Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Battle of Native vs. Invasive Plants

For some reason, I have become obsessed with weeds lately. Weird, I know. But think about it. They are amazing! Half the time they grow where nothing else can, they can spread amazingly quickly, and in the course of a summer, they can manage to outwit my weekly weeding, lawn mowing, dumping of salt and vinegar(gotta be green) and still manage to grow, thrive, flower and send hundreds of seeds out into the wild. Pretty incredible! But what makes them so special? What makes them thrive where other plants wither and die? I guess it could be that they are more suited to the environment or that they are an introduced species that does not have any natural predators. Of course, other gardeners I talk to often suggest that I should try a "native" plant to try and solve my tough gardening areas. Aren't they always tougher and therefore better? Can they stand up to the weeds?

I read this interesting article at Cold Climate Gardening about what is a "native" plant. Of course, we all know that everything is native to somewhere, just maybe not here. But what is interesting to think is that even the plants we call weeds are native plants somewhere. Do people plant them in their gardens wherever they come from? Or are they weeds there too?

Then I remembered this article I read on the Garden Rant about how some foreign plants actually seem better suited to our environment and how the local fauna is actually using them. Does that mean all invasives are bad? It's an interesting debate.

As it stands I am fascinated by weeds and, one day, I hope to post a comprehensive catalogue of those that visit my backyard. But that will have to wait for another day - I'm going to go and try to pick the last of them before winter sets in. Hey, even a lover of weeds doesn't want them in my garden!

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