Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Planned Reading: "Rambunctious Garden" by Emma Marris

This is my current interest. I'll be buying their book hopefully by the end of the month. The author, Emma Marris, was on KUOW's Greenday Gardening Panel earlier today; here is the direct link. Basically she takes an ecologist's point of view to gardening (and managing wildlife habitats?). She points out calling something native simply because it was growing at date X is arbitrary when we consider the millions of years of history before. Native Americans starting wildfires, driving large mammals to extinction, glaciers rampaging down the continent, etc...

Normally I'd brush this off as a boo hoo argument by the ornamental industry who have been pushing nonnatives on the average home owner since the dawn of time. However, Emma makes some surprisingly well thought out arguments. The problem, for me at least, is she sounds both smart or stupid at the same time. She encourages people to plant natives but also non-historically-native plants as long as they help pursuer a certain goal (look nice, birds, butterflies, pollinators, bugs, other wildlife). And this can be a stupid idea if someone has no idea what's native and what's not. The ornamental industry and most nurseries certainly don't make it easy to tell the difference. So the real beneficial gardens are only going to come from the people who've researched the topic of native plant. This movement could greatly benefit from a little education which might well be in her book, but this also contradicts her earlier point of just planting whatever helps you reach your goal. See what I mean by smart and stupid at the same time, for lack of a better term?   

Her point of view seems to be so broad that it's almost impossible for her to be wrong on the top of what's right to plant where. Hopefully her book has lots of substance and personal touches as I'm looking forward to reading it sometime in the near future.