Social media can be a wonderful tool for opening our eyes to the world around us. A quick flick of the thumb and we’re scrolling through an Australian sunset, a party in New York, a meal in a French café. But what about the wonders of our own back yard? Native plants support robust ecosystems of native insects, birds, and other wildlife that we might not even notice unless someone were to point them out to us. Fortunately, we’ve collected a handful of Instagram accounts that not only showcase the beauty of native ecologies, but use the app as a platform to educate others about the intricacies of these ecosystems and the flora and fauna that comprise them.
1. Joe Fransen – @mynativeplantgarden
Joe Fransen’s love of native plants bloomed as a child growing up in northern Illinois. His neighbors gardened with natives and shared mayapples and bellworts with him. Wanting to share his love of gardening with native plants, Fransen took to Instagram where he’s been sharing images of his native plants garden in Connecticut ever since. “What I really enjoy about gardening with natives is being able to watch each plant as it matures from year to year, and the amount of wildlife that the garden as a whole attracts,” says Fransen. “I would tell someone who hasn’t considered planting natives that native plants can be just as beautiful in the garden as exotic ornamental plants, and seeing firsthand the role they play in benefiting wildlife is very rewarding.”
2. Enid – @bibliophyll
Enid describes herself as “compulsive reasearcher… endlessly enthralled with all the curious little bits of information out there about the natural world.” This comes across loud and clear through the @bibliophyll feed. The Colorado native takes beautiful macro shots of insects in their natural habitats, throwing into focus the importance of native plants and the assortment of life they support. Her detailed descriptions and enthralling photos both inform and delight. “My hope is by sharing my admiration for the complex lives of these little arthropods, I might spark or sustain an appreciation for them in others,” says Enid. “The more we understand about them the more we will be able to value and respect them; after all, we have insects to thank for making life on Earth possible.”
3. Ellen Honeycutt – @usinggeorgianativeplants
Ellen Honeycutt’s Instagram account is the companion feed to her long-running blog, Using Georgia Native Plants. Honeycutt got into gardening by watching her father spend hours in his own garden while she grew up. After joining the Georgia Native Plants Society, she built a passion for gardening with natives and educating others about their value. She brings a kind eye and superb insight to her local ecologies. We recommend checking out her blog as well as her feed.
4. Weedalogue – @weedalogue
Weedalogue is a years-long project of Philadelphia resident Gendler to document and categorize the unintended plantings of Philadelphia. By necessity, this feed includes a fair amount of invasive plants. But we appreciate Gendler’s dedication to uplifting so many plants—especially natives—which are often derided for their “weedy” appearance despite their ecological importance and even once-valued medicinal and culinary uses. Gendler’s feed celebrates the beauty and tenacity of plants thriving where we least expect, and offers valuable insight into the plants we are most likely to ignore.
5. Mt. Cuba Center – @mtcubacenter
Mt. Cuba Center leverages its extensive collection of native plants to educate its followers about their value and the myriad ways that native plants support entire ecosystems, from pollinators to waterways and everything in between. The feed also highlights native plants research, from plant trials to field collecting. Follow for a deeper understanding and appreciation for native plants and the creatures that rely on them.