Greetings of the New Year!

Enjoy These Musings and Resources from Your Friends at Prickly Ed's Cactus Patch Native Plant Emporium

January 5, 2023

Be sure to join us on Facebook for daily garden inspirations

Resolve to Help Nature in 2023!

Mother Nature is in trouble and needs our help. The hopeful news is that there is lots that each and every one of us can do to help right outside our own doors. Take a look at the Homegrown National Park Brochure to start thinking, musing and strategizing the ways you can begin building back habitat and becoming part of the grassroots movement that's changing the way America gardens. We hope you will also take a couple of minutes to join us for a look back at a few of our favorite moments and wild visitors from 2022 in the Happy New Year video now posted on the home page of our website.

Visit our Website


An excerpt from "Wild Wisdom" by Maia Toll

Sun knocks on Earth's door

"Wake up," Sun whispers. "Warm your toes by the fire and have a cup of tea. It's not long until our dance begins again!" Earth stretches and yawns. It's early and maybe not quite time to waken. But Sun's warmth is creeping in through the open door, and Earth, almost inadvertently, reaches toward it. But still, it's chilly, and the blanket of last year's leaves are so snug and warm. Earth feels around: The seeds are still abed and the bears not yet stirring; there's rime on the grass and the trees are pointedly ignoring Sun's return. "Perhaps soon," says Earth, "but would you be so kind as to stoke the fire and bring me a cup of tea? It's still quite early." Sun chuckles. This is a familiar routine, it's the beginning of the next dance.

Garden Season Starts January 1st

(and ends December 31st)

It may be cold outside but lengthening days are helping your garden grow and get ready for the spring ahead. These cold months are also the perfect time for you to plan and prepare. Read some great books, attend some of the many programs being offered during the winter months, wander outside and examine the bones of your garden and consider the ways you can invite more life to your space.

Special Orders

2023 garden plans have you needing large quantities of any one plant variety? We offer discount pricing on preorders of deep root native plant plugs (minimum quantity 25 or 50 depending on type). Planning a big spring red0 of foundation plantings and need several native shrubs? Letting us know that as early as possible will help ensure best availability of just what you are looking for. Did you purchase a favorite plant in 2022 and want to sure you can get it in 2023? We want to hear from you. Contact us to discuss your plant needs and options.

Send Us a Message to Discuss Your Plant Needs

Garden Planning Resources

We've culled through piles of information and gathered lots of tools and resources into one place on our website to help you learn more about native plants and decide which ones will add the most benefit to your space. Dig in to all of the tools and materials as you think through the steps you want to take to turn your yard into a buzzing habitat. Using the tools on our website you can start to build your plant lists and identify the best native plants for your garden goals.

Visit Planning Your Garden
Explore our very favorite books on the Great Gardening Gifts page of our website

Winter reading List

New England winters were made for reading. There are so many great books to inspire, educate and guide you on our journey to creating a more ecologically focused landscape. We have gathered up some of very favorites - they will be available this spring in the new "Favorite Things" section of the Roadside Stand. In the meantime, local folks can arrange purchase and pickup here at Headquarters most any time - just send us a message.

Send us a message to purchase any of the available books

Upcoming Local Opportunities to Learn More About Planting for Pollinators and Incorporating Native Plants in Your Landscape

In the months ahead, several local organizations are hosting programs that we will be attending and we think you may be interested in too. We have highlighted some below, hope to see some of you there. You know what, even if you aren't all that interested, or you hate presentations, consider attending anyway. Why? Well first of all you might learn some cool new things! But also because it is important to show our support to the people and organizations going out on a native tree limb to bring this content to the world.

Be sure to stay connected to us on Facebook where we will share new happenings as we learn about them.

Stay Connected on Facebook

Using Native Trees and Shrubs in the Landscape

Tuesday, January 17th 1:00-2:00pm at the Barrington Public Library

Join the Barrington Garden Club for a special lecture by Joe Verstandig, the Living Collections Manager from Newport Tree Conservancy on how to use native trees and shrubs in your home landscaping.

Registration is required only for non-members. Space is limited. Free and open to all.

Using Native Trees and Shrubs in the Landscape - Click Here to Register

Planting for Native Pollinators

Thursday, February 16th 10:30am at the Barrington Public Library

Join the Audubon Society of Rhode Island on Thursday, February 16 at 10:30 am for a talk about helping pollinators through wise gardening practices. The program will discuss the life cycle of local pollinators and the importance of using native plants to create biodiversity and habitat in your backyard and neighborhood.

Free and open to all. Registration is required with in-person and Zoom (online) options available!

Planting for Native Pollinators - Click Here to Register

Grow Native Massachusetts Presents the Nature of Oaks with Doug Tallamy

February 1st 7:00-8:30pm on Zoom

Scary headlines about the decline of the natural world that serves as our life support have spurred people across the country to take action by planting natives to help reverse this trend. No plant will achieve this faster than one of our 91 species of oaks.  Oaks support more species of animals, sequester more carbon, protect our watersheds, and nourish soil communities better than any other plant genus in North America. Doug will illustrate these capabilities by sharing his observations of the many fascinating things that are happening on the oaks in his yard each month of the year. His hope is to impart knowledge about oaks that will generate interest in them, and, with any luck, compassion for these magnificent trees. Doug Tallamy is a renowned advocate, researcher, best-selling author and a professor in the department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware.

The Nature of Oaks - Click Here to Learn More and Register

Silent Earth: Saving Our Insects

Saturday, January 21st 2:00 - 3:30pm

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Pollinator Network

Insects are vital, fascinating, weird and wonderful. They are food, pollinators, recyclers, pest controllers, and much more, so we should be deeply concerned that they are in rapid decline. Dave Goulson will explain the many causes of insect decline, and then turn to the solutions of this crisis. We can all help in many ways, first by turning our gardens and urban greenspaces into oases for life, and second by fundamentally changing the way we grow food, and the food we buy.

Silent Earth - Click Here to Learn More and Register

Un-Lawning - What's All This Buzz?

We blinked and the term "un-lawning" has become all the rage. From local coffee shop banter, to town committee discussions, to social media posts, there is a growing urgency to the realization that our environmentally fragile region is blanketed in too much chemically treated monoculture and it is hurting all of us. The time to really start this notion of un-lawning was decades ago, but the next best time is right now so we'll call it cause for celebration. Landscaper to the stars, Edwina von Gal, founder of the Perfect Earth Project, urges us to think of lawns as area rugs, not wall to wall carpets. And to ditch those chemical treatments altogether. If that approach is good enough for the likes of Calvin Klein, Isaac Mizrahi and estates across Long Island surely it must be workable for our own fine spaces across Barrington and beyond.

We've been so conditioned to think of the traditional American lawn as the iconic suburban standard that it is hard sometimes to even conceive of another way. But those 40 million plus acres of lawn hold so much potential to help - instead of hurting the environment - and us. Just click on the boxes below to explore lots more on this really important subject. And resolve to start un-lawning your little corner of paradise!

Time to Rethink the Traditional Lawn - from "Life in the Garden" our Blog and a monthly Barrington Times Garden Feature
Love, Hate and 9 Lawn Questions from Dear Avant Gardner
Bay Friendly Backyards Booklet from Save the Bay RI
The Perfect Earth Project: Promoting toxin-free lawns and landscapes for the health of people, their pets, and the planet
A Native Plant Guru's Vision for the American Yard from the Washington Post
Yard to Prairie (Meadow) a Video Introduction by Benjamin Vogt of Monarch Gardens, LLC 
Native Groundcovers - a Live Virtual Event by the Native Plant Trust

Stems, Snags and Brush Piles, Oh My!

Let's face it, when we think about creating spaces that nurture birds, pollinators and other beneficial creatures in our yards our first thoughts always go to what can we plant - especially when that includes beautiful flowers! But bringing back life to our yards is actually much more complex than that - but also remarkably simple. Step one, in the words of our former RI Governor "Knock it Off" with all the obsessive tidying up! And basically all of the rest of the steps are the same. If you listened to our autumn advice there is loads of life warm and toasty under blankets of leaves and all sorts of intriguing creatures - some that you may have never even heard of - tucked away in those spent stems. Be sure to spend some time exploring the winter garden to see what you can find.

It's been a windy few weeks and the result is lots of fallen brush about. Before you whisk that brush away to the curb consider building a brush pile! The simple act of creating a brush pile (or 2 or 3) offers songbirds (and in some spots even reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals) cover from extreme weather, toasty shelter, a place to sleep and a covered travel corridor to get from one spot to another. Your brush pile will also attract yummy insects that hungry birds will scurry to eat. This is one of the highest impact, simplest, lowest cost things you can do to help our feathered friends. It's also a really fun outdoor activity to do with the kids. Click here to learn more about building a brush pile.

Trees don't live forever, but, they can have a second life. Save a Snag and Leave a Log for Wildlife! You can create refuge for hundreds of woodland creatures by leaving dead wood in your yard when safe to do so. According to the National Wildlife Federation, Wildlife species use nearly every part of a dead tree in every stage of its decay for things such as:

  • A Place to Live—Many animals, including birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons make nests in hollow cavities and crevices in standing deadwood.
  • A Food Source—By attracting insects, mosses, lichens and fungi, deadwood becomes a gourmet restaurant for wildlife looking for a snack.
  • A "Crow's Nest"—Higher branches of snags serve as excellent look-outs from which wildlife such as raptors spot potential prey.
  • A Hiding Place—The nooks and crannies of deadwood are put to good use by squirrels and other wildlife looking to store food.
  • A Soil Refresher—Mosses, lichens and fungi all grow on snags and aid in the return of vital nutrients to the soil through the nitrogen cycle. Decaying logs also act as "nurse logs" for new seedlings.

We know that neighbor/peer pressure to create order out of nature can be great. We are fortunate that our neighbors don't mind our messy and equally fortunate that we wouldn't care if they did. Still, we do understand. But, together we can push that pressure in the opposite direction knowing that we are on the right side of history working to build back biodiversity while there is still time.

This Fly Has a Gall

The cool looking orb above is in our yard on a stem of spent Tall Goldenrod. It's the home of a Goldenrod Gall Fly. If we had "tidied up" instead of leaving the stems standing then we would be depriving Downy Woodpeckers and Chickadees of a favorite mid-winter nutritious snack. Read more about it in this article from the Menunkatuck Audubon Society.

Logs and limbs in our yard shown in the photos above. You never really realize just how many shades of brown and gray there are until you look closely at the beauty of the winter habitat.

Everything You Need to Know About Native Gardening from "Delaware Today"

We find that some of our greatest garden inspirations come from the mid-Atlantic Region and this information packed article is no exception. Here's an excerpt - click the box at the end to continue reading the whole piece.

"Although using native plants isn’t a new concept in the gardening community, widespread adoption of these practices is becoming imperative. According to the Audubon Society, the United States is now in the midst of a bird emergency. Since 1970, the U.S. has lost nearly 3 billion birds—more than one quarter of the entire population—due primarily to human activities, including urban development and pesticide use. The abrupt decline in bird populations may seem like the least of our worries, but it’s a precursor to major ecological collapse. Think of it as a domino effect: When we lose caterpillars, we lose birds. When we lose birds, we lose the predators that rely on them. In the greater picture, a simple choice like planting an oak tree supports generations of native plants and animals...At its roots, the concept of native gardening is simple: Plants are most beneficial to the ecosystem in which they originated. A prime example of this lies in the oak tree, which originated on this continent millions of years ago. Because it evolved within North America’s distinct ecosystem, an oak tree can support about 500 species of butterflies and caterpillars. Most non-native plants can support a handful at best. Many foreign plants may be hardy and less susceptible to pest damage, but they did not evolve to exist with our animals. Choosing these ornamental greens over native species leaves our flora and fauna to deal with shrinking resources..."

Click Here to Continue Reading Everything You Need to Know About Native Gardening

Happening This Week

News You Definitely Won't Get Just Anywhere!

Today (January 5th) is #NationalBirdDay 2023 all across social media. But, what birds really need from us is not a hashtag - what they need is:

  • More Native Plant Rich Habitat
  • More Insects
  • Less Pesticides
  • More People Who Care About the 3 BILLION birds we have lost in the last 1/2 century!

The loss of birds is indeed the canary in the coal mine of biodiversity collapse. Start turning the tide right in your own backyard. Learn more by visiting and get 'Birdscaping' today.

On January 6th the first Full Moon of 2023, known as the "Wolf Moon" will rise. Join with others in a collective Moon Howl Event. Howl for peace, for life or for the sheer release of it. Howl in honor of loved ones gone before and for the future of your children. Or just howl because it is fun - will get the neighbors talking and might attract a few of those coyotes that have everyone so worked up in the burbs these days! #collectivehowl

Wildlife Lives Here Too!

Local friends - we're making a plea to you. Please, please slow down on the roads. Especially our road. Tell your kiddos to slow down. Tell your neighbors to slow down. Tell the many landscape trucks, contractors, delivery drivers to slow down. The streets in our area intersect through the last remaining areas of habitat that exist in our region for wildlife. And to get from one part of their ever shrinking habitat to another wildlife need to cross the streets - altogether too often now resulting in them being killed or severely injured. We can do better! Thanks for coming to our Ted Talk...;-)

Prairie Up!

Here in New England when we hear the term "Prairie" it brings to mind images of Bison grazing on vast expanses of land somewhere that is not here. But the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as a wide area of flat land without many trees anywhere in Canada or the Northern US - in other words what we call a Meadow. Benjamin Vogt of "New Garden Ethic" acclaim has a long awaited new book "Prairie Up" which offers the practical how-to advise ecologically minded gardeners are clambering for. While it is still on pre-release status from most sources we actually have several copies here on hand hot of the presses! Just send us a message to arrange purchase and pick up. Why wait until just anyone can buy it?! You have a special connection - use it :-)! And, on January 24th there will be an official book release presentation. We'll be there - will you? Just click on the image to get all the event information and register to attend.

Click Here to Read About the Return of the Hummingbirds

What's Just a Short 16 Weeks Away?

You guessed it - the return of the amazing, beloved hummingbirds to our region - AND - opening day of the Roadside Stand Native Plant Emporium! But, who's counting...

We will be back this year - better than ever with lots more hours, inventory and variety. More information coming your way as opening day approaches. Be sure to stay tuned in to our Facebook Page for our always popular "Plant of the Day" posts to learn more about all of the cool things you will find at the Stand this season.

Click Here to Read About the Roadside Stand

Help Us Bring More Life to Our Region

We are on a mission to bring life back to area yards and gardens but we can't do it without all of you. You can share this newsletter with others via email or social media by using the links below. Invite friends to follow our Facebook Page. Use our newly updated website to share out helpful resources and information to friends and neighbors who are ready to grow habitat outside their own doors. With your support positive change is within reach. Resolve right now to recruit at least five neighbors and friends to the Backyard Habitat Building Party.

Read our Life in the Garden Blog
Visit and Share all of the Updated Resources on our Website
LinkedIn Share This Email

Prickly Ed's Cactus Patch

 6 Barneyville Road,

Barrington, RI 02806-2715

(401) 248-4785

Please note, use the address above for mailing or for GPS but the Roadside Stand/Native Plant Emporium is located in Swansea, MA directly next door to the address listed above. Just look for the sign and for the big red barn.

Send Us an Email

Prickly Ed's Cactus Patch, Roadside Stand, Apothecary and Native Plant Emporium is a super small, hyperlocal, roadside stand located directly on the border of Barrington, RI and Swansea, MA focused on making the area a little bit wilder one yard at a time! Offering great native plants, prickly pear cactus, magic dirt, unusual pollinator friendly annuals, organic herb and vegetable plants, lots of solicited and unsolicited advice & random curiosities designed to get your yard really buzzing. You can read all about us on our website, including the story of where the name Prickly Ed's Cactus Patch came from.

Read More About Us Here