Why I’m Going Native in My Garden

Photo © Ross Murray

Photo © Ross Murray

Guest Post by Ross Murray

[Editor’s note: I saw this post in the Kentucky Native Plant Society Facebook group, and I wanted to share it here with you because this author makes some great points. Thanks to Ross Murray for allowing me to reprint it here! ~ Carole Sevilla Brown]

Ecosystems all over the country and all over the world are being degraded and destroyed by our bulldozers and other directly destructive behavior. This is the stuff that we see on TV and get asked to give to this cause or that cause so that small islands of native plants, insects, and animals can be protected and preserved in those little islands called nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

But this doesn’t seem to be working and we wonder why. Plants and animals move and ebb. Life has to move and if we confine them to these small places they are vulnerable to disease and disaster.

Photo © Ross Murray

Photo © Ross Murray

A bigger problem than all of this direct destruction are the nonnative plants, insects and animals that are being transported by human beings all across the globe. Each and every island that we are trying to protect is failing. They are all being invaded by nonnative invasives and we don’t seem to be getting it. Intact ecosystems seem to do okay in battling the invaders, but all it takes is an “in” for them….a tornado….a hiker carrying in seeds on her shoes……a tree dying and a bird dropping a seed.

Photo © Ross Murray

Photo © Ross Murray

Every time you plant something that has a chance of spreading is liking setting a bomb off in the ecosystem. The more easily it is spread, the larger the explosion and the more damage it does. But in the end, if a nonnative plant will spread at all or even if there is a chance it will spread, it should not be planted.

To do so, means that you are not only standing by and letting the world slowly lose its regional uniqueness, you are participating in its death. One plant that produces 100 viable seeds will exponentially spread into the surrounding environment.

Photo © Ross Murray

Photo © Ross Murray

If we instead chose to make a stand against the darkness and never plant anything that will spread and displace our natives and only plant natives, then suddenly those islands of native plants, animals and insects are no longer islands but part of a greater ecosystem that suddenly stretches far and wide across our country and world.

In order for us to keep “alive” the wonderful diversity that we still have, we have to stop thinking about what we want and ourselves exclusively. We have to develop a new paradigm. We have to figure out how to have something closer to a 0 impact. If we don’t, then we might as well give up and stop trying to protect our native plants and animals. Otherwise we will continue to provide enemy troops with a safe haven while they assault all that we hold dear. We are providing comfort to our own enemies. We are carrying for and pampering the progenitors of our enemies as our beloved children. Giving them special fertilizer, watering them and keeping the weeds down so they can grow and produce seed.

Photo © Ross Murray

Photo © Ross Murray

This is the reason that I’m about to take out all of the nonnatives out of my office yard and replace them with all natives. If I do plant a nonnative, it will be one that I am sure isn’t going to spread and cause havoc with the ecosystem around me.

I know some of you will think that I am being melodramatic. But ask yourselves if what I am saying has the ring of truth to it. I believe it does. I welcome you to try to find holes in it. It will help me perfect my argument.

Ross Murray owns a farm in Kentucky, and will be converting his office landscape to native plants this spring. He’s a member of the Kentucky Native Plant Society

© 2014, Guest Author. All rights reserved. This article is the property of Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Don’t Miss the Wren Song Community

Wren Winter Singing crop

Free Exclusive Content and Member's Forum

Sign up for a free membership in the Wren Song Community and you'll have access to a lot more valuable information published exclusively for our members.

Meet other passionate wildlife gardeners from around the country. Share your successes. Learn from your failures. Discover the best resources to help you create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your gardens with native plants so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, native pollinators, and other wildlife to your garden.

Learn more about the Wren Song Community

Comments

  1. says

    Ross,
    Thank you so much for allowing me to share your post! You are so right that each of us can make a difference by carefully choosing which plants we allow in our gardens. Native bees, butterflies, and birds are all relying on us to plant those things that support them, and that is native plants!
    Carole Sevilla Brown recently posted..Restoring the Monarch Butterfly

  2. says

    We never know what will become invasive, besides the fact that natives just might be more beneficial to insects and other wildlife. If even one species becomes invasive, it’s a massive problem that will suck millions of dollars to try and manage. Is that worth it? You are not being melodramatic at all. And not only do we need to create more selfless gardening, more wildlife refuges in each yard, but we need the biodiversity that comes with it — that means less cultivars grown from cuttings and more natives grown from open pollinated seed.
    Benjamin Vogt recently posted..Derrick Jensen on Ethics and Morals

  3. Terri B says

    Carole – Thank you so much for all you do and for reaching out to Ross to share his passionate story.
    Ross – No you are not being melodramatic – in my opinion you are spot on. Mike and I are so excited to be able to personally see your transformation. I hope Carole will do another guest post showing your transformation. You have a gift for words and the love in your heart to make an impression not only to your community where you live but also the community that you reach via Carole and her very successful Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blogs.

  4. Ruth Loiacano says

    Short of inviting our cooperative extension agencies in to help us in our efforts to turn our homes/green spaces native; what are some suggestions you would advise people to try?
    At a -base- level, would the first, best step be to strip the lawns of non-natives and seed them with (in my region) clover, or buckwheat…etc?

    • Marilyn Stewart says

      Don’t know if it’s allowed to recommend a book here, but Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy is quite simply, the best book on why to garden with natives I’ve ever read. He and Rick Darke have a new one coming out in June that delve more into the hows of going native.

  5. Jan Gable says

    I am a devoted old gardener new to native and wildlife gardening; I appreciate Ross’ thoughts as being “from the start” of thinking this way. I hit the books to learn Going Native the minute I retired (Thanks, Carole and all) a year ago. I get it on WHY we will do this. Thrilled. I am struggling a little on the aesthetic/artistic side, and that will be my fun challenge. Thoughts anyone?
    Ruth, a basic on-line course The Five Pillars of Ecosystem Gardening is at http://www.ecosystemgardening.com/, a sister publication.

    -Jan, in the Delaware Valley

  6. says

    One way that it might be possible to create & maintain at least a network of native habitat is to encourage the State agencies that maintain highway (and any arterial) corridors to utilize native plants exclusively. In Washington, our State Dept of Transportation has moved in that direction… leaving behind the english ivy, scotch broom, and other invasive non-native plants that they once utilized along our roads. It’s making a difference. ^..^

    • Marilyn Stewart says

      John, I completely agree with you! I am involved with a group called Color Oklahoma and our mission is to plant and promote wildflowers along the roadsides. Our greatest obstacle is the department of transportation, they simply cannot seem to understand the value (on any level) of our native plants. When I see the mowers out mowing down the plants in full bloom I cry.

  7. Peggy Murray says

    Thank you for the info on growing native. I’ve been interested in this for a couple of years. The trees between my yard and the neighbor’s yard are being invaded with kudzu. When I go out to the conservation area, I see a lot of the invasive pear trees. They are pretty in bloom but they just keep multiplying. There are lots of beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that are native to my state. I plan on growing some flowers this year. Keep spreading the word.

Trackbacks

  1. […] … A bigger problem than all of this direct destruction are the nonnative plants, insects and animals that are being transported by human beings all across the globe. Each and every island that we are trying to protect is failing. They are all being invaded by nonnative invasives and we don’t seem to be getting it. Intact ecosystems seem to do okay in battling the invaders, but all it takes is an “in” for them….a tornado….a hiker carrying in seeds on her shoes……a tree dying and a bird dropping a seed. …  […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current ye@r *

CommentLuv badge