Latest obsession, because I always have one: Native plants!
I just finished Nancy Lawson’s book The Humane Gardener and have felt the full error of my amateurish ways. I have planted a handful of native southeastern plants, mostly by accident, but I am so ready to focus on them and eschew the imported, exotic interlopers. (Gardening with native plants makes you sound really xenophobic really fast.)
There are so many plants that gardeners hold up as a standard of aesthetic beauty that are non-native and often invasive — and offer zero benefits to the insects, birds and mammals that cohabitate with us. I was also reminded, by Lawson, of how arbitrary the definition of a “weed” is. Unless it really is an invasive non-native plant, “weeds” generally serve useful purposes in your local ecosystem. I am more inclined to leave (some of) them, having been more informed of what “weeds” actually belong in Virginia (such as that wild violet that I keep ripping up).
I found Lawson’s book so heartening, because it made me realize that my little yard is actually my most powerful weapon against the grave tide of climate change. I can’t do anything about the Paris Accord. I can’t do anything to persuade China or the United States or India to reduce their carbon emissions. But I can garden for my native ecosystem, and in this way, boost a little bit of the earth that falls under my purview.
A few photos of the native plants that we have thus far:
Natives planted but still growing: Purple coneflower, more spiderwort volunteers, pokeberry (which I previously ripped out but will now allow in select areas, having been informed of its usefulness to Virginia wildlife).
Next garden ambition: To turn the area that was formerly a chicken run in the backyard into a native wildflower mini-meadow, to attract lots of pollinators and let things grow a bit wild and unchecked.
All summer long, I am happiest when I am eating an unadvisedly large quantity of cherries.
“I write to find out what I think about something.” — Anne Carson, quoted in her Art of Poetry interview, Paris Review
4 thoughts on “Plants doing as they please”
[…] read less in the spring than in other seasons, mainly because I start obsessively monitoring my garden, but I still got through an enjoyable assortment this year. Here are my favorites from the past few […]
Hi Abby, Your quote at the end of the post made me think that you’d be interested to hear that our Joel, Sam’s roommate/housemate for four years at Carolina, will be starting a 6 month editorial internship at the Paris Review on July 5th. Moving to NYC and then getting married in August. Big, exciting life changes!
[…] and sad. (I start feeling like John B. McLemore, I really do.) I am inspired to keep planting native plants and do my small part where I can, walking to work and being less trash-y, but I do feel a profound […]
There’s a lot to be said for weeds, especially of the flowering kind….