Including native plants in our landscaping can provide multiple benefits. Alders are a good example. They provide habitat for insect pollinators, butterflies, and birds while their leaf litter and rare nitrogen-fixing characteristics improve soil quality. Their seeds are an important winter bird food, and their quick growth can provide excellent firewood or noise and privacy buffers.
Learning about native plants can teach us about our land. For example, the presence of nettles, horsetail and alders says “wet soil.” Removing them could create soggy soil and increased water loss through run-off.
Several of our native plants are prized for their ornamental value. Once established, they need little care or extra water during dry summer months. Local native plant businesses and gardeners are a great source of local knowledge.
Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. A.R. Kruckberg (book)
The Ann Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening: Natural, Sustainable, Organic. A. Lovejoy, 2007 (book)
Gardening in Western Washington (WSU Extension Service). Stewardship, selection, and identification of native plants.