Statement on Collecting Plants
Wild plants belong in the wild. Taking plants from the wild threatens the ecosystem, and destroys the natural beauty that should be available to all. Some of our loveliest plants are now rare because they were collected for garden use.
The Connecticut Botanical Society condemns removing wild plants for gardening or for commercial purposes. The only exception is plants that are about to be destroyed by development of the land -- such plants can ethically be taken from the wild. (Legally, one must have the owner's permission to take plants.)
For nearly any native plant that makes a good garden plant, there is a commercial source of nursery-propagated plants. If a showy wildflower isn't available from reputable nurseries, that usually means it simply doesn't survive in the garden -- it requires a complicated set of conditions that cannot be replicated in a garden.
Look for "nursery propagated" plants -- these are plants that were not taken from the wild. "Nursery grown" offers no such guarantee -- the plants may have grown in pots in the nursery for a brief time after having been taken from the wild. If in doubt about a vendor's sources, ask! Ethical vendors are generally happy to describe their methods in detail.
Native plants have become much more readily available. Any garden center will carry some of the popular native plants, and some of Connecticut's nurseries maintain a large selection of natives. A list of Connecticut sources for native plants is available from Plant Native. If you can't find your plant locally, try mail-order nurseries. In addition, the New England Wildflower Society has an excellent selection of natives in their annual seed sale and at their nurseries in Framingham and Whately, Massachusetts.
For particularly hard-to-find plants, our fellow gardeners on the web can help. An inquiry to Gardenweb's Plant Sources or Native Plants forum will usually produce a source, even for obscure plants.