Saturday, March 28, 2009

In Defense of Average

Common Hollyhock

Plant hybridizers are always busy keeping up with the wants and ideals of gardeners.

Some people always want what is currently unavailable or ever more spectacular.

Most of us want beauty in addition to the benefits for disease/insect resistance, and increased production. The end result of some hybridizing results in altering hardiness & budding seasons. Much hybridizing is done for the sake of food stuffs but that’s another topic.

Have you ever noticed where the butterflies are the most prolific? It’s in the roadsides or on native flowers. Those flowers are so average, we have a tendency to take them for granted or not want them in our gardens.

There’s some other news regarding some new garden plants. Some have been hybridized where they only have the beauty. They no longer have the ability, or timing, or scent at the moment our insects need those things. Having these plants as accents may not harm anything. Having a yard full, in exclusion of the average, may take its toll on the environment.

When you take away a plant’s specific draw for a specific insect, bird or bat, you are also altering another part of nature. If the pollinator can no longer smell the needed scent, see the needed color, find the nectar at the exact time needed, there’s a problem. If the host plant for the different stages of insects is no longer available, there’s a problem.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to have a new beautiful plant in your yard. What I am saying is you must have some average if you want to be a part of earth’s continuing health.

We hear about the effects of diminished rain forests and think “that’s not my problem in the Midwest.” But nature is a fragile balance even in Henry County, Illinois.

What I suggest is simple. Make sure some of the “bones” of your garden are native perennials. Let a few local “weeds” grow in between the hybridized displays.

The not so beautiful child often grows into our favorite. Why? Because a well rounded average has so much more to love.

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