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Old 02-17-2009, 11:31 AM   #31
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I think the answer to this one, unfortunately, is hard. We can't educate "big box style" any more than the big box stores can market responsible plantings for every garden. We educate locally, individually, emphasizing not only the ecological benefits of natives but the practical benefits to the gardener/homeowner. Natives are easy to grow, low-maintenance, drought/flood/heat/cold/pickyourpoison plants exactly tailored to their particular environment. We have to share that with the people around us.
Oh , the ANSWER is going to be VERY hard .

Now when we have "box stores" who every weekend offer free classes on everything from laying tile to gardening . This is done of course to sell merchandise . Scotts fertilizer and such is sold to make MONEY .

Let me take a minutefor a few old quotes ;

" All it takes for evil to succeed is for all good men to do nothing "

" Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country "

" If you do the same thing today as you did yesterday , do not expect different results "

Now when sufficent people get ANGRY enough to actually DO something then change will MAYBE come about . I think that at times anger can be a good thing counter to what mental health professionals advise .

Now how many here have contacted thier local native plant/butterfly/master gardener or whatever associations ?

Don't raise your hands all at once now .


Hmmmm , 230 some members as of this morning and I will bet that less than 10% have done so .

I challenge you all to become part of the answer .
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:14 PM   #32
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I want to thank everyone who addressed my questions about "good native plants" vs. the "not so good plants." I was overwhelmed last night when I read the replies. The collective knowlegde of this group really thunked me up side my head. Wow!

Also thanks for all the native plant links. I really appreciate that because I am still in the native plant education stage. I bookmarked all that were suggested. And thanks for the google search tips Lonediver.

Lorax, the thought provoking discussion you created with your original post is excellent.

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Old 02-18-2009, 04:45 AM   #33
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NEWisc-
Thanks for the link! So handy to have a good reference for native plants in Wisconsin. I bookmarked it.

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Old 02-18-2009, 04:48 AM   #34
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Seedguy-
Thanks for the tips!

Does your plant nursery have a website that I could check out?

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Old 02-18-2009, 08:35 AM   #35
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Oh , the ANSWER is going to be VERY hard . . .

Now how many here have contacted thier local native plant/butterfly/master gardener or whatever associations ?
Not everyone has such a thing. If I'm going to act locally, I do it person by person, one at a time, and hope to create such a group of like-minded individuals eventually. There's not even a MG group in this county, and the farmers aren't sprinkling wildflower mixes.

But I do believe that working locally is the way to go, and one advantage of a small rural community is that I can talk to individuals.

I agree that anger can be a good thing and is necessary at times. But there's also a place for soft-style kung fu.
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Old 02-18-2009, 08:46 AM   #36
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"Soft style kung fu ? " , speaking for myself , I believe that I would rather have a preference of going Hayduke !

I do applaud your efforts at thinking , trying locally . It will be a long process to change popular thought . If there is a local community paper , try writing an article for it . A lot of small local papers have small staffs and are hungry for articles of small length . Perhaps a small series .
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Old 02-18-2009, 03:14 PM   #37
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Having recently gone through landscaping our backyard with natives I can absolutely say that planting with natives is not easy. First, most of these plants are no longer commonplace. Secondly, the majority of nurseries don't carry that wide of a variety of natives if any at all. I have driven distances of up to 300 miles to find a specific plant that I wanted. Not only do we need to educate others on natives, but somehow we need to get natives into our nurseries. We need natives to be easily accessible. If the big box stores won't sell our natives, the majority of the public won't be planting natives. To be honest it was very frustrating trying to round up the plants I was wanting. If I were not such an obstinate individual when I set my mind to something I would have easily given up.

The second part of the equation was the available information. Thank god I don't mind doing research on the internet. I can't begin to count the numerous hours I spent online trying to learn what our natives were. Native plant sites are few and far between. Then you have to deal with soil type and how much water will the area get or not get. That is a lot for someone who just wants a pretty garden out back. The average homeowner can't afford nor would they be willing to devote so much time to research.

If we want a sustainable native environment to return to all the nooks and crannies in our country then we have to make natives and the information for natives as easily accessible as that bag of wildflower mix on the shelf at Lowe's, Home Depot, or Walmart. We need to make sure that companies understand that buying american is not just about manufactured products, but naturally grown products as well. As long as planting natives remains out of the grasp of the average homeowner so will our native plants.

I don't know how we can go about doing this. Maybe I can get the native plant society to come talk to our new housing development, but that is not going to change the lack of information available for natives, nor the available resources for purchase. If natives are going to have a chance for survival at all we have to get them mainstreamed. We have to get them in our local stores and nurseries. An obscure website, a little hidden nursery down a dirt road are not the answers.
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Old 02-18-2009, 08:37 PM   #38
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MaggyNoLia - well stated.

Your average homeowner can run to Home Depot, return home to his shovel, and in a few hours have an attractive garden full of nice-sized blooming or foliage non-native plants.

Or, he can pour over the internet, decide upon suitable natives for his environment, find a seller, order seeds or bare-root plants costing more (including shipping) than Home Depot's non-native plants, receive his twigs, roots, or seeds a week/months later, plant his twigs, roots, or seeds, and eventually (6 months to several years later) have an attractive garden. Or he can spend big bucks for potted, well grown natives & costly shipping, if he can find them.

You have to be committed to native gardening, to do it at all. To your average homeowner, it probably sounds insane.
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Old 02-18-2009, 09:12 PM   #39
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Lonediver, the local paper is a good idea. Gene would be thrilled to run a series, especially if he gets it for free.

Such a series could go to larger papers, too. That's getting beyond local, but the local paper isn't AP syndicated; others in neighboring counties are (two that I can think of). Hmmm.

If you can create a demand, then the mainstream nurseries will carry more natives.
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Old 02-20-2009, 09:43 PM   #40
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So many thoughtful replies. You will all going be a tough act to follow since so many of you have summed up how I feel about all of this.

I’d like you all to consider the following:
Quote:
No plant is an island: each exists in a context and community of trees and toads, rocks and rotifers, birds and bugs. Like human communities, this network of individual needs is supported by complex communication and mutualisms that we hardly understand.
-William Cullina

As a gardener who long ago began to understand and appreciate the value of native plants, I can not help but remember feeling the frustration of trying to figure out what was in those shakers cans or if nurseries were selling species disguised as natives trying to capitalize on the growing number of gardeners like me out there who preferred to plant natives. I, like transplant, have gotten zapped more times than I care to admit because a nursery tagged a plant with a common name or the genus and the cultivar name without the epithet or used an old synonym or misspelled the scientific name. So many of us aren't familiar with the scientific names of many plants and even those who are could not possibly be familiar with all the species that are native to where we garden. I remember knowing enough to not be fooled by a nursery tossing in the word American, wildflower, or native yet I never went shopping armed with my field guides let alone internet access. We didn’t have blackberries back when I started.

Once our awareness begins to be heightened, we begin realizing we’re being duped. Many gardeners are quoted as feeling like the “great unwashed” once they begin to learn more about invasive species. I guess that would sum up how I felt many years ago.

Leslie, the answer to your question is best answered by a very wise man who long ago shared the following with me, “Native plants are a distinct group because they are the only group of plants that have a positive impact on their local ecosystem no matter where that ecosystem is located. Not negative, not neutral, but a positive impact. No other group of plants can make that claim. It's a much more meaningful claim than the "because I like them" or "because they are pretty" or "because they grow well in my garden" rationale given so frequently for wildflower as well as other non-native and naturalized species.”

BooBooBearBecky, your question was going to be a little bit tougher for me because I thought I was going to have to go to the USDA site and begin tracking down all the plants that would be appropriate for your specific ecoregion but NEWisc found the ultimate tool in that you can search based on your county right from the site he gave you a link to:
http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/Countysearch.html

American Meadows is another classic example of a company selling mixes laced with weeds and invasive species but probably all commercially available mixes at Lowes, Menards, Home Depot, WalMart, K-Mart and just about every other chain store out there contain garbage plants that will have you, me, and every natural areas land volunteer weeding our brains out until the day we die.

If we really want to plant wildflowers that will not become a problem for us and everyone who lives near us, best to create our own mixes by buying individual packs of seeds from reputable local native plant nurseries. This way we do not choke ourselves, anyone else, or any natural areas out by cheap garbage introduced filler plants. Besides which, most of those mixes don't include any native grasses. Many native wildflowers are supported by grasses. Nothing to support them and they fall over. Flopped plants blooming on the ground aren't seen or appreciated by anyone.

If we want our yards to be filled to the brim with plants we can see growing in cracks of sidewalks, along the side of the road, in ditches, in vacant lots, and in other waste areas... then it’s great to buy their mixes with cheap filler seed. If we want to see plants that are found in natural prairies, meadows, savannas, and woodlands then we need to make our own mixes or buy from reputable local native plant nurseries that aren't taking us and our tax dollar to the cleaners!

I'd like everyone to consider the following:
Quote:
In North America, we share vital natural resources, including air, oceans and rivers, mountains and forests. Together, these natural resources are the basis of a rich network of ecosystems, which sustain our livelihoods and well-being. If they are to continue being a source of future life and prosperity, these resources must be protected. This stewardship of the North American environment is a responsibility shared by Canada, Mexico and the United States.

What it boils down to for me is that we can not keep treating our planet as if it is a chemistry beaker. We're doing an experiment in the beaker, and we don't really know what the result is going to be. Big problem- the earth is our only beaker.
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