So, why Native plants only? It is the only way to help steward our inclusion in a landscape, creating a sense of place. Simply, it allows our inclusion in a landscape to be functional without detriment to every other player in or from that landscape. Humans need not feel bad about having desires, just bad about perpetuating ignorance as an acceptable allowance to facilitate those desires.

Humans are selfish. I am selfish. And as a result, the consequences of my actions in my habitat are real for the habitat I am in. Dr. Seuss said it best in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not”.

...I actually do believe that, in an ideal world, every residential and managed landscape would contain some amount of plants for food, vast amounts of native plants thriving in robust ecosystems all around the buildings (or even on them), and no other plants. So. There. I’ve said it. That’s my ideal, and I’m sticking to it.

Are you now asking, “But how could this ever work? What about my daffodils? My lilacs, dahlias, iris and sedum? What about my clients’ need for season-long color and pest-free foliage?” In answer I can only say that, for me, achieving my ideal involves giving highest priority to the fact that plants have a much more important purpose than to entertain and serve humans.

Plants support all life on the planet. They are the foundation of complex food webs everywhere, growing in intricate relationships of support and competition with other organisms. Most of the time we don’t comprehend these interactions, even when they’re right in front of us. Do we know which plants are doing what, for whom, and why, and what will happen if they’re not there? Essentially no, we don’t. Do we know that non-native plants are ecologically equivalent to natives? On the contrary, we know that usually they are not. So if we select plants primarily to satisfy our many human-centered goals, we are ignoring plants’ essential role on Earth.

Planning to Achieve the Ideal

Living a native-plant ideal, in contrast to the standard gardening approach, involves taking myself out of the center of the picture. Not out of the picture entirely, no. Just out of the center. 

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