Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Land Management

I look over the Tall Flower Meadow and it is good. As my eye moves beyond the meadow and further down the utility easement, three very distinct zones of vegetation become readily apparent. There is a zone of floral abundance - my meadow, a plain green tangled thicket of wildness and a half barren dead zone.

The zone of floral abundance is a direct result of my intervention as a gardener. Nature would not do this on its own. The proof is just below the Great Lawn.

Nature did help create the meadow by providing ample raw ingredients for me to work with. As I began to untangle the wild green thicket, native and naturalized wild flowers began to appear. Wild flowers I had planted began to seed and spread when space was made for them to do so.

I keep planting. The number of native species has increased ten fold. Near natives from further afield in North America have been added. I also plant non-natives. A good number of those are the main components of my low mounding evergreen tapestry of texture and color that make up the winter under garden. I need something to get me through the five months of the barren time.

All the non-natives provide some function or interest in the larger design of the garden.

The green tangle that is the middle zone of my view of the utility easement is a low species count of five super aggressive native plants that all aim for domination.

This section has a short bloom time in June with the blackberries and a later one at the end of summer with impatiens, Clematis virginiana and New England Aster. This is nature's big box landscape of common as dirt indestructible plants. Anything else that attempts to grow here will quickly be smothered and robbed of life giving light. Even the deer find it hard to pass through this mess.

Two years after the spraying, the dead zone is starting to show some green. This is a utility easement and the utility company keeps the forest at bay with a combination of tree trimming and chemical spraying.

The last time it was sprayed someone was paying attention. They stopped a good fifty yards below my garden at the bottom of a hill and only spot sprayed the trees in the green tangle. That is why the dead zone does not come right up to the Great Lawn and why there are two very distinct zones of vegetation below the meadow. Thank you utility company for noticing something was different about this place.

In plain sight are three different approaches to land management. You could compare the dead zone to a chemically maintained lawn. The spot sprayed wild green tangle is nature's version of the big box store landscape of common as dirt indestructible shrubberies. The Tall Flower Meadow is a garden made by a gardener.

There are native plant activists out there (read the comments) who would say that my decision to use non-native plants in my garden shows I have not given any real thought to the dire circumstances of the planet and all the life we share it with, that it is selfish of me to garden for my own interests, for pretty, and to use non-native plants when so many life forms rely on native plants to complete their life cycles.

I am quite aware of all that. I have simply come to a different conclusion when all things are considered.

All things considered, it is simply better to garden. There is no need to debate native plants anymore. Plant them. Use them. There are a lot of wonderful native plants.

The proof that a garden, even with non-natives in it, is far better for life on this planet above and below the soil line is right outside my door.

I see three very different kinds of land management every single day. One is clearly superior to the others in providing the plants and habitat native plant activists say they want.

The part of the utility easement I manage is at least 500 feet long. That is as much space as the wild green tangle and the dead zone combined. A gardener made it richer, better and more alive than ever and the main motivation was to make it pretty and to make it a space suitable for human use. The bugs just got lucky.


Lola said...

So glad that the utility company saw the improvement.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is amazing that the utility company was so thoughtful. Good for them. Forget the nay sayers. You have a beautiful native garden. The bugs, birds, and animals all appreciate it as well as most humans. As long as you are happy so be it.

Christopher C. NC said...

Me too Lola. When things first started turning yellow after the spraying I was a bit worried.

Lisa I called and left a message with the utility's head maintenance man - put a red x on your map and call me back, just to be sure. He never did. I still want to talk tree trimming with him. My garden is mostly native. I won't ever be doing battle with things like Queen Anne's lace, Ox-Eye daisy and chicory. Who knows how many other naturalized species I have that the activists would turn their noses up at.

beverly said...

Actually from what I am reading I believe the extremism of the nativist movement is easing a bit. The confusion over what is 'native' (local, regional, national, etc.) plus some new studies showing almost-equivalence of some non natives vis a vis pollinators, plus the realization, as you point out, that any flowers are better than no flowers in our paved-over planet, seems to be leading to a new aesthetic.

Now lawn predominance, that's a different story........

Christopher C. NC said...

Bev lawn culture and more importantly the predominance of non-gardeners is why I say just garden. Making inroads there will get more native plants in the ground. Gardeners are not the problem. We get it. Native plants are important. Gardeners are the solution to making healthier and more dynamic habitats. That is why I get so annoyed by the activists when they berate gardeners for not being purists.

beverly said...

Agree! People are intimidated enough! Also, I go to garage sales for a hobby and the sheer number, array and overkill of products to spray on various perceived 'pests' and diseases found in these garages, is enough to make your hair curl. If the activists want to criticize something, please go for that!