Landscaping with native species–whether just a cluster of pots on a city balcony or a many-acre degraded industrial site–re-weaves the community of nature around us. Plants are the structure or backbone of natural communities, the framework on which other relationships are built. They provide the housing, cover, food, and sensory invitation for wildlife.
They are also our “breathing buddies,” as the poet Clifford Burke puts it: they respire the oxygen we inhale, and they inhale the carbon dioxide we (and our industrial processes) exhale. Without plants, Earth, our home planet would not only be bare, it would be barren of life as we know it. So be nice to the plants around you–not only do they add beauty to this world, they make our lives possible.
Why plant native species? The plants adapted to your particular site “know” how to summon other native species, from hummingbirds and butterflies to beneficial microbes in the soil and macro-sized native grazers. Once established they need less watering, fertilizing and tending than non-natives. They’re less fussy about weather and soil conditions, more likely to thrive through the wild swings in weather from month to month and year to year that may defeat non-native or highly bred plants.
Further, native plants have the magic of belonging: they “speak” to other native species via the chemical language shared by plants and all other species (even we humans dimly remember the language of scents–hence our use of perfumes and scents of all sorts). Such plant “talk” summons the other species–birds, insects, and animals large and small–whose interactions weave healthy communities, bringing the beauty and nurturing qualities of nature back to our yards and neighborhoods.
Note: Once I figure out how to move my slide shows to WordPress, this page will offer a look at some of the award-winning “wildscaping” projects I’ve been involved in, bringing the nature’s solace and ever-changing show home to where we live.