Right now the garden is awash in blossoms originating in Turkey; at least as far as I remember from my reading, tulips and narcissus from Central Asia, cultivated in Europe and now part of a thriving garden industry, making themselves comfortable in my northern New York garden. In the latest issue of the National Wildlife Federation magazine is an article about using native plants. It says that non-native plants can change the soil chemistry, and make things harder for local plants and soil life. *sigh* Three of my staple garden plants are narcissus, peonies, and Daylilies. None of them native. Daffodils start off the year in April and May. Peonies flower in June and Daylilies dominate in July and early August. No, I don’t plan to dig these all up and plant natives exclusively. But I will probably limit new plants to natives from here on out. I plan to visit a native-plant nursery in Fort Ann, New York as soon as I get the chance. It’s called fiddlehead Creek and the website is fiddleheadcreek.com. This is the back yard on April 28.
What I meant about being part of a bigger history is that what I plant and how I garden is part of national and even global trends. I guess that should be obvious, but somehow I used to think of gardening as a private pastime, outside of politics and worldly concerns, a personal hobby. Scientists, environmentalists and writers like Doug Tallamy in his Bringing Nature Home have changed that attitude. Tallamy points out that what we do in our gardens impacts songbirds, insects, pollinators, amphibians, etc. I can’t go back to blissful ignorance, after that. And of course knowing what’s a native and what’s not is not easy. As I have mentioned in previous posts, some non-natives have naturalized and act like they’ve always been here! It will take patient study to learn this new information about the garden plants: flower catalogs tell us the scientific name, sunlight requirements, soil requirements, zones, height and so on, but often do not tell us native, non-native, invasive, and so on. The solomon’s seal in the photo above, I believe I am safe in saying, is a native. But this lovely little yellow primrose, which I just checked on, turns out to be native of Turkey.I promised a report on the Cooperative Extension Workshop, and I’ll do that soon.