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Land, water, plants, and animals: the "heritage" part of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival isn't only focused on human-created culture in 2023. Jazz Fest coordinator Laura Renee Westbrook took the long view and invited area native plant advocates to provide native plants and remind fest-goers that without its natural environment, the unique culture of Louisiana wouldn't have the flair and flavor loved by so many. "The Louisiana's Natural Heritage tent and Peace Garden at Jazz Fest feature artists, conservationists, mentors, and stewards of all ages who work to preserve our lands and waters and help their cultural and natural communities survive and thrive," Westbrook said. 
"The exhibit at Jazz Fest will include dozens of native Louisiana trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants designed to highlight the beauty of our native plants and emphasize the critical wildlife benefits and ecosystem services they provide," said Tammany Baumgarten, president of the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans and of the Louisiana Native Plant Society. "Native plants protect our coastline, clean our air, feed the pollinators whose work feeds us, and provide homes and food for birds, butterflies, and animals who give us joy."
"The exhibit will also provide a veritable verdant oasis on the festival grounds," said horticulturist Lilith Dorsey, who is working with Westbrook and Baumgarten to create the exhibit. "It'll be the ideal spot for people to immerse themselves in the natural world for a while and remember that at its heart, Louisiana's rich cultural heritage of music, food, literature, and art grows straight from the earth and its sublime bounty."

The wild garden we call Louisiana is a beautiful and busy place in April: native iris, sage, and primrose in bloom; birds building nests in bald cypress, pine, magnolia, and oak trees; bees and butterflies visiting flowering shrubs and reminding us of the pollinators' role in the berries we'll enjoy this summer and fall. To celebrate this bounty and to promote the plants that make Louisiana unique, Gov. John Bel Edwards has proclaimed April 2023 as Native Plant Month in the state.
In December, garden clubs from throughout the state sent a letter to Governor Edwards in requesting the proclamation. The letter cited the 2,500 native plants of Louisiana, their importance in preserving the state's fragile ecosystems, and the need for native plants to be enjoyed, protected, and promoted. The Louisiana proclamation request is part of an effort by the Garden Club of America to promote native plants by establishing a Native Plant Month in all 50 states
"Protecting native plants in the wild and incorporating them into our gardens is a win for everybody," said Blanche Dee McCloskey president of The New Orleans Town Gardeners "They've evolved with our state's birds, bees, and butterflies for thousands of years so they're a crucial part of the ecosystem, and because they've adapted to our Louisiana climate and soils, native plants are usually easier to grow in our home gardens. Our local nurseries and garden centers are leading the way by growing native plants and trees and making it easier for Louisiana gardeners to find natives for their home gardens."
"Native plant advocates across Louisiana applaud the work of the state's garden clubs and of Gov. John Bel Edwards in proclaiming April as Native Plant Month," said Tammany Baumgarten, president of both the Native Plant Initiative of Greater New Orleans and the Louisiana Native Plant Society "Whether native plants are growing in our gardens, along the roadside, or in parks and preserves, they make our lives more beautiful, our crops more productive, and our state more resilient."
Read the Proclamation here: PROCLAMATION-Native Plant Month 2023 (1)

UNO has recently completed the terms of a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant which enabled  the purchase and planting of certain areas of campus that are now part of their Urban Bird Trail.  NPI helped coordinate, plan and implement the plantings along with volunteers from Upward Bound Youth Group, Orleans Audubon, Master Naturalists, UNO students and other proactive citizens just wanting to contribute to the birding habitat on campus.  In addition to the Woodlot and Quandrant that were part of this volunteer effort, UNO has installed native gardens at two prominent locations on campus, the Administration Building and Fine Arts Building.  Below is a list of the numerous native species that can be seen at these locations on campus.

UNO Native Plantings

Saturday, Jan. 28th,  9am – 12 pm, 1235 Deslonde St., Lower 9th Ward, NOLA Hosted by Lower 9th Ward Homeownership Association and Neighborhood Association

Sunday, Feb. 5th, 10am-1pm, 615 Opelousas Ave., Algiers Point, NOLA. Hosted by Algiers-Berhman Community Garden

Saturday, Feb. 11th, 10am-12pm, 1855 Duels Street, 7th Ward, NOLA.  Hosted by Healthy Community Services

These great community partners are helping us with the next three Native Plant Giveaways!  We will be distributing two of our favorite species of native flowering plants, Cardinal flower and Lemon Bee Balm.

Cardinal flower will grow in part shade and likes plenty of moisture.  It loves rain gardens or just plain wet areas of the landscape and hummingbirds LOVE it.  Cardinal flower is a short-lived perennial, meaning that it will come back year after year for a few years, but not forever.  This plant relies on the re-seeding of it's many very fine seeds for its longevity.  If happy, it will produce offspring in addition to the original plant for a long time in your garden.

Lemon Bee Balm, Monarda Citriodora, is a favorite with all sorts of pollinators and people too.  It blooms in the Spring for a long period of time and will set lots of seed that produce offspring the following year.  It likes a normal garden in a sunny area.

Native seeds and "Ancestral Soil" will be a unique throw in the Chewbaccus Parade this Mardi Gras

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is indeed saving the galaxy with the native Wildflower seeds of Clasping Coneflower (Dracopis amplexicaulis).  The Vampiric Council of New Orleans sub-krewe will be handing out these one of a kind treasures during the parade on January 28th.  They containing NPI-donated seeds of Clasping Coneflower, one of the easiest and earliest  native wildflowers that we can grow here.  If you were lucky enough to receive these gems from your local parading vampire, simply scatter your seeds onto the soil, or into your garden in a sunny spot as soon as possible and enjoy the beautiful flowers and many pollinators that will visit them!


June 11th-12th

The French Market Creole Tomato Festival honors Louisiana's produce, farmers, and our unique cuisine of which the Creole tomato is a star.  Tabling at this fest was a great fit as we honored our unique native plants by giving away seeds and educating folks about their importance.  It was a blast as you can see from our smiling volunteers!  Thanks to the volunteers who helped table the event.  Contact NPI if you are interested in tabling or volunteering for other projects!

"Lawn is an ecological deadzone" says Doug Tallamy and yet it is the default option for so much of our landscaping.  This year's NPI exhibit at the NOLA Spring Garden Show, April 2nd and 3rd, will focus on ways property owners can reduce or eliminate their lawn area and replace them with native plantings that benefit the ecology.  For a more in-depth look at this topic and some of the alternatives to lawn, read THIS ARTICLE.  We hope you will also see us at the show!

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a tree planting initiative created to celebrate British Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year in 2022.  The campaign invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee” to create a legacy in honor of the Queen’s 70 years’ leadership of the Nation - trees which will benefit future generations.

The United Kingdom celebrates the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year with a tree planting campaign

The program publishes a Queen's Green Canopy Map where you can record the location of your Jubilee tree.  But the Queen’s Green Canopy is on another map too…..the New Orleans House Float Map!

There are SO many reason to plant native trees

Native Plant Initiative member, Tanya Mennear, registered her home on General Pershing in uptown New Orleans with the Krewe of House Floats early on with the grand notion of a Green CanopyNOLA style.  The results are a quirky blend of British patriotism, environmental education and New Orleans funky.  Where else can Big TREE-da be seen hanging out with Her Royal Majesty, William, Kate, Charles and Camilla - all looking on cheerfully from the upper balcony, having clearly just come back from the parades.

Big TREE-da says.....

This hand-crafted exhibition expounds upon the many reasons to plant trees in New Orleans: suitability to climate they weather our weather better,” stormwater management “they TREE-tain water,” heat island remediation “Who Dat TREE gonna beat that heat?,improve air and ground water quality that’s fil-TREE-tion,” wildlife benefits wildlife is PINE-ing for native plants,” mental health “sit and be seden-TREE”, property values “plant like your Flood Insurance depends on it!”… and don’t just plant trees, plant native trees! Other placards include the impressive numbers of insects (in the hundreds) supported by native trees like red Oaks, Swamp Red Maples and Mexican Plums versus non-natives like Crape Myrtles, Rain trees and Bradford Pears (in the single digits) and QR code chains with links to local organizations and information to help with your tree plantings.

some TREE hugging going on here!

Acorn-y jokes aside, native trees have so many benefits to our lives and the environment we live in, Harry and Megan agree that “it’s harm TREE-duction” to get busy and plant our streets and city with the many native trees that thrive here.

QR codes and link chains are used in the exhibit to provide references to info and orgs
NPI Board Members join the royals in promoting native trees to passersby during Mardi Gras