A Gardeners Daydream

runktrun(z7a MA)June 10, 2010

In many ways the neighbors I will be telling you about are wonderful folks to live next door to but frankly when it comes to the issue of horticulture they make my life a tedious living he!!. Looking back twenty years when with broad grins they planted Russian Olive along the property line as screening (which was a freebie from another home owner), coveted bittersweet, transplanted Lonicera japonica aka japanese honeysuckle, were thrilled with the Sweet Autumn Clematis that "just showed up", and gave up trying to keep the poison ivy at bay after one attempt, I should have known I would become an ambidextrous weeder.

I wouldnÂt have thought any more of this horticultural annoyance had they not mentioned recently how much they love their native landscape "after all we donÂt have to spend nearly as much time or money working in the yard as you do and we never have to water our native plants". I quickly decided the best course of action would be to bite my tongue smile and run back home to weed.

Of course weeding allows for plenty of time to think and the one question that kept rolling around in my head was; is the contemporary trend of using native plants in the landscape actually doing more harm to native plant populations? This issue is solely one of newly developing areas, and where today every plant in the landscape is assumed to be native to the average homeowner who is looking no searching for a reason to leave their landscape untouched. I wonder what percentage of plants in the undeveloped New England landscape can within reason be considered native?

Now having complained about the neighbor who perpetuates invasive plants by assuming they are native plants, I have to ask myself who has bought and planted too many to count rare plants from foreign places that could easily turn on me and become the thugs of tomorrow. What property owner is more damaging to the struggling native plant population?

ps. what do you daydream about while you weed?

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spedigrees z4VT

Your posts always make me smile, runktrun, and think. My weeding daydreams vary from the philosophical to the mundane, depending on my mood and the events of the day. Sometimes I listen to music while in the gardens and sometimes just listen to the birds sing.

The only invasive culprit that I take issue with is already here, wild parsnip (poison parsnip) and was here before we bought our land back in the early 70s. The only way to deal with it is by mowing and weed whacking. I can't blame its arrival on anyone I know.

I'll happily trade neighbors with you! I'd welcome coexistence with an otherwise harmless soul who covets invasive plants, but I wouldn't wish to inflict the criminal property destruction of my own lawless neighbors or the expense of our boundary dispute lawsuit against them on *anyone* let alone you!

You're smart not to completely speak your mind, although you could probably point out casually without causing acrimony that bittersweet etc are not actually native to New England just in the interest of accuracy.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 4:01PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

Have you told them, nicely of course, that those are invasives not locals? A few years ago I wouldn't have known. However I like Russian olive, bittersweet, honeysuckle and even the invasive local plant, cattails. Which are filling up our brackish coastal pond and we're not allowed to get rid of them. Phragmites and purple flag, yes. Not cat tails. Hmmph.

This year I'm specializing in evasive, not invasive, plants. My carrot seeds didn't germinate. My cucumber plants shriveled and disappeared. At least the deer won't eat them. And they won't get the other vegs either, now that I've built a potager with wire fencing and tall cedar posts. Take THAT, Bambi.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 5:10PM
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terrene(5b MA)

When I'm gardening, I am usually in the moment and don't really daydream. In a flow state and the mind is pretty blank. But I do happen to spend a lot of other time thinking about and attempting to control invasive plants, both in the yard and the neighborhood. I would have no doubt said something to correct the neighbors' delusions about their plants, diplomatically of course. Fortunately my next door neighbor on one side HATES anything weedy non-native OR native, and the neighbor on the other side benignly permits me to tromp his lot and cut the Bittersweet and a few other invasive plants.

Is the contemporary trend of using native plants in the landscape actually doing more harm to native plant populations?

Hmmm I don't understand this daydream?

I wonder what percentage of plants in the undeveloped New England landscape can within reason be considered native?

If a rural and remote landscape and having had minimal human activity, the percentage of natives could be near 100%. The undeveloped areas in my neighborhood - canopy layer is primarily native; understory layer is primarily non-native; herbaceous layer is about 50/50.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 6:14PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I had to look up wild parsnip Wild parsnip can cause phytophotodermatitis to the skin. If the plant juices come in contact with skin in the presence of sunlight, a rash and/or blistering can occur, as well as skin discoloration that may last several months. no wonder you mow! I think wild parsnip may equal posion ivy!
LOL, if it makes you feel any better I was just comiserating with fellow gardeners at my community garden about the poor results we have gotten from carrots this year. The only plot that has some really beautiful carrots planted them very early, perhaps it is the warmer than usual spring that they are not happy with.

Is the contemporary trend of using native plants in the landscape actually doing more harm to native plant populations?
What I was trying (poorly) to communicate was the trend in newly developing areas in particular resort areas where folks don't want to pay for or spend their vacation time maintaining landscape they are not altering the existing landscape when they build under the auspices of native landscaping.
The photo taken two years ago of a property in my community is a good example of what I am trying to say, I am certain if I walked around their yard it would be chock full of invasive plants that the homeowner would consider native because he didnÂt buy them at a nursery rather mother nature planted them.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 7:24AM
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Oh my. Someone actually might call that "landscaping?" An overgrown weed patch? Is "native landscape" the new term for "don't want to spend the money or time on my yard" ? That's a shame.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 7:46AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Same property two years later. I took this photo from a distance this morning so it was hard to tell what plants are actually growing. It should be noted that while building this house they removed the top soil and never replaced it otherwise I am sure it would have been a sea of pokeweed. IÂll have to go for a bike ride this weekend and take note of what plants are growing.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 4:57PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Is someone actually living there? That looks like a vacant property to me.

That isn't native landscaping, or the more traditional landscaping of exotic grass/foundation plantings/well-appointed tree. It isn't even the natural landscape that existed before development, because you said the lot was scraped. That is NO landscaping! Nothing inherently wrong with it, although it's ugly, and it's going to result in whatever seeds happen-to-meet-soil sprouting, native or non-native.

IMO this neglected property is less of a threat to wild native plant populations than your neighbor's with the intentionally-cultivated Russian olive and oriental bittersweet - until of course, the invasives growing there start to flower/fruit heavily.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 7:51AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Is someone actually living there? That looks like a vacant property to me.

Lol, Yes this is a well used seasonal home. The issue of removing the top soil may be different from this local trend, most seasonal homeowners will spread top soil sprinkle some grass seed in a very small area directly around the house and leave it at that. Perhaps this is a trend that is specific to my community I don't know. I wonder what type of landscaping is done in more rural communities?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 6:14PM
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spedigrees z4VT

If this is a second home, maybe its owners use it to get away and don't want to spend their getaway time tending to the landscape. That is how I would feel. I enjoy gardening at my primary (and only) residence, but when I'm on vacation I leave the landscape work at home.

Actually I wouldn't want the upkeep of a second home either, but I can see why those who have one might not want the additional maintenance of a second lawn and garden. I'd probably leave it as is too, and have topsoil brought in to create a lawn and some minimal landscaping if I decided to put it on the market.

Could be also that landscaping is on their to-do list, but on a lower priority rung. Maybe now they're spending their time and energy renovating the inside of the house. Be interesting to see how the house looks in a couple more years.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 4:32PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I wouldn't want the upkeep on a vacation home or yard either. Although I do own a rental property, which is for income purposes, it is doubtful I will ever own a vacation home. Philosophically, I am opposed to them, because habitat destruction due to development is the #1 cause of the decline in native species and biodiversity. The disturbance of the landscape that occurs with development is also a vector for the spread of invasive species. It's bad enough that we bulldoze beautiful native landscapes and replace them with the sterile landscape of grass and irrelevant non-native plants for the purpose of primary residences. Guess I'm a bit hardcore on the subject.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 5:02PM
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It being a second home really isn't an excuse. You can install low maintenance landscaping and if you don't want to do it yourself, hire someone to take care of it. I personally know I wouldn't want to live next to a weed patch. It's common neighborly courtesy.

I live full time in our vacation home while my husband travels to our "primary" residence during the week for work. (I work, but travel so it doesn't matter where I hang my hat.) Our primary residence is a condo with landscape tending included in our fees. I take care of the Newport garden. But if I couldn't, or didn't want to, I'd hire someone. If I couldn't afford to hire someone, then I'd just do it. I wouldn't want to look at that if it were MY house.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 8:07PM
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