Public Info

Learn How to Create a Haven for Native Plants in Union County

Union County, NJ – What is the difference between a good plant and a bad plant? Plenty, if you want to contribute to a healthy environment. Conservationists are encouraging home owners and professional landscapers alike to plant native species that help support a natural, flourishing ecosystem in local communities.

To help gardeners learn how to select beneficial plants and avoid the “bad” ones, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders invites the public to a special free event, Good Plants and Bad Plants: How to Tell the Difference and Support Healthy Ecosystems, on Saturday, May 18 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Trailside Nature & Science Center, 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

The event is free but pre-registration is required by emailing

Landscapers and property managers are encouraged to attend, as well as homeowners, gardeners, civic and environmental organizations, and members of the public who are interested in conserving native species.

“Anyone who works in a yard, garden, or any other landscaped space throughout Union County can help support pollinator preservation, water conservation, and other important environmental causes by eliminating harmful invasive species and planting more native species,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

Good Plants and Bad Plants is presented by Mike Van Clef, an expert on rare and invasive species and co-founder of the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team. Mr. Van Clef has 25 years of experience in the field of ecological health monitoring and natural resource policy.

Mr. Van Clef will explain why native plants are important, how to select beneficial native plants for their property or business, and how to help foster a healthy, diverse ecosystem in the Union County community.

Members of the public are also invited to Trailside on Thursday, June 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., for a native plant “Swap & Shop” at the Union County Demonstration Garden.

Attendees can bring an invasive plant from their property and trade it for a native plant free of charge, purchase additional native plants on site, and tour the elaborate grounds. Pre-registration is required by emailing

For additional guidance on beneficial plants in the Union County area download the free “Plant This, Not That” brochure from the County website.

To help conserve and improve the habitat in Union County parks, volunteer with the Adopt-a-Park program. Information on volunteering is online at or call 908-789-3683. Any individual or group is welcome to join.

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities visit The Green Connection,

Good Plants and Bad Plants is a special presentation of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation Environmental Services office through the New Jersey Watershed Ambassador Program, a project of Americorps and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

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For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

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