First they came for our Butterfly Bushes, then it was Daylilies, next it could be your Daffodils.
The US-led pro-natives militia have invaded social media platforms in Canada. So often now I see the divisive refrain, “that’s not native!”. It’s come to the point where non native plants are being labelled “invasive”. (“Exotics” is another telling pejorative!) Which is sad really. The label is unnecessarily alarmist and supercharged by native purists, many with dubious “expertise”.
A more accurate and helpful word for plants like, periwinkle, ajuga, lamium and pachysandra, is the more traditional description, “aggressive spreader”. Whether we knew it or not, many of us have grown plants that can all too easily travel into garden spaces where they are unwanted. Periwinkle travels by stolons, creeping into perennial beds and annoyingly under shrubs. It can defeat the gardener’s plan of separation and steal the eye from focus. It’s called a “garden thug” by the British. Experience has taught many to plant such aggressive spreaders where they can be contained. Stone or concrete barriers will lessen the workload needed to keep them in check.
Home gardening is never just about planting and sitting back. It’s the work and the beauty in a garden that provides all the physical and mental health benefits. We are all responsible for our properties. It comes with ownership. There’s no point complaining about a neighbour whose thistle seeds blow into your space. Or if the City allows the dandelions to proliferate and seed in your garden. Likewise, if there’s a problem in the local ravine the owners needs to deal with it. Property owners just have to be on guard and take care of business.
When did gardening on social media get so angry? People who I’ve never associated with anything but friendliness are now populating web sites with nastiness. Gardeners have always been a sharing, caring tribe, helpful with comments based on their experience. Soothing over the loss of a plant or offering suggestions for an ailing one.
Now it’s, Tallamy this and Tallamy that. As if periwinkle has only been around for the last ten years instead of over 320 years. I admit there’s science, but it’s on both sides of the argument. (Check out Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott for a balanced view) But the argument won’t be settled until those plants proven to be truly invasive are banned by law. Right now in Ontario there are only 4 plants that are “Restricted”. They can’t be imported or sold. Even then, we’re not compelled to report or remove them. We’re only advised to contain them. That’s a far cry from the purists who are busy digging up perfectly fine plants and releasing all the carbon that has been sequestered in the earth. How perverse is that?
If a plant is so dangerous to our ecology, economy, or health, then put it into law. Until then it can still be sold and planted in home gardens. In the meantime those of us who have some experience should help educate all those new gardeners who have taken up the cause of, “more gardens please for a better environment” Aggressive plants can cause a lot of grief and care should be taken when selecting where to place them.
Shaming, blaming, and inflammatory comments on social media isn’t helping. We mustn’t allow fear to overwhelm our ability to assess and manage risk. Climate Change is stoppable, evolution is not.