Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Why Native? Here's why
Some just prefer the aesthetics of native plants. Little brush strokes of purple from native Redbud flowering, can be seen though our Pennsylvania woodlands right now. Successful landscapes often draw inspiration from nature. A beautifully fragrant and graceful flowering Clethra alnifolia fits much better in a wooded landscape as compared to a Hydrangea paniculata sporting 12 inch blooms. In some ways, we’ve bred our plants to be showy to the point of gaudy.
But it seems protecting nature, both by avoiding chemicals and providing food and shelter to wildlife, is igniting passion right now and convincing folks that gardening with native plants is crucial for our ecosystem.
From the soil, to the birds, to the insects, “Nature contains incredible layers of relationship.” Said Jan Getgood, of Meadowood Nursery, an all-native plant nursery near Hummelstown, PA.
Getgood says as we’ve re-arranged mother nature in our developed areas by introducing non-native species, we’ve impacted the biodiversity that has historically relied on native species.
Boiled down, certain insects only feed on certain plants. Birds for instance, search for certain insects; often in spring, caterpillars. Native oak trees, for example, support the most butterfly and moth species, over 500, who lay their eggs in oaks. Those eggs become caterpillars and feed the majority of migrating birds.
Birds need the protein provided by insects to feed their young. While birds gain sustenance from seeds and berries, that’s not enough to support their offspring.