Many botanical gardens today are displaying more than a collection of pretty plants from exotic places around the world. Wander along garden paths and you’ll spot native species, along with hummingbirds and butterflies and bees hovering amongst the blooms. As Robert Frost wrote, “Butterflies . . . flowers that fly and all but sing.” Public gardens are featuring wildlife habitats.


Our world isn’t the same as it was 200 years ago and while historical gardens and exotic species are interesting, they may not sufficiently support pollinators and birds in our home gardens. There’s no denying the beauty and tranquility of a Japanese garden or the importance of saving rare or endangered plants. Yet there’s a shift from focus on where a plant originated from to how it adapts and performs in a site. The National Wildlife Federation considers a plant native “if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction.”

Gardeners, both professional horticulturalists and everyday plant enthusiasts, are embracing a stewardship role to protect and nurture trees, shrubs, vines, flowers and the ecosystem of wildlife they serve. Remember, birds, butterflies, pollinators and other local wildlife have 4 requirements: food, water, and places for nesting and resting.

For starters, here are some inspiring public gardens designated as a Certified Wildlife Habitat® by the National Wildlife Federation with native plant inspirations.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Donald E Davis Arboretum – Auburn University
Huntsville Botanical Garden
Georgeson Botanical Garden – University of Alaska Fairbanks
The Arboretum at Flagstaff
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Botanical Garden of the Ozarks
Clovis Botanical Garden
Dunsmuir Botanical Garden
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Pleasant Valley Historical Society – Charles L. Honn Botanical Garden & Gazebo
San Diego Botanic Garden
Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield Farms
Denver Zoo Pollinator Pathway (200,000th Certified Wildlife Habitat)
University of Delaware Botanic Gardens
Plantation Botanical Garden – City of Plantation
Robert J Huckshorn Arboretum
Selby Botanical Gardens
Stranahan Botanical Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center – Ethnobotanic Gardens
Savannah Botanical Gardens
Smyrna Arboretum
The Hart County Botanical Garden
Clegg Botanical Garden
Ghurye Arboretum – Sycamore Land Trust
Iowa Arboretum
The Arboretum – State Botanic Garden of Kentucky
LSU Hilltop Arboretum
Brookside Gardens
HP Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens
Mt Washington Arboretum
Berkshire Botanical Garden
For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nicholos Arboretum
Tomlinson Arboretum
Northland Arboretum
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum
Missouri Botanical Garden – Whitmire Wildflower Garden
Powell Gardens
New Jersey
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum
Reeves-Reed Arboretum
The Thielke Arboretum
UUCCH Arboretum
New York
Bailey Arboretum
George Landis Arboretum
Narrow Botanical Garden
North Carolina
Arboretum at Tanglewood
Brunswick County Botanical Garden
Cape Fear Botanical Garden
JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University
Nash County Arboretum
New Hanover County Extension Arboretum
Pitt County Arboretum
The Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden
Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens – The Ohio State University
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Cleveland Botanical Garden
Cox Arboretum MetroPark
Dawes Arboretum
Althouse Arboretum
Merion Botanical Park
Pleasant Hills Arboretum
Rhoneymeade Arboretum
Tanger Arboretum
South Carolina
South Carolina Botanical Garden
South Dakota
Pierre Native Plant Arboretum

Drummonds Park Arboretum
East Texas Arboretum & Botanical Society
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
Norfolk Botanical Garden
Old City Cemetery Museums & Arboretum
The Edith J Carrier Arboretum – James Madison University
Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens
Kruckeberg Botanic Garden
Wildlife Botanical Gardens
Washington, District of Columbia
United States Botanic Garden (100,000th Certified Wildlife Habitat)
The Harmony Arboretum

Native plants are in decline in many areas. To search the Native Plant Finder — enter your zip code and find native plants for a specific area. Based on the research of Dr. Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware and in partnership with the United States Forest Service.