What we plant in our landscapes determines what can live in our landscapes... By favoring productive species, we can create life, and by using nonnative plants, we can prevent it.” Douglas W. Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants
The following is based on the book (cited above) by Douglas W. Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware. It gives us something to consider in selecting garden plants.
Plants are biological miracles in that they create nourishment that is the basis for all life on earth. They also produce oxygen, build the soil and hold it in place, thus preventing erosion and floods. They attract insects that attract birds, thereby creating a healthy life cycle.
Unfortunately, most gardeners value plants for what they look like rather than their ability to support our local ecosystems. As a result, many choose exotic plants from all over the world rather than local native and adapted varieties. Plants have chemical defenses in their tissues that repel insects that have not adapted to “their taste,” which can take literally centuries. Sounds great and would seem to make gardening easier. However, fewer insects attracts fewer birds to a garden, and with a lesser food supply, bird populations in North America have declined drastically in the past 40 years.
The list of plants that insects seem to avoid includes ornamental plants such as Bradford pear, Japanese barberries, porcelain berries, golden rain tree, crepe myrtles, privets, bush honeysuckle and other foreign ornamentals.
This all may seem confusing, but growing plants that have always been in our local gardens will attract insects that provide a plentiful food supply for birds.
Garden tips and other comments:
If you grew wildflowers this spring, wait until the plants begin to turn brown to collect seeds for next year. Plant your harvested seeds in October.
Coleus can be planted now and are an easy way to have color in the garden, especially in shaded areas. There are many varieties to choose from, and whether planted in pots or in the ground keep watch to be sure they do not dry out.
Prolong the life of garden tools and prevent the spread of disease among plants by cleaning them of dirt and grime after use, and sanitize them with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.
Garden Note: The seed is hope, the flower joy.