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They can’t all be natives

04/09/2011 in gardening, Spring Garden

White Japanese azalea

white azalea
Rhododendron japonicum

Japanese kerria

japanese kerria
kerria japonica

Japanese roof iris

roof iris
Iris tectorum

Anyone that’s ever had to struggle against Japanese honeysuckle, Chinese wisteria, or Vinca minor, could get the idea that imported plants shouldn’t be planted, that they are likely to escape and over-run the city like Godzilla, wreaking havoc…

Many people do choose to avoid planting anything but natives, and my hat is off to them… it’s a good choice…
I look for a balance in my gardening, if it’s pretty, non-invasive, suited to the site, and doesn’t require much effort on my part, it’s going to get planted…

There are native aggressors… I recently posted about spiderwort which tends toward the seedy, and will fill in a suitable niche… and there are the wood violets, Rhode Island’s state flower, which will completely over-run a shaded flowerbed in a couple of years due to the prolific seeds… Much worse in a southern garden are the Physostegia virginiana, AKA “obediant plant” which will fill in a bed with the stolons, much the same as bermuda grass… Bad stuff, Maynard….

Remember that poison ivy is a native plant, as are the greenbriars Smilax spp. which will tear the clothes off your back in a short walk through a southern forest … and the deer and birds keep bringing the seeds to our gardens…

Ok… native doesn’t automatically make it good, and imported doesn’t automatically rule it out, but… it’s always important to keep an eye on the plant… I had a euphorbia show up in a garden last year that turned into a project getting back out… due to those stolons, and a mugwort Artemisia vulgaris again stolons, both are imports, that are widely available in the nursery industry and should come with huge warning label, like mint does…

Bearded Iris

bearded iris
iris germanica
the so-called German iris… It’s important to plant lots of different iris varieties, it extends the iris season…

Calanthe orchid


Another import from the orient… Calanthe orchids look nice in a shaded garden, and play well with others…

arisaema sikokianum

arisaema sikokianum
Kin to the native jack in the pulpit, the Oriental arisaemas put on a much showier display…

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2 responses to They can’t all be natives

  1. Kat said on 04/09/2011

    Great post! I agree and I too strive to find balance in my garden. There are many natives that I love, but would become bored rather quickly if that was all I was planting. I’ve learned the hard way with invasive plants too. I’m still chopping out that darn Vinca minor and pulling up Oenothera speciosa. So I’m glad there is more conversations going on about their destructive behaviors.

  2. stone said on 04/09/2011

    Thanks Kat…
    Oenothera speciosa, AKA Showy primrose is a native… like Physostegia… Purdy, purdy, but those stolons… nother great plant for the container garden…on the patio, but don’t let it ne-where near the beds….

    Or plant it out in the lawn… or grassy meadow.

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