Readers might have noticed a touch of defensiveness on my part about growing what I call "so-called alien" plants, even a few that have been fingered as threatening the native ones somehow, somewhere (e.g. I never ripped out the ivy on my property; just keep it in bounds and out of trees). I got that way because as a local hort club prez and writer I’ve had many visitors in my garden and been subjected to attacks about various plants that visitors disapprove of, and other gardeners who opened their gardens to our members at my urging have been treated just as badly, to my horror and embarrassment. And sometimes I think I’m the ONLY gardener who doesn’t like being treated like I’m GulfMobil or Monsanto for growing plants that others disapprove of, presumably because my town is WAAAAAY off the charts political (to the left), enough to make lots of diehard lefties like myself feel like moderates.
But then we ran a review of the latest native plant advocacy book and here’s what some commenters had to say:
Janet Marinelli at hte Brooklyn Botanic Garden wrote "Is Native-Plant Gardening LInked to Fascism?
in response to Michael POllan’s screed "Against Nativism"
And so I think we should avoid the terms "alien plant" and "invasive alien."
My Webster’s defines "alien" as follows: "belonging or relating to another
person or placeâstrange…different in nature or character." When we use
these terms, we not only risk fanning the flames of xenophobia but also miss
the point. The crux of the invasive plant problem, as Neil Diboll pointed out,
"isn’t point of origin but rather behavior"âthat is, the problems that
invasives cause for other plants and animals.
I’d venture to say that someday nativeness won’t be much of an issue at all.
Someday we’ll know enough about ecology to be able to create totally new plant
communities, combining species from around the globe, that add to, rather than
subtract from, the planet’s wonderful variety of life forms. Even though I am
convinced of the need for ecological restoration in the home garden as well as
the larger landscape, I don’t think people willâor shouldâbe content
to simply re-create the plant communities of the past.