Sorry, but when GardenRant was moved to WordPress and to a different server, the beginning of this post was somehow lost. I believe I’m referring to hearing an NWF spokesman interviewed on the Earthbeat Radio.
Also, if we plant natives, we’ll help wildlife and conserve water because “natives don’t need extra water.“ (Though some plants apparently didn’t get that memo, starting with Cornus florida, especially compared to its Asian counterpart.)
All of which led me to finally consult the NWF’s Gardener’s Guide to Global Warming for further instruction.
One of the ways people are harming ecosystems is by introducing nonnative (“exotic”) species into places that are outside of their natural habitat range. In fact, many of the most popular garden plants are exotic species, brought in from another part of the country or from places around the world. Although not all exotic species cause problems for native ecosystems, a number of nonnative plants have become highly invasive in their new surroundings, outcompeting native species and turning diverse ecosystems into virtual monocultures.
Anybody feeling defensive yet? But native plants are threatened directly by climate change, too:
Shifts in average temperatures, precipitation patterns and other changes due to global warming will mean that many native and iconic plants may no longer find suitable climate conditions in major portions of their historic range.
She’s referring to their prediction that 28 state trees and flowers will no longer exist in large parts of their native range by the end of the century. And just when I’m wondering about the seeming contradiction of advising us to grow plants that aren’t doing so well these days, here’s the explanation:
Incorporate a diversity of native plants into your landscape. That way, if some plants succomb to extreme events, such as heat waves, there is a likelihood that some important plants will still be available to support wildlife.
JUST STOP GARDENING
Soooo, the only way we can stop doing harm is to convert our gardens into preserves for indigenous plants, using a large assortment of them so that after the weak ones succomb, there will still be some survivors. That way we can “feel good knowing that you’re not adding even more on top of this problem.”
I know I can be a pain complaining about generalizations – from any source – but have I mentioned that sometimes they confuse the public, whose gardening attempts so often result in plant death, disappointment over the resulting appearance, and the eventual abandonment of gardening altogether?
Here’s another example:
Practice xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is an approach to landscaping that minimizes outdoor water use while maintaining soil integrity through the use of native, drought-tolerant plants.
Is that really the common definition of xeriscaping? Wikipedia’s entry only mentions native plants once and it’s to make a very different point: “Appropriate choice and arrangement of a plant (or plants) – where possible, plants that are native to the area or to similar climates, as well as other plants that tolerate or avoid water stress.”
I just see how easily the earnest people in my earnest little town are discouraged in their attempts to garden. They need some seriously practical advice, not what Michele and others have aptly described as rhetoric.
THE HORT GUY RISES IN OUR DEFENSE
On a happier note, Earthbeat host Mike Tidwell had the good sense to include Todd Forrest of the New York Botanical Garden on the show. Here’s what Todd had to say to gardeners:
Our position in the environment as gardeners should make us feel we’re important and have more enthusiasm about our contribution because by
making healthy green places, we mitigate climate globally. Plants are part of the solution. What you’re doing contributes to a more beautiful and healthier planet.
Thanks, Todd. That’s the impression I get when I look around my garden at the hundreds of plants teaming with insects and birds and way too many
squirrels. It’s a happy mishmash of tough, no-care plants from all over the world, most of them seriously drought-tolerant. I could be
wrong but it sure seems to make a positive contribution to the local air, water and wildlife. I know it has a positive effect on the
spirit of most everyone who sees it, smells it, breaths it, and hears it. And that’s my defense of gardening.