Natural attraction: Great Parks and Shaker Trace Nursery help the local ecosystem thrive

Great Parks of Hamilton County’s annual native tree and shrub sale and open house at Shaker Trace Nursery offers locals the opportunity to improve or begin their gardens with indigenous trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and seeds.

The annual sale runs from July 1 to September 14. Plants can be ordered on the Great Parks website and will be ready for pick up on September 21.

Available plants include red and sugar maples, pawpaw, river birch, tulip poplar, oaks, winterberry, and smooth hydrangea in one-to-three gallon pots.

The online sale features 26 species grown from locally harvested seeds. Soil testing kits provided by the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District will also be available on the site.

Great Parks offers another way to obtain native plant via the Shaker Trace Seed Nursery's annual open house on July 27 from 10–2 p.m. The nursery, located in Miami Whitewater Forest, grows native prairie and wetland plants. Seeds are harvested and stored for restoration projects around Great Parks and for plant sales. The nursery is closed to the public, but their open house allows visitors to explore the grounds, learn about native plants and their benefits, and purchase some while supplies last.

Tim Osborne keeps the Shaker Trace nursery alive and holds a plethora of native plant knowledge. He says that the plants at the nursery all come from “native, local ecotype seeds.” Thus, they have evolved for this climate.

Benefits include attracting more local pollinators like the monarch butterfly and bumblebees. As Osborne explains, natives create biodiversity and ecosystems for regional wildlife, such as beneficial insects and birds.

Another advantage to native plant cultivation is that they require much less maintenance and are naturally more resilient to our environment.

Not only do they benefit local wildlife, but they also provide the opportunity to view native animals in your own backyard.

For those looking for more of a structured experience at the Shaker Trace Nursery, keep an eye out for information on their annual guided tour on October 5. Registration is required.
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Read more articles by Emily Dillingham.

Emily Dillingham is a Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati graduate with degrees in English and Geology. She writes full-time for a local material science company and lives in Brighton with her husband and pack of dogs. Follow her on Instagram @keeperoftheplants