Groundhog Day Greetings!

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

February 1, 2023

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Happy Reading!

Like all of our newsletters, this one is long and chock full of links and resources to help you on your garden journey. It is best viewed when opened in a browser to ensure the whole message downloads. You don't have to read it all in one sitting - come back often and dig in. And, if you are new to our mailing list or are searching for a resource we shared previously, you can look back at past editions on our website by following the link below.

Click Here to Read Prior Editions of Our Newsletter

Planning Resilient Yards and Gardens

Our latest edition of "Life in the Garden" - our monthly garden column which runs in the Barrington Times Newspaper focused on Resilient Yards and Gardens. In case you missed it you can read it below.

Garden writer Josephine Neuse famously said, “Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with the dream.” January is perfect for dreaming, but February 2nd is the time we turn from dreams to plans. February 2nd , Groundhog Day, falls at the mid-point between the first days of astronomical winter and spring, and is a day marked by modern and ancient traditions. The most familiar involves our old friend the groundhog emerging from his den to predict whether winter will linger, or we will see an early spring. Whatever the groundhog shadow foretells, our winter witch hazel blooms have unfurled and signs of life are emerging in our gardens. It is time to dig deep on planning for the year ahead.

Last year Barrington experienced periods of extreme drought, unprecedented rainfalls and dramatic storms. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Rhode Island leads our region with the highest rate of warming since the beginning of the 20th century. A recent confluence of pounding storms paired with moon tides resulted in flooded backyards and roadways. All marked real time reminders of the fragility of this wonderful place we call home.

What does any of this have to do with garden planning? Discussions about habitat and biodiversity loss, resiliency and sustainability are on the rise at all levels of government, but 98% of land in Rhode Island is privately owned, controlled by individual gardeners of the past and the future. And so, it is outside our own doors where some key resiliency strategies lie. As you plan for spring, consider ways your yard can contribute to your wellbeing and to the greater good. With an eye towards bolstering biodiversity and mitigating harm, here are seven steps to get you started.

Click Here to Read the Seven Steps


(From Prickly Ed Himself)

Bee Balm is Red

Lobelia is Blue

Nature Loves Native Plants

And Your Sweetheart Will Too

Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away. And so sweethearts of all genders and ages (we are nothing if not inclusive here at Prickly Ed's), I thought I would share a few things I have learned about Valentine's Day gifting as my gift to you. First off, declaring it a commercialized holiday not worthy of celebrating or spending dollars on is not, it turns out, an actual winning strategy. Secondly, heavy duty pans and super cool vacuums may not be received with the same enthusiasm as they were given. Third, apparently at some point "pesticide drenched hot house flowers" became passé. Yes, admittedly I should have seen that one coming. Fourth, chocolates are always popular, but should not be restricted to one day of the year - you will find that a regular supply of these coupled with sufficient amounts of caffeine and wine make for a happy marriage. Finally, hand made cards are better received than I might have ever imagined and I suspect would be even better received if inside of them was tucked a gift certificate to - you guessed it - Prickly Ed's Cactus Patch Native Plant Emporium for delightful plant indulgences come springtime! So, we've got you covered. Send us a message and we will arrange to get you the gift of your Valentine's dreams.

Send Us A Message

Garden Planning - We've Got Your Habitat Building Back

Is it just us or is winter breezing by awfully quick this year? Despite the biting cold gripping our region later this week, spring is stirring - can you feel it? In a blink the Roadside Stand Native Plant Emporium will be open and another year of garden revelry will have begun! We are elbow deep in plant orders and are excited about the wide array of fantastic things we have in store for you this year. When our next newsletter hits your inboxes in March our preliminary plant lists will be posted and all the details on spring opening will be available. Eagerly stay tuned. Until then, happy planning!

Special Orders Don't Upset Us

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 redo of foundation plantings and need several 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

Have you visited the Planning Your Garden Page on our website? It is filled with tools you can use! We recently updated our resources adding information on planning for small spaces as well as deer resistant and salt tolerant plantings to help with some of the special conditions many of you are facing. Dig in to the tools and materials as you think through the steps you want to take to turn your yard into a buzzing habitat. With 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

Set Your Garden Free

Start by Rewilding One Half

Mary Reynolds is a landscape designer with a starry past. The story of her unlikely debut at the Chelsea Flower Show was made into a feature film (Dare to be Wild), but these days, she is more interested in being a guardian than a gardener. “Looking at gardens as artistic endeavors or feasts for the senses is outmoded,” she says at the beginning of her new book We Are the ARK, published this week. We need to get over ourselves, as it were, and shift our focus on to what and who we share our gardens with. It’s a highly readable manifesto on future gardening from a great communicator (see her Instagram), in which there is hope on every page. Hard facts are balanced with enthusiasm: Start small, but get going now. If everybody gave at least half of their outdoor space back to nature, the regenerative effect on the whole space would be so much more rewarding than the conventional act of gardening. “An ARK is a restored native ecosystem—a local small, medium or large rewilding project,” she explains. “It is an Act of Restorative Kindness to the earth.” Click below to take a look behind some of Mary’s ideas:

We Are the Ark - Click Here to Explore Rewilding

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

Featured below are some presentations that we will be attending and we think you would enjoy too. Whether you are just beginning on your nature-based gardening journey or are an experienced habitat builder there is something for everyone in the programs below. Also be sure to Save the Date - on the evening of Wednesday, May 31st we will be facilitating a presentation on gardening for pollinators and other life at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol. We'd love to see some of your friendly faces there. Stay tuned for more details.

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

Stay Connected on Facebook

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

The Barrington Pollinator Pathway, Creating Resiliency With Corridors of Habitat

Tuesday, May 23rd 1:00 - 2:00pm

at the Barrington Public Library

Join Board Members and Volunteers from the Barrington Land Conservation Trust (including Prickly Ed's own Cindy Larson Moura) on Tuesday, May 23 at 1 pm to learn more about the Pollinator Pathway Project here in town and explore ways that you can play an active part in helping to promote the success of the initiative at home and in the community. Focusing on a foundation of adding native pollinator-friendly host plants to your yard and building from there, presenters will discuss all of the interconnected ways that managing your property with pollinators, sustainability, resiliency, the environment, and wildlife in mind can have profound positive impacts on enhancing conservation efforts and bolstering biodiversity.

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

Register to attend The Barrington Pollinator Pathway - Creating Resiliency with Corridors of Habitat

Grow Native Massachusetts Presents We Are the Ark With Author Mary Reynolds

March 4th 1:00-2:30pm on Zoom

Our current environmental crises are born of modern humanity’s destructive re-shaping of Earth to suit our short-term interest. We have become so profoundly detached from the natural world that we have forgotten that we too depend on the web of life. Author and activist Mary Reynolds envisions a healing process where humans embrace our role as caretakers with Acts of Restorative Kindness to the Earth, or ARKs. Join us to learn how an ARK is different from a typical wildlife garden, and what principles to follow to create true sanctuaries for our shared kin, the rooted and the unrooted. Together, we can step up and become weavers of the web of life, re-stitch the threads we have broken, and build a patchwork quilt of life to restore our planet. Mary is a motivational speaker and founder of the global movement We Are The ARK.

We Are the Ark  - Click Here to Learn More and Register

Escaping the Stranglehold of

Invasive Plants

Tuesday, March 28th 1:00pm at the Barrington Public Library

Ever feel overwhelmed by the invasive plants in your garden, yard, and the public parks around you? This talk will help you identify those plants and develop strategies to combat their spread. Note that late winter is a good time to attack many of the worst of the worst so we will discuss what can be done at that time in particular. Sally Johnson, is a Certified Invasive Species Manager and owner of the native plant design firm, ecoastal design. She lives surrounded by her native plant garden on the East Bay Bike Path which was a mess of invasives when she bought the place. 

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

Register for Escaping the Stranglehold of Invasive Plants

Cultivars, What's All the Hullabaloo?

As you start digging in to the World of Native Plants you will begin to hear terms like "straight species", "cultivar" and "nativar" bantered about. Being a good consumer and a good habitat caretaker means knowing a bit about the differences. Simplistically, a native plant cultivar is a plant that is native to the area but has been cultivated by humans to have certain traits. These plants will typically have catchy names in parenthesis following the botanical names. We have gathered up several resources to help you explore this subject in advance of your springtime garden shopping adventures. The vast majority of plants we sell at the Native Plant Emporium are Straight Species. We do occasionally offer cultivars when there has been research conducted that shows they have equal or greater benefit and no harmful attributes.

Click Here for the Cultivar Conundrum - New Research on Natives versus Native Cultivars with Doug Tallamy 
Click Here To Watch "How Native Plant Cultivars Affect Pollinators" from the RI Wild Plant Society
Click Here to Read "Native Species or Cultivars of Native Plants" from Piedmont Master Gardeners

This Woman Wants to Destroy Your Lawn

(and we are rooting for her :-))

Heather McCargo established the Wild Seed Project in 2014 to teach people to appreciate and grow native plant species, helping to restore some of New England’s lost biodiversity. Initially, the organization comprised only McCargo, a working board, and a small cadre of volunteers, collecting and selling seeds from plants often written off as weeds — joe-pye weed, milkweed, jewelweed — mailing packets from McCargo’s home in Portland’s West End. In her backyard, McCargo planted more than 80 species of trees and shrubs, a demonstration plot with which she attracted curious gardeners and arborists — in the hopes of radicalizing them.

The rapid growth of the Wild Seed Project coincided with a broader war on lawns gaining traction across the country. Lawns in the U.S. cover a land mass about the size of Iowa, accounting for as much as half of all residential water consumption and a quarter of the use of several popular herbicides. Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment puts an estimated 20 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, and the emissions footprint of nitrogen-heavy lawn fertilizers is as bad or worse. Across the country, particularly in the parched West, cities and towns have started mandating the removal of turf grass and incentivizing permaculture, and more-naturalistic lawn alternatives have even begun catching on in New England, as the region slogs through years of severe drought.

Click Here to Read the Full Article from Downeast

Join the Community!

Friends of Homegrown National Park” Facebook Groups are focused on connecting individuals interested in working to implement Dr. Doug Tallamy’s vision of bolstering biodiversity by building back habitat at home. It is a vision where nature is encouraged to thrive everywhere we live through implementation of resilient landscaping practices rooted in a foundation of native plants. Learn more about it here

Click Here to Join the Life in the Garden - Friends of Homegrown National Park Southeastern New England Facebook Group and Connect with Others Working to Build Back Habitat at Home

Nature-Based Land Care from the Perfect Earth Project

The Perfect Earth Project was founded by renowned landscaper Edwina von Gal to promote toxin free lawns and landscapes for the health of people, their pets and the planet. Earlier this year they released a fabulous resource guide targeted to both homeowners and landscape professionals. Download it for your own use, and, if you use a landscaper pass a copy along to them as well.


Click Here to Read "Sedgescaping, They Share the Space Unselfishly"

Swooning Over Sedge

For green mulch, lawn replacement and much more, Carex, also known as sedges, are one of the most effective and versatile problem-solving plants for home gardens, according to a four-year trial conducted by Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. The trial evaluated 70 types of Carex, results are available in a recently released report. Carex can be found in a range of habitats and provide food and shelter for wildlife, as well as being a sustainable alternative to traditional lawns. Species were ranked based on plant vigor and foliage quality in both sun and shade locations. You can read the full report and see which varieties fared the best by clicking on the link below. We will offer several of the best performing Carex (sedge) varieties as deep rooted landscape plugs this season. If you are aiming to use sedge in drifts and masses and are in need of a large quantity contact us to pre-order to ensure availability.

Click Here to Read the Mt. Cuba Center Sedge Report 

Glover Grown Perennials -

The Newest Offering at the Native Plant Emporium

In 2023, we will continue to grow a wide variety of native perennials on site. But, we know that to have enough supply to meet all the growing native plant needs of the area we need to also procure some plants from area wholesalers. We work with a number of northeast wholesalers to get you the very best variety and absolute highest quality of native plants available in our region. One of the growers we are especially excited to introduce you to this season is Glover Perennials, located on Long Island. Learn more about them at the links below:

Click to Read About the Glover Grown Difference

Click to Read The Glover Essay Titled

"Lawnless on Long Island"

Glover Perennials Earns Rave Reviews from Martha Stewart - Click Here To Read All About It
Click Here to Download the Pollinator Plant Selection Guide from Glover

Mark Your Calendars and Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count Between February 17-20, 2023.

Each February, for four days, the world comes together for the love of birds. Over these four days people spend time in their favorite places watching and counting as many birds as they can find and reporting them through a Backyard Bird Count template. These observations help scientists better understand global bird populations before one of their annual migrations.

Click Here to Learn More About the Great Backyard Bird Count
Click Here to Read About the Return of the Hummingbirds

What's Just a Short 12 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 Native Plant Emporium

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.

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