Annual ‘Bringing Nature Home’ Awards recognize local native plant gardeners

Annual ‘Bringing Nature Home’ Awards recognize local native plant gardeners

Several northwestern Indiana home gardeners have recently been recognized by Shirley Heinze Land Trust and St. Joseph County Parks with “Bringing Nature Home” program awards. The goal of the program is to encourage gardeners to foster healthy natural ecosystems by including plant species that are native to northwestern Indiana into their gardens and landscapes.

The program is divided into two categories: Home Garden/Landscape and Institutional Landscapes. This year’s Home Garden category recognitions have been awarded to Kathryn Walsh of St. John, Martha Byler of South Bend, Peggy Foster of Valparaiso, Jamie Robinson of South Bend, Rita Jackson of Chesterton, Mary Nell Murphy of Michigan City, Anne Walsh of Chesterton, and Carol Heikema of Hobart.

This year’s Institutional category awardee is the Valparaiso Public Library, for its parking lot bioswale planting. The institution will be recognized during Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Fall Partnership Luncheon, to be held at The Market in Valparaiso on November 1.

The “Bringing Nature Home” program was founded in 2011 by the Friends of Shirley Heinze, a group of former board members. The program takes its name from a book written by native-plant advocate Douglas Tallamy, which addresses the important role played by native vegetation in providing a critical source of food, shelter and migration ‘waystations’ for insects, birds and other wildlife.

 Plantings in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties are eligible to apply for the award, with assistance from the St. Joseph County Parks Department for St. Joseph County applicants. The 2019 program is now closed. For more information about the program and to see photos of all of the award recipients, visit

Since 1981, Shirley Heinze Land Trust has protected, restored and maintained northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat. More than 2,400 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit. Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature. Six of its properties have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves. The organization also works to educate people of all ages to appreciate the importance of land conservation, and to experience the natural wonders of this unique region. Its work is accomplished through a partnership of volunteers, donors, and professionals.

To learn more about Shirley Heinze Land Trust and how to become involved, visit the website at or call (219) 242-8558.