I am constantly bombarded with the simple question of “Why Native Plants?”. I have heard and read from my peers in this forum and others the same thing over and over again. I also hear practitioners, and those “in the know” struggle to find a clear and concise answer to the question. I think, as a group of people trying to educate the public, we are simply too polite in the conversation.
It is in our nature as patient, knowledgeable folks, to avoid offending anyone in the room. We know and realize that everyone comes to the table with a specific set of experiences that drive what they want from their landscape (large or small). As a result, it can be a challenge to state the reasons plainly and clearly for the use of a “Native Plants Only” approach.
Folks typically think that a hard line is bad line, because we seem to want desperately to please everyone participating in the conversation. When the rubber hits the road, we find that the allowances are not extended to the flora and fauna of the regions we are in, but rather our personal desire to have it our way.
I do tell people that Native is the best way to go for so many reasons. I play to all the common sense ideals of monetary and water savings, environmentally friendly, and generally the right thing to do. Still I find many people, I suspect the majority, are interested in the right color scheme or the best looking lawn in the neighborhood and so on. This last statement is a fun one for me because once I explain how expensive and lifeless a bluegrass lawn truly is, most people are embarrassed with how they started the conversation.
So, why Native only? It is the only way to help steward our inclusion in a landscape, creating a sense of place. Simply, it allows our inclusion in a landscape to be functional without detriment to every other player in or from that landscape. Humans need not feel bad about having desires, just bad about perpetuating ignorance as an acceptable allowance to facilitate those desires.
Humans are selfish. I am selfish. And as a result, the consequences of my actions in my habitat are real for the habitat I am in. Dr. Seuss said it best in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”.
© 2013, Steven Paulsen. 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.