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« $20 makes for a pricy perennial | Main | A field full of Black-eyed Susans »

July 11, 2014


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You're a brave man, Graham, to risk the wrath of the native-only crowd with such a review. Unbiased science doesn't provide the simple, clear-cut "evidence" that unambiguously tells people what's OK and what's not OK to plant. If some non-natives are OK, then that opens the floodgates for the most invasive species, and people have no ability to discern the difference. It's best if the experts paint a picture of ecological disaster from planting non-natives -- that way, no one will be confused as to what is the one right thing to do, for everyone living in every region.

Graham Rice

Thank you, Beth. You may remember that I stirred up the nothing-but-natives people with another book review a few years back (

But it's really Ken Thompson who risks the wrath of the anti-alien people by writing the book in the first place! I urge you to read it and tell me what you think. I'm a great believer in science and, intuition guided by science, but the whole issue is drowning in hearsay and opinion presented as fact.

Ina Warren

Thank you, Graham for another illuminating post. It was your short article from years ago (that I found on Google) - Don't Tell Me Not to Plant Buddleja, that gave me courage to get right back in the face of the native plant purists.

Of course native plants are great and critical for providing foliar food for lep larvae, and by extension, food for little songbirds and the rest of the food web. But it was, in particular, their bashing of Buddleja - (especially the new sterile seedless cultivars) and the ceaseless guilting/humiliating gardeners until they ripped them out of their gardens that alerted me that the purists are doing as much damage as they are good - if not more so.

Their greatest error, imho, is self-promotion that THEY can fix the world with their plan. I'm guessing they need the other few million of us combination gardeners to save said world…

Even their guru Dr Doug Tallamy does not promote 100% native plantings and says in his audio interview with his Timber Press publisher that the biggest bang for the biodiversity buck is through the planting of native trees; that adding colorful ornamentals flowers and shrubs are fine. But that sane message gets lost in the blog entries of the fervent native purists. One nursery did a meme showing Buddleja being as useless to pollinators as a yard of cement. What kind of talk is that? Crazy talk. - Ina.

Looking forward to reading this based on your review.

Graham Rice

Thank you, Ina, for your thoughtful remarks. A garden is, after all, a garden - not a restoration or re-creation of a wild habitat - so those who insist that we do not plant garden plants in our gardens are completely missing the point.

More effective would be to campaign to reduce the number of deer in our forests to pre-colonial levels - a dramatic reduction in deer numbers would make a huge contribution towards protecting our native flora and reduce the impact of invasive plants that move in once the natives are eaten.

And here's a link to my blog post entitled "Don't tell me not to grow buddleja" from back in 2008

T. P. O'Rourke

This is crazy. Just one look at a swamp covered in acres of purple loosestrife it's obvious that it's pushed out all the natives. Open your eyes and take a look around you, invasives are everywhere and native plants are vanishing.

Graham Rice

Not so fast... It turns out that purple loosestrife is not such a menace after all. More in a post here soon.

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