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Release Date: 2/17/1999
Contact Information: Donna M. Heron (215) 814-5113

PHILADELPHIA - The EPA’s exhibit, "The All-American Garden," at the 1999 Philadelphia Flower Show  March 7 to 14 has been designed by a team of EPA employees to generate ideas and inspire gardeners to use native plants.

Native plants, which are indigenous to the area, will thrive with less care than exotic plants because they have already adapted to the climate and soil conditions.  They will require less water, less pesticides and a lot less work. Using local plants is called beneficial landscaping.

"The beauty of a beneficial landscape is that it saves time and money while treading more gently on the environment," said Jeff Lapp, an EPA wetlands enforcement coordinator and one of the developers of the exhibit.

Visitors to the exhibit will find a restful, woodland garden filled with coastal azalea, mountain andromeda, sheep laurel and many other plants, trees and shrubs native to the region.  Such a landscape creates a wildlife habitat for birds and butterflies by providing food and water, shelter, and reproduction sites needed for their survival.

As usual, all the plants included in the exhibit have been grown by EPA employees and volunteers throughout the year.  And after the flower show is over, everything will be donated to schools, zoos, parks and brownfield sites.

The exhibit has grown over the years since EPA first exhibited at the  Philadelphia Flower Show in 1992 with just a table and employee volunteers handing out literature. Last year the EPA’s exhibit, "The Nature of Diversity," took best of show for non-academic educational exhibits.

Each year the EPA emphasizes beneficial landscaping because imported plants like Norway maple, Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, purple loosestrife and crown vetch grow at such a rate that they can crowd out native vegetation.  Unchecked, this could drastically reduce plant diversity and even lead to extinction of local species.

It is estimated that about 3,000 plant species in the U.S. today are not native to the area they inhabit -- that’s about 16 percent of the total flora.

"What we do in our own backyards has impacts often never imagined," Lapp said. "By adopting beneficial landscaping, we can achieve a safe and healthy environment and save money, too."

Stop by the EPA’s exhibit at the 1999 Philadelphia Flower Show.  And don’t forget to ask for your copy of  "A Gardener’s Guide to a Healthier Environment."  Or contact the EPA’s Public Environmental Education Center at 215-814-5662/5663 for your free copy.