Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Near Natives

Many of the plants in Zone 2 have been planted in the last two years.

Earlier observations revealed that the exotic African daisy that previously filled all of the front planter was home only to exotic pests–brown garden snails, common pill bugs, gray slugs and Argentine ants. The few native spiders and insects were found primarily on the few native plants.

So I began gradually replacing the African daisy with native flowering shrubs and ground covers.

But here’s the rub: Now, as I am identifying each of these new plants with their full scientific name, I am beginning to grumble. Yarrow is a native plant, but the yarrow, blooming in bursts of yellow in this photo, is a Mediterranean subspecies not the native.

Are insects visiting these heady blooms? Yes. But it isn’t really a California native.

The Santa Barbara daisy growing in two small clumps is flowering and providing habitat for a corner spider. But this ground cover is native to Mexico. Once again, close but California native.

Am I going to rip them out? No. I’m accepting them as near natives.

The Heuchera and the Ceanothus are hybrids, natives with a twist of vigor. They are growing and doing well.

Going Native with your landscaping can be a challenge. Several times I have become disgruntled with the goal because it seemed so daunting. Strict native plants from specialty native plant foundations are expense and frequently less than half survive. Recently, I’d become encouraged because the “natives” had become easier to locate, less expensive and more successful in the garden. Now? Well? I’m a little disheartened, but the hybrids are doing well.

When I total up the data for Zone 2 and 3, the hillside planter, we will see if the “native” plants are making a difference.

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