The Native Debate

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I am not opposed, actually quite the contrary, to gardening “native”. But I’ve often wondered, what makes a plant “native”? Many people say that a plant can only be native if its origins can be traced to the locality. That’s a highly restrictive qualification.

In her blog “Another voice in the native debate”, Elizabeth Licata quotes Tony Avent, of Plant Delights in North Carolina, from his newsletter to Plant Delight customers:

“To call a plant native, you must consider nature as static (never changing), and then pick a random set of dates that you consider to be “ideal.” Most of the plants currently considered native to Wake County today, actually speciated tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years ago. The current conditions are nothing like the conditions then.”

Mr. Avent’s logic makes sense to me. And I agree with Ms. Licata when she says:

“Personally, I feel the native plant movement has raised awareness in a beneficial manner. As long as there continues to be plenty of room for compromise.”

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club