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Old 03-11-2010, 04:04 PM   #1
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Default Where do you fall on the "native plant gardener" scale?

This has been on my mind for awhile. I know there are gardeners of all sorts on this forum and it may be a touchy subject but if you had to honestly give yourself a score from 1 to 10, 1 being I like to plant any species or cultivar that is native to the country I live in, to 10 being I only will plant natives of local genotype of seeds wild collected within 10 miles of my location, where would you fall on that scale?

For example, Wild Ones advocates planting local genotypes only. However I have found articles on their website that contradicts that directive. I would put their philosophy anyway at a 10, maybe a 9 in practice. Meanwhile big box stores that sell "natives" that are mostly cultivars of natives like Echinacea purpurea, probably cloned or tissue cultured would be about a 2 or 3 depending if E. purpurea is native to your area.

Purchasing the pure species E. purpurea from a mail-order company in another part of the country but is native to your area might warrant a 7 or 8.

Take into consideration that I am talking about a small personal garden, not a restoration or large acreage. In that case I think all of us would go with a 10 if it were at all possible.

I've always been a moderate person, never a real extremist but more of a realist. I do have some plants of local genotype, including the Tennessee coneflower that are special to me, and a lot of plants purchased at a local native plant nursery, but I also have some plants I've ordered online from out of state prairie plant nurseries and other general nurseries. I do question how "native" I need to be. My head says "aim for a 10" but in reality I know I'll never get there.

I'd guess I'm about a 6 or 7. I'm the Avis of gardeners. I try harder.

So 'fess up, how 'bout y'all?
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Old 03-11-2010, 04:18 PM   #2
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This has been on my mind for awhile. I know there are gardeners of all sorts on this forum and it may be a touchy subject but if you had to honestly give yourself a score from 1 to 10, 1 being I like to plant any species or cultivar that is native to the country I live in, to 10 being I only will plant natives of local genotype of seeds wild collected within 10 miles of my location, where would you fall on that scale?...

...I've always been a moderate person, never a real extremist but more of a realist. I do have some plants of local genotype, including the Tennessee coneflower that are special to me, and a lot of plants purchased at a local native plant nursery, but I also have some plants I've ordered online from out of state prairie plant nurseries and other general nurseries. I do question how "native" I need to be. My head says "aim for a 10" but in reality I know I'll never get there.

I'd guess I'm about a 6 or 7. I'm the Avis of gardeners. I try harder.

So 'fess up, how 'bout y'all?

Great thread topic, linrose!

You really have me thinking. At first I was thinking I'm an 8 or 9...in my mind I know I'd like to be a 10 (even though I don't like to be an extremist, sometimes I do lean more to purist in my attitude--for example, when I was interested in bonsai, I felt more affinity to the purist attitudes, but never went so far as to only rip the limbs from a tree to simulate a storm--I would cut them with pruners for the look I was trying to achieve.)

I'm going to call myself an 8...but I don't know how accurate that is!
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Old 03-11-2010, 04:26 PM   #3
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Our trees and flowers came with the house. The wife tinkers with a vegetable garden. I'd say we're currently a 2 motivated to strive for 10.
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Old 03-11-2010, 04:28 PM   #4
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I would have to put myself at about an 7 for the following reasons:
1- I have only purchased local ecotype plants (within 50 miles) but..
2- I have done some rescues and the genotype is unknown to me and
3- I left exising foundation plantings in that are not even native.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:27 PM   #5
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Our trees and flowers came with the house. The wife tinkers with a vegetable garden...
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...I left exising foundation plantings in that are not even native.
Hmm... I definitely have a LOT of non-natives (and several invasives) that came with the house. I too have a vegetable garden. ... I plan to, eventually, replace them with natives...will I ever get rid of everything? At this point it is hard to imagine...but that *is* the goal.

I'm not rating myself by what I inherited from the previous home owner, but what I plan to do with it all.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:36 PM   #6
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Awesome response already, cool! I'm glad to hear some real honesty out there.

dapjwy, I like your differentiation between "extremist" and "purist". I'm going to have to think on that awhile. WG Admin, way brave to admit to a 2, but I see you're motivated, who would'nt be in this fine company? gnomenative, I'd put you above a 7, more like an 8 or 9. Perhaps even an 11 given you've done rescues and that puts you above and beyond the call, foundation plantings aside. I have Japanese maples in my foundation planting when we bought the place. Would it be right to cut them down just because they are not native? I don't think so.

OOH, can't wait for more responses!
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:44 PM   #7
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I'm not rating myself by what I inherited from the previous home owner, but what I plan to do with it all.
Oh yes, that is a given. We all have inherited someone else's property and so must become the new stewards. Sometimes it takes awhile to undo what has already been done and there are priorities.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:00 PM   #8
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Awesome response already, cool! I'm glad to hear some real honesty out there.

dapjwy, I like your differentiation between "extremist" and "purist". I'm going to have to think on that awhile. WG Admin, way brave to admit to a 2, but I see you're motivated, who would'nt be in this fine company? gnomenative, I'd put you above a 7, more like an 8 or 9. Perhaps even an 11 given you've done rescues and that puts you above and beyond the call, foundation plantings aside. I have Japanese maples in my foundation planting when we bought the place. Would it be right to cut them down just because they are not native? I don't think so.

OOH, can't wait for more responses!
linrose, let me know what you come up with after thinking on that for a bit. I'd like to believe there is some kind of a difference between a purist and extremist.

The funny thing is, on another thread a while back, I found myself feeling a bit defensive because I realized that I was not doing things "the right way". My main concern was that I'd brought plants from across the state to where I'm living now. They are native throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and, in some cases, beyond--however, they are not the local genotype. This got me thinking about how "extreme" I was going to take this. Based on those posts (that were getting us off topic), I started another thread to discuss local genotype, provenance, and the like; I think your approach is more accessible to discussing this topic. Thanks for starting it.

WG Admin...I'm not sure you should label yourself a 2 based on what you inherited by the previous home owner.

One issue actually is a Japanese maple that was planted by a previous owner--I really DO want to take it out. I'm thinking of posting it on Craigslist to have someone dig it up--but, I'd rather not encourage others to use non-natives.


<crossing my fingers> I hope I don't have to change my rating!
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:31 PM   #9
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I will rank myself a 5. My goal is 50% food plants & the remainder native ornamental plants.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:49 PM   #10
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I think I fall somewhere in the middle, as I'm still being educated about native plants and invasive plants.

I am lucky in the fact that our property and the property around us is undeveloped. Our woodlands are filled with mature oaks, and plenty of healthy understory growth. There seems to be plenty to support a variety of wildlife. I am always amazed at the symbiotic relationship of the life forms in our woodlands, both plants and critters.

My purchased plants come from a local nursery that sells native plants. I don't mail order plants very often, but I do order seeds from places like Prairie Moon.

I grow a vegetable garden which is a must for us because the fresh produce prices in our region are quite high. That and fresh produce from our gardens tastes so much better and I believe is much healthier for us.

I've also planted some fruit trees hardy for our zone and lean on the side of edible gardening....strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes & currants. I guess these can't really be called native plants, but one has to eat right? Don't worry, the forest creatures get their share too.

My bee population increased exponentially last summer with my many blooming native plants that have reached maturity. That made me really happy. And I saw my first monarch since I moved here. I must be heading in the right direction.

I spent several months this winter examining plant lists for our county to determine what native plantings should be in our woods, but are not. My goal here is to do plantings of endangered species and species of concern that are on the alert list. All the plants support wildlife, birds, bees, butterfiles and other beneficial insects This is really important to me.

I've attached a PDF document that might of interest to those in Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin's Endangered and Threatened Forest Species and Species of Concern"

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File Type: pdf Wisconsin Endangered Forest Species.pdf (185.6 KB, 7 views)
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