SRT Native Plant Garden

The Saucon Rail Trail (SRT) Native Plant Garden was created in 2014 to serve the community as a Penn State Extension demonstration garden – a place for public engagement and learning about the role of native plants and the wildlife that interact with them. The garden was created by a team of Penn State Master Gardeners, as an unstructured meadow of mixed native species. It was redesigned and replanted in 2022 (mainly by rearrangement of the existing meadow plants) to enhance access to the interior, and to provide more aesthetic appeal.

What are native plants and why are they important? Plants that thrived in North America before European settlers arrived are considered native to our continent. They coevolved over millions of years with wildlife, especially insects. These plants and animals depend on each other for their mutual survival. Native plants attract a wide variety of pollinators, along with other species that depend upon the plants for food, shelter, and places to nest or lay their eggs.

Many insects are specialists, feeding exclusively on specific plants. An example is the relationship between the Monarch Butterfly and its host plant, milkweed. Birds, in turn, depend on insects as an important protein source, especially for feeding their young.

Native plant communities are threatened by pressures including development, invasive species, and over-browsing by deer. Homeowner yards and public spaces such as the SRT Native Plant Garden can be used to increase and improve the quality of wildlife habitat. Homeowners will find, unsurprisingly, that native plants thrive in local soils and without the need for fertilizers and without the use of pesticides.

When you visit the garden, be on the lookout for lots of life – butterflies and bees, amphibians, reptiles, and birds too! Throughout the growing season, rotating informational signs will highlight plants that are in bloom.

This project is a cooperative effort among local volunteers led by Penn State master gardeners, with support of the SRT Oversight Commission and Lower Saucon Township. We are always looking for new friends to tend the garden, take photographs, and plan events. If you have questions or want to get involved contact Maryann Snyder at

For more information on native plants in the Lehigh Valley visit Lehigh Valley Native Plant Directory

You can read the previous Reading Drive Meadow Update here