05 October 2009

Introducing The Natives Project

Beyond feeling vaguely virtuous when I plant something labeled 'native' and vaguely guilty when I hear a plant I love may be invasive, I've basically ignored the issues of native and invasive plants as a gardener. Partly because I'm afraid I'll have to stop growing some of my favorite plants, partly because it quickly becomes confusing.

What even makes a plant 'native' for my garden? Native to the US? Native to Michigan? Native to the Great Lakes Region? What about those (fabulous) new echinacea? Man-made hybrids between two species native to the Eastern US, neither of which would have grown in the woodland that was my yard before it become part of an ailing industrial city. Native? Non-native? Synthetic abomination? Just plain lovely so who cares?

Same with invasive species... Should I stop planting my beloved cardoons because they are an invasive weed in California? They can't make it through a winter here, but who knows, maybe the seeds could.

And what about plants for wild life habitate? Is native always better? What about the  non-native crab apples loaded with fruit that native song birds love?

There are so many issues to consider and questions to answer, but I've decided I can't ignore these issues any longer. Environmental stewardship is important to me: I ride my bicycle instead of driving, bring my own bags to the grocery store -- I ought to be informed on this significant environmental issue.

So I'm going to figure it out -- here, on this blog. I'm going to be reading everything I can find on the subject, thinking about it, talking to people who seem knowledgeable, and blogging about it all here. Hopefully, comments and questions from you, my readers, will help expand the discussion along the way, and we'll all come out at the end with a clearer understanding of the issues involved.

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