By Stephanie Braswell Edgerton for The Island Connection
The Town of Kiawah is pleased to announce the release of the new online native plant database. The database is part of the Town’s Grow Native initiative launched last fall. This initiative is a community-wide effort to increase the use of native plants in landscaping projects with an overall goal of improving wildlife habitat. More information on the program and a link to the new database can be found by visiting the Town’s Grow Native web page at www.grownativekiawah.com.
The database was designed to help promote the use of native plants on the island and serve as a resource for residents, landscapers, landscape architects, landscape designers, and other entities. This searchable database includes native trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, ferns, and grasses and allows users to filter and find plants based on a variety of criteria, including plant type, size, light requirements, soil requirements, flower color, salt tolerance, deer resistance, and more. There are currently 196 plants in the database, but the list will be expanded over time.
So why grow native?
There are many benefits of using native plants in landscaping that has a direct impact on the ecosystem.
- Native plants provide food and habitat for Kiawah’s wildlife inhabitants. They sustain pollinators vital for fruit production and provide highquality food and shelter for 10 to 15 times as many species of wildlife as non-native plants.
- Native plants provide essential watershed protection, helping natural aquifers recharge, serving to filter water naturally flowing into rivers and estuaries, lessening erosion and flooding.
- Native plants are adapted to Kiawah’s local growing conditions and provide protection from flooding, storm surge, and saltwater intrusion. More specific information on the landscape adaptions section of the Flood Mitigation and Sea Level Rise Adaptation Report can be found at www.kiawahisland.org/ floodandsealevelrise
- Native plants protect Kiawah’s water resources because they allow gardeners to reduce use of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation practices which otherwise contribute to storm water runoff pollution and degradation of downstream water quality.
Town of Kiawah Biologist Jim Jordan stated “maintaining and restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving the island’s current and future ecosystem. We hope this resource will serve multiple generations of property owners and businesses and help Kiawah continue to be a model for other communities to follow.”
This database was created by the Landscape Working Group (LWG), a subcommittee of the Town of Kiawah Environmental committee, with support from the Kiawah Conservancy. The LWG is chaired by Denise Graybill-Donohoe, (MLD, LEED AP) and includes landscaping staff from each of Kiawah’s five main entities.