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Davidson’s Homegrown National Park

by | Dec 14, 2021

The Homegrown National Park initiative calls gardeners to support biodiversity by using native plants in their landscapes. Doug Tallamy, the leader of this national movement, is a biology professor at the University of Delaware, and the author of several books, among them Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope.

I spoke with Marion Sekerak, a Davidson resident, who has been working for several years toward receiving native plant habitat certifications. Part of that effort involved a complete inventory of the 125 different native trees, plants, shrubs, vines, and ferns in her backyard. The certification required that she have mostly native plants and that no invasive species be present.

A monarch butterfly on Marion’s orange milkweed, which is sometimes called “butterfly weed” (Asclepias tuberosa).

She holds certifications from the North Carolina Native Plant Society, the National Wildlife Federation, the North Carolina Wildlife Federations’ Butterfly Highway, and the North American Butterfly Association (for her Monarch Butterfly Garden). To this list of honors, she now adds the prestigious designation “Homegrown National Park.”

The stated mission of the Homegrown National Park program is “to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function because every human being on this planet needs diverse highly productive ecosystems to survive.” Doug Tallamy has written, “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water.”

In keeping with those goals, Marion nurtures plants that support wildlife and birds. To find native plants, she wanders through wooded areas, often where new development will soon be taking place. Before removing any plant, she contacts the property owner for permission. She recommends that those interested in developing a native plant habitat visit UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens, where she volunteers, for their spring or fall native plant sale. She says that Dearness Gardens in Huntersville also has a nice selection of native plants.

If you are interested in joining this “largest cooperative conservation project ever conceived or attempted,” visit their web site ( and start digging!

Jennie Clifton

Jennie Clifton, a Concord native, taught high school Latin in Georgia, where she was a Tar Heel in exile until she and her husband Cecil, a Davidson graduate, retired here in 2011. They are now enjoying life at The Pines.

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