Painting the yard in native flora

Amoret and Scott Heise rarely cut flowers to bring inside.

“All we gotta do is look out the window,” Scott said.

As members of the Indiana Native Plant and Wildlife Society, they plant their yard with flowering native plants, shrubs and trees, Amoret said. They do some planning and arranging, but also let them find their own way, watching the colors “creep” and blend.

“They know where they’re happy, and there have been some fun kind of accidents,” Amoret said. “It spreads color throughout the yard in an interesting way.”

There’s always a bloom to catch the eye, from spring to frost. “It just keeps changing,” she said. “It’s kind of like our way of painting.”

The couple married in 1999 and have been weeding, pruning, planning and planting together ever since.

“I like getting out and spending the whole day, getting my hands dirty,” Scott said.

Amoret most enjoys watching the succession — seasonally and the natural progress of plants around the yard.

Everything they plant is native to this area.

Beyond the beauty they bring, sticking to native plants has other benefits: “If you have all non-native plants, you might notice that you don’t have a lot of butterflies and bees in your yard,” she said.

Different types of pollinators are dependent on different types of plants. In the case of Monarch butterfly and milkweed, one depends on the other as a larval host, Amoret said.

Milkweed, which is native to Indiana, is one particular plant the society encourages people to grow.

Monarchs have declined in response to a reduction in milkweed, Amoret said. In the last year, they have rebounded some, but are still in trouble.

While their beauty may be more subtle than that of the flowers, the native insects offer their own show. Scott described watching a bumblebee find its way into a bottle gentian — a flower with petals that do not open.

There is only a small hole, seemingly too small for a fat bumblebee to slip through, he said. Yet, the bee knows exactly how to pry back the petals and fit through.

He smiled describing how flower jiggles and dances as the bee works itself around, trying to get back out.

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.