. Native plants can help reduce ponding and runoff, and they also support local populations of butterflies, birds, and other beneficial pollinators.

Non-native plants can be difficult to control and can easily overrun other varieties. Invasive non-natives common to the Union County area include multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, English ivy and garlic mustard.

Chinese silvergrass, purple loosestrife, winged burning bush, and butterfly bush are other common non-natives. Union County’s free, downloadable Plant This, Not That guide includes more information on identifying invasive species and gardening with native plants. Additional information is also available through the Rutgers University native plant program.

The Native Plant Swap and Shop event is hosted by the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Master Gardeners of Union County. The all-volunteer Master Gardeners tend the Demonstration Garden and provide many other acts of community service in Union County. 

Admission to the event is free but pre-registration is requested by emailing watershed7@ucnj.org.

For additional information, contact the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation at 908-789-3683.

The Demonstration Garden is located on the grounds of Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center, at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Ample free parking is available on site.