A new garden center will promote biodiversity through its focus on plants that are native to the Midwest.
Deep Roots Garden Center is presenting its grand opening, which will include live music by Tom Roznowski and the Ruff Boys, from 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Deep Roots is located at 3220 E. 3rd St. at Bloomingfoods East, which had its own garden center that closed about two years ago. The garden center’s soft opening was Thursday. Regular hours will be Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m.
In addition to specializing in native plants, Deep Roots sells organic and locally sourced plants, such as trees, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, perennials and grasses. The center also sells gardening supplies like seeds, soils, fertilizers and various gardening tools. Owner Ramsay Harik said there are many ecological benefits to growing native plants. Because they co-evolved in the area, they are suited to the growing conditions, insect life and bird life in the Midwest.
“A lot of the ornamentals that people plant in their yards can be pretty and can even grow well, but they do little or nothing for the birds and the butterflies you want in your garden,” Harik said.
Native plants are stronger, less water-dependent and lower maintenance than non-natives, according to the Deep Roots website. Harik said he wants the garden center’s focus on native plants to inspire people to change the way they garden in their own yards.
“Our whole idea behind the specialization is that native plants are really one of the major planks in an overall environmental response to the crisis of deforestation and the loss of habitat,” he said.
Harik said he has been gardening for 25 to 30 years. His inspiration for the native plant garden center came from reading Douglas Tallamy’s book “Bringing Nature Home,” which is about sustaining wildlife with native plants and the importance of insects to biodiversity.
Deep Roots employee Andy Marrs, who has helped Harik open the business, said it is important to look at the relationship between insects, birds and native plants.
“Ninety percent of insects are what is called specialized so they can only eat the foliage of a specific group of plants,” Marrs said.
If native plants that animals rely upon disappear from a habitat, it severely endangers wildlife, Marrs said. For example, the widespread destruction of the milkweed plant by humans has contributed to the decline of monarch butterflies.
Native plants can be difficult to find at traditional nurseries or garden centers, he said, but Deep Roots has a large inventory of native plants from local growers.
“There’s a real excitement in the community that shops there for the garden center to come back,” he said.
Harik said he expects the location will be helpful both for Bloomingfoods and Deep Roots.
“We’ll get the Bloomingfoods traffic, and in the process, we’ll make Bloomingfoods a more attractive shopping experience for people, so it’s mutually beneficial,” he said.
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