Going Native

Use native Plants to Restore The Local Ecosystem:

Our property is in the middle of renovation and though no one has complained yet, it looks like a construction site in almost every corner. I undertook the building an elaborate play area in the lower end of the property despite my wife’s warning that I would not  complete it in a timely manner, leaving a spiral slide and a pile of lumber. A mason has begun building a patio area of one corner of the house but has not had the time to come back and finish it leaving a pile of soil and bricks. In the midst of all this, we have decided to go native.

When everything is up in the air, and one is in the midst of change, sometimes that is the best time to consider more change. Our garden has been made up of the leftovers of other projects for quite some time. Being in the “trade”, I have had the mixed blessing of receiving materials in the form of trees and shrubs clients wanted removed, or rejected from jobs. A blessing because the cost is negligible in terms of dollars, but a curse because the material does not always represent the ideal selection were the space to be properly designed.

So in the midst of all this property renovation, we have decided to live up to some of the ecological ideals we have always espoused, specifically to start creating sections of native plants that better support the native wildlife.

Every ecosystem has plants around which it is based. In fact, all ecosystems require plants to function and thrive and green space is the basis for the survival of any ecosystem. When people come along and start reshaping the ecosystem by bringing in non-native plants, we actually damage the eco-system significantly by displacing native plants, which are literally manna from heaven to the eco-system. I’m not just talking invasive plants here, but plain old non natives which gardeners favor (forsythia, many roses, peonies, etc) that the local animals and insects are unfamiliar with.

Most of us are not all that fond of bugs or animals. In fact, there is a big fat rabbit living up on Benedict place along with raccoons and skunks and mice and I have to confess that my ideal property from a personal convenience point of view would not include these creatures and the smells, property destruction, invasion of home and garbage they represent. Just for the record, I’m not crazy about flies and mosquitoes either. However, These are all necessary creatures in the wider eco-system and have their place. They are necessary in supporting the complex web that supports us (humans).

Long story there to make a point, we are looking at pulling some of the non-native screening materials on the property and adding in native trees and evergreens around the perimeter. It’s expensive relative to how we have acquired most of our plant material, it’s a lot of work, and it’s the right thing to do. In the long run it will pay us back in supporting beneficial insects and local birds which will in turn feed on mosquitoes, and flies, and garden pests like aphids etc. If you want to eliminate or at least reduce pesticide use, re-introducing natives is vital. Not just one or two plants here and there, but groups of them as they would grow were people less of a disturbance to the original eco-system.

We will avoid natives like Eastern Hemlock, which unfortunately is prey to wooly aldegid, but we are looking at Amelanchiers, Thuja occidentalis, Vaccinium angustifolium, Pinus resinosa, Picea rubens, Pinus strobus, Prunus virginiana, Rhododendron calendulaceum, and are exploring a number of other plants for border areas where the purpose is screening and less ornamental. In the process, we will be removing invasive plants like English ivy, which local rats favor(rats are not natives by the way, they came in with Dutch and English ships) . Also burning bush, honeysuckle, and ailanthus that have taken root in neglected corners. Of course, the other projects must be finished first, in fact I’m going to go clean up that “play area” that is in process as soon as I send this off. For a more complete list of native plants, go to http://www.wildflower.org a site sponsored by the Ladybird Johnson wildlife center. Start  creating an environment that sustains itself. Support local beneficial wildlife by restoring the plants that were here before we were.

 

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