American Painted Lady Butterfly on Monardella antonina,
Photo by Las Pilitas Nursery
Recently, I wrote about one community I visited that was full of manicured lawns and pretty roses but devoid of life … it was missing bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The landscaping had no native plants to welcome them. Luckily there are many native plants that make pretty additions to the garden with blooms that attract pollinators.
There’s nothing like watching the slow dance of butterflies above your flower blossoms from your garden bench!
All across the country, development has gobbled up the earth, covering meadows & prairies, putting roads through our forests, polluting our streams. Habitat has been lost, and wildlife has had to make do with less and less space to live, roam and breed. So, what can we do?
The one thing I know we can do is to plant wild plants. Native plants are those wild plants that lived in a place before the developers came in with their bulldozers. If you look across your street and see a meadow, envision that meadow on your block, because that’s most likely what the land looked like where your house & garden sit now. In that meadow are the plants that are your native plants. If you live near a forest, the plants you find there are your native plants. Or, you might live in an area with prairies. Planting the wild plants that are native to your particular area is a way to restore the land. One garden at a time, we can build an ecosystem.
One native plant by itself is obviously not an ecosystem. But it can be a start. In Doug Tallamy’s wonderful book, “Bringing Nature Home”, he explains so well why native plants matter to wildlife. Some birds and insects are totally dependent on specific native plants for their food--- they are called “specialists” and cannot survive without specific plants. This may seem like “poor planning” on their part. But, Nature is all about balance. Everything that exists is interdependent. There are supposed to be plants to feed the animals, just as there are plants to feed us. Nature left us with wild, edible plants, as well as plants to act as medicine.
It is, in my view, not right to have taken so much of the land away from the creatures that share the earth with us. Instead, we should be living alongside our animal friends; they are our neighbors. By letting a garden “go wild,” we are inviting friends to visit, we are “Living With Nature.”
For me, that’s where I want to be.