The Wild Seed Project

Jennifer Claster, ASLA, a Maine-Licensed Landscape Architect, and Maine Section member, serves on the board of the Wild Seed Project, a non-profit dedicated to returning native plants to the Maine landscape.  The Wild Seed Project sells the seeds of Maine native species, teaches people how to propagate the plants, and provides information about how to use the plants in the landscape. It maintains an information-packed website, offers walks and talks around the state, and publishes an annual, advertising-free publication called Wild Seed magazine, which is on-sale at bookstores, nurseries, and other Maine retailers and online.  This year, Jennifer was the magazine’s contributing editor and wrote or contributed to several articles, in addition to participating in editorial meetings and providing artwork and photography.  

 

Because of habitat loss, climate change and competition from invasive species, Maine native plants are severely challenged.   Maine’s native lupine, for example, as Bill Cullina points out in this year’s magazine, hasn’t been spotted for so long that it is considered to be functionally extinct.  As we better understand species specialization and the co-evolutionary relationships between plants and animals, it is becoming increasingly clear how important native species are to the survival of our local fauna.  The Wild Seed Project gives people the tools to grow wild-type Maine native plants, many of which are scarce in the nursery trade, and provides diverse examples highlighting how the plants can be used.  

 

For landscape architects, who may not find it easy to source these plants, the Wild Seed Project offers a way to become more familiar with them and to learn about how they can contribute to designed landscapes.  As we become more comfortable with the plants, landscape architects can create demand for them, hopefully influencing the nursery industry to offer more genetically diverse, wild type native species.  This has happened in other parts of the country and could happen here.  In addition, landscape architects can educate their clients about the plants and find more ways to use them in their designs, increasing their landscape presence.  By becoming members of the Wild Seed Project, landscape architects can immediately make a contribution toward sharing information about native plants and supporting native seeds. Members receive a 20% discount on all seed orders, walks and workshops, and a current issue of Wild Seed magazine.

In addition to Bill Cullina’s article on Maine’s original lupine, the current issue of Wild Seed magazine features articles by Larry Weaner on the education of a wild landscape designer, Tom Wessels on biodiversity and climate change in Acadia, and Doug Tallamy on maples, moths and butterflies.  Other stories focus on urban parks; pollinators on roadsides, farms, and gardens; controlling invasive plants; citizen science; animal/plant interactions; hickory nuts; and growing natives from seed. 

This content was contributed by Jennifer Claster, ASLA, President of Claster, a landscape architecture and planning firm located in South Portland, Maine.