Friday, August 19, 2011

Native Plant Myths and Slow Gardening Movement

A recent post on Garden Rant had Doug Tallamy disproving myths about natives, since so many folks are hesitant to use them.

One of the myths is that native plants get more "infestations" of "pests." In other words native insects are using them as host plants and can severely defoliate them. True, this happens, but with native plants you also bring in native benificial insects, or predator bugs, that keep native insects "causing damage" in check. All three things--native plant, native insect hosting on plant, and native predator bug or bird--have evolved over thousands of years to keep a delicate balance. By planting native you won't have defoliated plants. Tallamy noticed a 1.5%-4% level of damage on natives, well below the 10% threshold when we begin to notice damage by casually observing plants.

And here's a slow gardening checklist by Felder Rushing. Points I especially like:

-- Spread out your chores over days and even weeks.
-- Right plant for right place.
-- Have something in bloom every day of the year (plan your plants).
-- Lose some of your lawn by extending plant beds into curves, thus limiting the amount of backing up you have to do while mowing.
-- Use quiet hand tools over loud power equipment (this produces a more tranquil, calming, relaxing, theraputic time in the garden vs. a mad rush or work frenzy).
-- Keep a garden journal, take photos, have a rain gauge, stock a bird feeder. All of these things connect you to your tiny ecosystem and make you more aware of your place and world, grounding you firmly, all of which give you a sense of calm and confidence.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Native Plants in Traditional Landscape Beds

Just because you have or want more native plants does not mean you must have a "wild" prairie in your landscape (though that would be neat). My garden certainly doesn't look like a prairie, however, all the native plants are allowed to fulfill their ecological functions--working with one another to improve the soil, providing seed for local birds, giving nectar to native insects, and serving as host plants for all kinds of wildlife.

Two days ago I had 5 monarch butterflies, two tiger swallowtails, a red-spotted purple butterfly, and a loving pair of goldfinches all in the garden at once (not to mention all the other wildlife).

Here's a great post by a landscape designer discussing how native plants can and should be used in our traditional American borders and flower beds in the home landscape.

We're almost to fall planting time! Get ready for spring in September and October--it'll help numb the thoughts of an impending winter (pun intended).