The Eastern United States is an entirely different native ecosystem from California. Duh.
The Central Prairies are different too. Oh yeah. And how about the Everglades ? The desert Southwest ?
We live in a vast country with vastly different native plants, yet sometimes when we hear about the importance of gardening with native plants, we somehow think any “native plant” we see in a catalog or book is going to work in the native plant garden we want for ourselves.
I think most of our readers here at KapliPRO understand the concept of “native here”. All plants are native somewhere, so before selecting native plants for your garden, try to understand your native ecosystem.
My week in Virginia has only reinforced my wonder of the Eastern Deciduous Forest. The grandeur of the trees gives incredible strength to the garden, and since they are deciduous in winter, the spring woodland ephemerals are at their peak just as the leaves break out.
I have lectured often about the beauty of California native plants in the garden, but for a recent presentation at the Virginia Living Museum I found myself struggling to find photos that fit my preconceived idea of previous lectures.
Only after I got here and walked in the spring woods around my sister’s garden did I realize all I really needed to do was show the pictures. The audience will get it. I have seen beautiful native plant gardens in the East and almost ALL of them are in the forest. Even the exceptions, some marvelous meadow gardens, are best understood as gaps in the forest, as ecosystems in transition.
Just show the photos. Tell the audience these are native plants. Explain these gardens are the easiest to grow since the plants are pre-adapted and the earth will welcome them readily. Explain these are still gardens. They must be tended and weeded.
A clever gardener put these plants together and cared for them. But caring for gardens is what gardeners do, and native plant gardens can be beautiful when we apply some basic garden design principles, choose plants that like each other, and take care of them.
I can’t wait to photograph some more.