UALR Native Plant Garden
14 May 2013
"The UALR Native Plant Garden is a collaborative partnership between the UALR Sustainability Committee, Anthropology Club, the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society, and University District neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas. The garden is primarily intended to provide a hands-on experience about the plants of our local region, what they have been used for, and the role they could serve in our future urban landscape. This is performed by utilizing native perennials selected for their low-maintenance, drought resistant, anthropological (edible, medicinal, textural), and sensory properties such as color, smell and feel.
The UALR Native Plant Garden enables faculty, staff, students and community members to learn about natural and organic methods of cultivation while diversifying and beautifying an underutilized campus lot. Our multifaceted approach provides an educational cycle of observing and maintaining native plants, collecting seeds and cuttings, and propagating new plants for use in other gardens and landscapes within the neighborhood.
Native vegetation, which can include grasses, forbs (wildflowers), shrubs, and trees, is an excellent way to enhance the ecological services that a garden can provide. These plants have adapted to our area to survive a wide range of conditions ranging from hot and dry to moist and boggy. Densely rooted native plants capture, filter, store, and slowly release storm water. They also trap and use nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates that otherwise would become run off and pollute nearby streams.
Native plants also attract important pollinators to our area such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and provide habitat for local species. To promote and perpetuate this biodiversity, organic methods are utilized throughout the life of the garden. Appropriate mulching techniques minimize weed pressure in the garden thus eliminating the need for chemical applications or physical tillage and mowing. Due to the biophysical nature of Arkansas native plants, watering is kept to a minimum for the majority of the year. Ultimately a native garden enhances biodiversity, reduces localized storm water pollution, and requires low maintenance throughout the year."
- from the UALR Garden Proposal, written by Dr. Krista Lewis, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.