This year for some reason we have been involved in multiple projects were we were asked to install native plants. I have a feeling this comes from the sustainability (Green agenda) that has developed throughout the country in the last few years so I want to discuss what I have learned lately about native plants.
When a client asks me to design a landscape the first thing that comes to my mind is not native plants. When I went to college I took many hours of plant identification, learning the Latin and common names, cross referencing them with all of the other names that folks tend to call them but I don’t remember getting much information on “Native” of course these are different times and just the thought of a native plant sounds pretty good to some but is there really a difference?
When I design a landscape I try to listen to the customer and find out what they want. They usually want a lot of variety and color, I do this by using a variety of combinations of evergreen perennials, deciduous seasonal blooming shrubs, evergreen and deciduous trees, annuals and bi-annuals.
The problem with the native plants is that they just don’t have the versatility of color and texture that most folks want. Most of the blooms on native plants are white and very small, most plants foliage is small and it takes a lot of plants to fill areas that normally would have a lot of character and depth.
For the most part I have observed that the native plants are just kind of unattractive and useless in most landscape applications, that’s not to say that they don’t have their uses I like them on stream banks and in native forest areas or woodlands type of applications, but I’m sorry I really don’t care for some of them in the everyday landscape application.
On another note what really is the difference in native plants verses non native?
Honestly aren’t they all Gods living creation, they all need water, nutrients, need to be trimmed and manicured, maintained and loved on and with a little TLC any plant will grow and survive, so I really don’t understand from a horticultural view the difference in the plants.
I also don’t buy into the theory that some ornamental plants will grow over other plants and that birds like the native plants better, I mean what about all of the un wanted grasses that end up in your lawn is this because of the birds or the wind or?.......well I think you see where this is going it’s pretty much the way mother nature created it.
You know I think that you could make up anything you want about what makes a person feel good, about a ‘slogan’ or, sounds politically correct , well here I go getting poloticky so let’s just end it here.
If you want to try the native plant thing there are some nice varieties of plants, I love and use tons of Kinnikinnick, I like Nutka Rose, Ribes Sanquenium, Oregon Grape, Cornus, there’s lots of others just don’t forsake the old mainstays like Viburnums, Euonymus, Azalea, Nandina and many others.
They are popular because they work, the folks love them, its what’s worked in the landscape for many years.....And what’s wrong with that?