I am NOT a fan of Native Plants! There I said it. I think for the most part they are ugly and look like weeds. Now, before my friends from the Native Plant Society hang me from the nearest Betula nigra (River Birch), let me say this....I understand their point of view, kind of.
Yes, I will admit that Native Plants have a use in the landscape. They tolerate our up and down temperatures. They know how to handle the droughts we sometimes have. They also provide shelter and in some cases food for the local indigenous critters. There are even a few decent looking plants. I like the majority of the trees, Oaks, Maples and such.
However, What does this look like to you?
To me it looks like a yard that has been unattended to for years. I know, there are some people that find this pretty. There are also people that think Justin Beiber is talented, but I digress.
How is this for pretty?
Looks like somebody needs to mow. This is Eupatorium fistulosum, also known as Joe-Pye Weed. With a name like that, who wouldn't want it in their yard!?
There are entire neighborhoods that are planting almost strictly native plants.
While I admit, this is a little formal for my taste, isn't this much prettier?
Okay, you want some reasons why you should plant natives? When used intelligently, native plants require less maintenance, are less expensive, and save energy. Did you know that lawnmowers are a significant source of air pollution? Lets, just for the sake of argument say this is true. Well then,lets just all stop mowing our yards. Problem solved!
Used properly, native plants require little to no extra water or fertilizer compared to most exotics. This is sounding like the lazy mans landscape solution.
Native plants have been exposed to most pests as long as they have existed, and continue to display their resistance to insects and disease in our own yards. So what do the bugs eat, each other? They need to survive too.
This is an excerpt from a Native Plant Societies newsletter down in Florida:
With historical perspective, this is an amazing development. In past centuries, when corners of this planet were yet unexplored, botanists brought horticultural oddities from hither and yon to beautify the gardens of the elite. To adorn one's garden with plant species that were foreign, rare and unusual was a mark of wealth and status. Only the leisure class who studied botany and horticulture could identify and appreciate these collections. Today, by contrast, exotic plants are no longer the exception but the rule; everyone has them, regardless of their socioeconomic standing. It is the inclusion of native species in one's garden that is now distinctive and unusual, and ironically, only those with a special interest in native plants can identify and appreciate these native collections.
If you want something really strange and unusual in your garden, go native!
I would like to disagree with that last sentence. I have growing in my yard some very unusual plants that NOBODY else in this area is growing. My variegated Chinaberry is very unusual and it is definitely NOT native....Chinaberry? Hello.
If it were not for the exotics coming into this country, we would be in some financial hardships....okay, even more than we are now. How much do you think it would cost to import Orange Juice from China instead of Florida? Citrus is native to our Asian friends.
Another example would be that PB&J you gave your kids for lunch. Do you think Peanuts are native to North America? Nope! The peanut is native to South America.
So leave my exotic plants alone and I will try and tolerate your Native Plant fetish.
For those of you that don't quite get this article, it is mostly tongue in cheek.
On a serious note, look into some native plants for your area. Everything is native to somewhere. While I admit, I do not like most native plants for my area, they can and do have their place in the landscape. Besides, I have a lot of Master Gardener friends that love their natives and will probably want to boil me in Witch Hazel after they read this. It is a native you know!