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Plants are the basis of all life on the planet. In an increasingly paved over society the importance of stable, balanced ecosystems become all the more important. Native plants in particular play an integral role in achieving a healthy community. For millions of years plants and animals evolved to coexist with each other and they created a diverse, complex web of life that cannot easily be replicated. Humans, in recent history, have played a fairly destructive role in that web of life and therefore it is our responsibility to do what we can to mend it.
So why are Native plants so important in this process? Whether the discussion is climate change, habitat fragmentation, extinction of species, flooding, drought, erosion, destruction of soil quality among countless other issues facing us, Native plants can help.
Plants in any particular region have coevolved with specific animal life. Insects, predominantly, are dependent on very specific plants for their survival. If those plants are not available, those insects cannot survive. And if those insects are not available, the birds and mammals that feed on them cannot survive. And if those birds and mammals are not around, then we human animals are going to have a hard time surviving. It is not a coincidence that Honeysuckle blooms while Hummingbirds are migrating. Asters are in bloom as the Monarch butterflies begin their trip south. The insect population is at its highest during nesting season for birds. This is nature. Studies show that 90% of Native insects depend solely on Native plants.
A diverse, balanced ecosystem is a healthy, stable ecosystem. Biodiversity is the key to resilience. A complex web of life creates a buffer against disease and overfeeding. Plants have developed defenses, as with any life form, against diseases endemic to their home. It is the introduced pests and diseases that create the most devastating effects such as Japanese Beetles and Dutch Elm disease. As the American Chestnut has all but disappeared, the only way to save it is to keep planting it. In time, the genetic makeup of the plants will evolve a defense to the disease, but only if we allow nature to do what it does best. By planting diverse communities of Native plants we can slowly allow the plants that are best suited to this climate to reestablish that stable base.
Plants indigenous to the area we live in are best adapted to the soils and climate we find here. They have evolved over
millions of years to handle the rigors of this particular climate. They can handle the extreme cold and heat of our seasons. They are better able to withstand drought and periods of heavy rainfall. They are adapted to the heavy clay soils we find around us. Because of this tolerance, Native plants are easier to maintain with less reliance on fossil fuels, irrigation and chemicals. There is a great reduction in the need to irrigate during a drought, fertilize annually, use gas for a lawn mower or spray harmful chemicals. A healthy, self-functioning ecosystem will have the added benefits of filtering water through extensive root systems, moderate flooding, store Carbon, moderate local temperatures, control erosion, and enrich the soils.
Perhaps the most important reason to plant Natives, for humans, is the Sense of Place it creates. The world around us is a manufactured commercial of cookie cutter homes and style of the day fashions. A neglected part of our psyche is the importance of having a home, unique to you and those around you. When you have a home that is natural and tells you where in the world you are, you have a deeper respect for that place. Children running around a forest will grow up to have a better understanding of the importance of having a forest. The world around us contributes a great deal to who we are. When you are surrounded by a diverse, interconnected cloud of life, and a part of it, you will protect it as a family protects it’s young.
Little by little, plant by plant, yard by yard, we can reconnect the planet and the life sustaining systems that support it.
Specializing in the Growing, Sales and Installation of Native Plants
2237 Second Street Pike
Newtown PA, 18943