David Soskis, who now has native plants in parts of his lawn, was advised to add some colorful annuals along the front walkway, too. "It's sort of a sensory psychological transition" from the conventional to the new, he says.
Don't feel guilty about having a lawn, Saffier says, "but if you can tolerate some violets, dandelions and clover in the grass, so much the better."
These things won't take over the world. They will, however, provide a diverse, healthy underground environment that eliminates the need for pesticides. That's especially beneficial if you're close to the Wissahickon Creek or another water source.
Fran Lawn, from the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, offers these ideas for native plantings:
Spring bloomers. Wild ginger, geranium and columbine, foamflower, trillium, bloodroot, jack-in-the-pulpit; dogwood, redbud and chokeberry, and serviceberry trees.
Summer. Butterfly weed, summer phlox, joe-pye weed, monarda, mountain mint, hibiscus.
Fall. Woodland and New York aster, woodland goldenrod, warm-season grasses such as big or little bluestem, switchgrass, and purple love grass.
Native-plant sellers in this area include:
Redbud Native Plant Nursery, Glen Mills; 610-358-4300 or www.redbudnativeplantnursery.com.
Yellow Springs Farm, Chester Springs; 610-827-2014 or www.yellowspringsfarm. com.
Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery, Orefield (near Allentown); 610-395-2570 or
A Wild Bird Oasis, Medford; 609-654-6777 or www.awildbirdoasis.com.
Fairweather Gardens, Greenwich, N.J.; 856-451- 6261 or www.fairweathergardens.com.
In addition, area arboretums and public gardens sell native plants in season.
For native-plant information, go to the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society's Web site (www.pawildflower.org) or the Native Plant Society of New Jersey's site (www. npsnj.org).
- Virginia A. Smith