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Nasami Farms: A New England Mecca for Native Plant Lovers

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Nasami Farms: A New England Mecca for Native Plant Lovers

Justine Hand May 15, 2018

My first sojourn to Garden in the Woods was enough to convert me. (See Walk on the Wild Side: A New England Woodland Garden.) Ever since that visit to the New England Wild Flower Society‘s native showcase, I have become a huge devotee of native plants. Which is why I recently found myself on a pilgrimage, driving two hours west of my Boston-area home, to visit the center of the society’s propagation, preservation, and research efforts at Nasami Farm in western Massachusetts. Was I also enticed by the fact that Nasami offers New England’s largest retail selection of native plants? You bet!

Join me for a tour.

Photography by Justine Hand for Gardenista.

Located in Whately, Massachusetts, Nasami Farms is situated on 40 acres of bucolic farmland.
Above: Located in Whately, Massachusetts, Nasami Farms is situated on 40 acres of bucolic farmland.
In the retail nursery, Nasami sells hundreds of native species including wildflowers, ferns, grass, trees, and shrubs.
Above: In the retail nursery, Nasami sells hundreds of native species including wildflowers, ferns, grass, trees, and shrubs.
This summer, as part of Pollinate New England, the society will plant data-src=
Above: This summer, as part of Pollinate New England, the society will plant 12 new pollinator gardens throughout the region. Members of the public may attend workshops and lectures at each of the new garden sites, and can take a free, self-paced, online course, Gardening for Pollinators. You can also buy your own pollinator kit, which features 50 plant varieties selected for varied sun and soil conditions, directly from New England Wild Flower Society; $175.
Nasami&#8
Above: Nasami’s LEED Gold Standard Building houses the society’s native seed bank, administrative offices, and retail sales operation.
Vibrant pink flowering dogwood, Benthamidia florida (formerly Cornus florida), is one of the many flowering trees offered at Nasami.
Above: Vibrant pink flowering dogwood, Benthamidia florida (formerly Cornus florida), is one of the many flowering trees offered at Nasami.
As part of its preservation efforts, New England Wildflower Society aims to bank the seeds of more than 380 regional plant species, particularly rare and endangered plants. Wild seeds are sustainably collected by hand from all over the region and brought to Nasami, where staff, including seed technician Kate Wellspring, manually clean and count them. Processed seeds are then placed in long-term storage in a climate-controlled building at Garden in the Woods.
Above: As part of its preservation efforts, New England Wildflower Society aims to bank the seeds of more than 380 regional plant species, particularly rare and endangered plants. Wild seeds are sustainably collected by hand from all over the region and brought to Nasami, where staff, including seed technician Kate Wellspring, manually clean and count them. Processed seeds are then placed in long-term storage in a climate-controlled building at Garden in the Woods.
One of my favorites: foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia makes a happy ground cover in a shade garden.
Above: One of my favorites: foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia makes a happy ground cover in a shade garden.
In eight greenhouses, the staff at Nasami propagate native plants grown from wild seeds that have been sustainably collected from around the New England region by the society&#8
Above: In eight greenhouses, the staff at Nasami propagate native plants grown from wild seeds that have been sustainably collected from around the New England region by the society’s volunteers. These indigenous plants are used in habitat restoration projects, at Garden in the Woods, for the society’s retail sales operations at both the Garden and Nasami, and for their upcoming pollinator gardens. New England Wild Flower Society also works with institutions, such as schools and corporations, that are interested in planting native gardens.
My guide for the day, Mark Richardson, the New England Wild Flower Society botanic garden director, and Cayte McDonough, Nasami&#8
Above: My guide for the day, Mark Richardson, the New England Wild Flower Society botanic garden director, and Cayte McDonough, Nasami’s nursery manager, inspect the young plants, which are grown from seeds collected from all over the region.
The New England Wild Flower Society painstakingly records where and when each batch of the seeds is collected. Notes on soil conditions are also made.
Above: The New England Wild Flower Society painstakingly records where and when each batch of the seeds is collected. Notes on soil conditions are also made.
Cayte oversees the propagation of 0 wild eco-types, including grasses, ferns, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs.
Above: Cayte oversees the propagation of 150 wild eco-types, including grasses, ferns, wildflowers, trees, and shrubs.
A spring-time favorite, cheerful bluets greet the day.
Above: A spring-time favorite, cheerful bluets greet the day.
Nasami&#8
Above: Nasami’s greenhouses also house research trials aimed at determining optimal conditions for growing wild plants. Here the team is experimenting with Carex pensylvanica, a popular native lawn alternative, that is hard to propagate from seed.
More demure than your average garden variety, native bleeding hearts, Dicentra exemia, are among Nasami&#8
Above: More demure than your average garden variety, native bleeding hearts, Dicentra exemia, are among Nasami’s extensive shade plants offerings.
Because the New England climate and soil conditions range from loamy woodlands to sandy shores, growing conditions in each greenhouse are carefully tailored for each plant.
Above: Because the New England climate and soil conditions range from loamy woodlands to sandy shores, growing conditions in each greenhouse are carefully tailored for each plant.
Outside the main building, which overlooks the rolling hills of the Pioneer Valley, carts await shoppers. Beyond the retail area and greenhouse, wild fields are used as native pollinator habitats and for seed collection.
Above: Outside the main building, which overlooks the rolling hills of the Pioneer Valley, carts await shoppers. Beyond the retail area and greenhouse, wild fields are used as native pollinator habitats and for seed collection.
Anna Turkle, a plant sales associate, helps me with my purchases for the day.
Above: Anna Turkle, a plant sales associate, helps me with my purchases for the day.

Considering going native? Get started with our curated guides to Garden Design 101, including Perennials: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Here’s more info:

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