There Are Native Plants, And Then There Are Native Native Plants   Leave a comment

Okay, the Sacramento Valley California Native Plant Society fall plant sale is coming up September 24-25, and it’ll soon be time for me to get that native plant garden in the ground to replace the outer third of our lawn (aka the dead third). I have a grand plan that I’ve been developing all summer and a great plant list. Oh, wait a minute, I have done NOTHING. So instead it’s crunch time to develop a plant list, and I think I’m going to do the “wing-it” landscaping design strategy.

The hang-up on this yard project is the fact that I’m picky (I know, shocking). I don’t just want plants native to the US, or native to California, but plants native to right where I live! It’s a genetic diversity thing. Plan communities are local communities. Plants within a given area are different genetically than even the same species of plants living in a different area because they adapt to their local climate. And when selecting specific plants, if it is native to the specific place where the garden is located, accounting for the various microclimates even on a small lot, it will likely survive and thrive with less work/inputs. Unfortunately, the only way to get local cultivars is to propagate cuttings or seeds collected locally. I know I’m certainly not going to do that, and I’m assuming most people feel the same. Plus there may be legal issues with collecting from wild plants. The next best thing is a local native plant nursery that propagates locally collected cuttings and seeds. Fortunately, in Sacramento we have Elderberry Farms Native Plant Nursery, a project of the Sacramento Valley CNPS. I think that most native plant nurseries probably have a mix of local natives and broader-area natives.

You do have to be smart when it comes to a native plant list, though, and check what their native ecosystem is. This is especially true in the west where we have big states that have many different ecosystems. A plant native to shady mountain forests isn’t going to thrive in an open desert garden, at least not without a lot of water. So my plant list will be developed first from the list of plants found at Mather Field, then from a broader central valley list, then from anywhere in the state. And there will be at least a few non-natives that will probably find their way in, especially since I have a 5-gallon bucket of paperwhites that need to go somewhere!

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Posted September 15, 2011 by mayakey in environment, gardening

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