Native plants are a big deal. Why? Because, thanks to the introduction of invasive plants, from grasses to trees, shrubs to flowers, our native ecosystems increasingly bear less and less resemblance to those that surrounded our forebears in the Southern Appalachians. Many of us think of kudzu, Privet or Bittersweet when we think of destructive invasive plants. Few of us consider that our lawns are composed almost entirely of imports from Europe and Asia. Nor do we realize that much of what is sold at local nurseries is invasive and should not be planted. New York state recently enacted landmark legislation to remove and ban the sale of numerous invasive plants and animals. Implicit in this judicious effort is an acknowledgement of the importance of our rich ecological heritage.
Our Mountains Are the Heart of Biodiversity
The Appalachian mountains are home to one of the highest densities of individually recognized species of plants and animals in the world, as well as many that have yet to be discovered. These species are intimately woven into our cultural heritage and even our very genetic makeup, as science has recently discovered – native plants for healing and food, grasses for forage, trees for building materials etc. In addition, native plants sustain unique ecological niches, the disruption of which creates a cascade of negative repercussions that often escape our attention until the damage is done. Tragic and irretrievable habitat destruction and species loss continues unabated as the result of the spread of invasive plants. At V&V, we believe education is the fulcrum for shifting the balance towards a renewal of our native ecosystems. We would love the opportunity to work with you and your property.
What is an Invasive Species?
According to the Federal government, an invasive species is “an alien species whose introduction does, or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health”. There are some species native to certain parts of the United States, such as American dune grass, that are considered invasive in other regions of the same continent. More often invasive vegetation has been introduced from other areas of the globe entirely. Although many plants spread away from their area of origin via transmission of seeds and spores on the wind, water or by animal hosts, human initiated import and export of exotic plants has led to a biological transfer at unprecedented speed and over previously unimaginable distances. Noted horticulture expert and author William Cullina believes, that of the approximately 730 plus North American grasses recently inventoried, a third have been introduced since European settlers arrived. He considers only climate change to be a greater threat to our native flora.
Landscaping with Native Plants
Landscaping with native plants is a unique and rewarding process. It implicitly recognizes the diversity, beauty, subtlety and, most importantly, the function of our native flora. It acknowledges their essential role in sustaining biological abundance and diversity in our region. It also attempts to diminish the role heavy-handed management techniques such as continuous irrigation and the use of herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and pesticides have in maintaining our landscapes. Native plants are to landscaping what Robert Johnson and Sara Vaughn are to modern popular music – subtle, foundational and utterly essential.
Let us work with you to create a native ecosystem, not merely a landscape. You will learn a tremendous amount, you will spend less, lower your maintenance burden and contribute a little more muscle to the fulcrum shift we believe can sustain our region’s biological diversity. Call or e-mail to find out more. We would love to discuss our ongoing experiments with native grasses, ferns and other adventures in landscaping.