Chaos, meaning complexity in nature, and also the natural, usual state of my garden!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Love the natives!
From the time I was a child, one of my favorite pleasures has been to walk in the woods and seek out and enjoy wildflowers. I had the good fortune to grow up in a rural area in mid-Michigan on a farm, with a huge cedar swamp and a couple of patches of deciduous woods to explore. I reveled in such woodland treasures as trailing arbutus, blood root, dog-tooth violets, huge white trilliums, violets of all kinds, witch hazel, wild phlox, and secret dark places under the pines where Indian pipes thrust up ghostly white flowers. In the summer there were black-eyed susans, daisies, blackberries, columbine and meadows full of flowers taller than I was (which in retrospect, wasn't that tall at all!). Fall brought goldenrod and wild grapes and chokeberries for juice and jellies. Down in the deep swamp there were soft mosses, ferns, fascinating fungi and water plants that I never learned to identiy but loved anyway. On the sandy barrens were sun mosses and lichens, British soldiers that I loved, laying on my stomach to study them in the hot sun. I knew where all the bee trees were, where the blackberries and wild grapes were the thickest. I knew where the owl roosted in the daytime, where the deer hid in the swamp and played with turtles, watched for snakes, and hunted bear tracks. I never saw one but there were, actually, black bears in those cedar swamps, and still are, for all I know. My wonderful days in those woods influenced my gardening tastes for all of my life.
As I grew up and made gardens of my own, I always made a special spot for my native loves. To my delight, my Chaotic acre came with a small patch of woods, already blessed with a small patch of wild things, to which I have spent the last 25 years adding native plants and wildflowers. Now, I have a veritable carpet of them, and as often happens, new things keep showing up voluntarily each year, probably as a result of birds "helping" me. I also use native plants in my perennial beds and borders. I find that they are hardier, more disease resistant, bloom longer, and their colors are not as garish nor their flowers as outlandish as some of the new cultivars. So....I have been asked to post a partial list of the nearly 300 different varieties of native things I have, some of them truly native and some of them I have naturalized. I left out a lot, there isn't enough space on these pages for everything and you all would be bored to tears with such a list.