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Our Native Gardens

ClearWater transitioned the area around our office from the typical landscaping found around most developments and commercial buildings into a garden featuring the benefit of native plants in 2003. Originally the garden was part of demonstration project. It was designed to encourage landowners to employ techniques on their property to improve the quality of the watershed through polluted stormwater runoff, conservation of water, and improvement of wildlife habitat. The garden continues to be a successful example of native planting in urban landscapes, offering an oasis for wildlife and beauty for the community.


Many volunteer hours go into maintaining the grounds, under the leadership of Terry Melton.

Impacts to Our Watershed




Impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops, cannot absorb stormwater. Instead, stormwater runs over these surfaces, picking up pollutants. This polluted stormwater is taken by the storm sewer system to the nearest stream. Polluted stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution in our streams, negatively impacting the watershed.



Rising demand for water is depleting our groundwater supplies. We can conserve groundwater by reducing our water use and by encouraging stormwater infiltration through the soil, which recharges the groundwater.



Development results in a loss of wildlife habitat through the removal of vegetation animals need for cover, nesting, food, and migration corridors.


Rain Barrels

Rain barrels disconnect storm water runoff from roofs and also provide a renewable source of water for plants during periods without rain.

Lawn Alternatives

Lawn alternatives preserve biodiversity and reduce the use of fertilizers and other chemical treatments.

Paving Alternatives

Paving alternatives the utilize permeable surfaces like pavers allow for water to infiltrate into the soil instead of flowing directly into surface water streams and waterways.

Native Plants

Using native plants prevents the spread of invasive species that can take over sensitive habitats and provide food, cover, and nesting sites for many native animal species.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens slow stormwater runoff allowing it to cool down and precipitate sediments while providing attractive landscaping features.

Wildlife Habitat

Providing wildlife with the resources they need, such as water and plants for cover, food, and nesting, not only helps them survive, but also will draw wildlife to your yard for your enjoyment!

Watershed-Wise Techniques


This week in the garden:

Weeds being pulled this week include Canada thistle, purple dead nettle, crown vetch, invasive honeysuckle shrubs, also Bradford pear, which is an aggressive invasive plant used in landscaping and it seeds in from surrounding landscapes and is really hard to pull out, even when small.
Also removing hyssop, which is a native plant but too aggressive for our garden, so we control it. It is in the mint family and they are known for their ability to spread and take over, sometimes too much!
Also removing volunteer non-native, crabapple seedlings.

Special Thanks to our Volunteers:

Karen and Tom Parrish
Joanna and Jim Santamaria
Terry Melton
Judy Faux
Pilar Beltran


-Herbaceous Perennial

-One of the first plants to bloom in our garden each year

-Attracts hummingbirds and is, in fact, pollinated by hummingbirds

-Dusty red flowers with yellow centers, distinctive leaves make this plant easy to identify even before blooming

-Shade tolerant native found on forest edges and meadows in natural areas

-Located in the shady section along the front walks, also a few have become scattered around in the garden, always a pleasant surprise to find another

-This is sadly an endangered species in Florida

-Herbaceous Perennial
-AKA blue false indigo, beautiful blue flowers and leaves, good for pollinators, mid-late spring blooming
-On the front corner in full sun
-In the legume family of plants which “fix nitrogen” in the soil. Legumes (peas, clovers, beans, indigo, others) grow in a symbiotic relationship with soil-dwelling bacteria. The bacteria take gaseous nitrogen from the air in the soil and feed this nitrogen to the legumes; in exchange the plant provides carbohydrates to the bacteria

-Has big, long seed pods like a giant pea pod, seeds rattle inside the pod when ripe
-We have enjoyed watching the bumblebees separate the flower petals and dive inside the flowers
-Does not handle crowding out by more aggressive plants well, so give it its own space.
-“false” wild indigo was once used as a source of blue dye but was replaced by the  “true” indigo plant brought from India

Interested in learning more about native plants and the benefits they provide? Consider volunteering in our native garden and find out first-hand how to care for, identify, and encourage native plant use in your landscape.

The mission of ClearWater Conservancy is to conserve and restore our natural resources through land conservation, water resources stewardship, and environmental outreach across central Pennsylvania.


T: 814-237-0400


2555 N. Atherton Street

State College, PA 16803


ClearWater Conservancy is a nonprofit organization. All material on this website is © ClearWater Conservancy.

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