Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Righteous Garden

This gardener fights for the right and struggles to find out what "right" means. It's not easy, but this is my quest. And there are somethings I'm able to grasp as being right and good.

These include: Gratitude, Diversity, and Hope. The idea of diversity pops up over and over again in my life and has led me to some conclusions about life that can, of course, be applied to the garden.

Things to Apply to Your Garden.

Native Plant gardeners are often accused of being self-righteous and sometimes xenophobic. And maybe some of us are, and maybe part of me is. But I'm cautious of falling into these categories, and that says something. I can't speak for all native plant gardeners, so I'll speak only for myself.

Like I've said, I believe in diversity. In culture and in ecology. It's good to have as many angles as possible so that we can carve out truths. (I choose to believe in truths, call me a modernist. I choose to believe in diversity, call me a postmodernist). And a wide range of ideas keeps our culture running smoothly and gives us options. But beyond all the practical reasons for salvaging and creating diversity, the need, beyond these reasons I want diversity. It keeps life interesting.

The Garden of La Mancha prioritizes thus:

1. Food--the best way to be happy and responsible is to provide for oneself as much as possible. Heirloom varieties are preferable for agricultural diversity's sake.

2. Natives--the best way to keep the local biodiversity going.

3. Beauty--is that well-tended garden with wild corners. Beauty will be expressed as much as possible with edible and native plants. Non-native, non-food producing ornamentals, will be chosen with great care and must be absolutely irresistable to be included in the garden.

4. The garden should never be static. There will always be new projects and experiments. So plants will come and go. It will be an ecosystem with successions within successions and some disturbances.

Perhaps the heirarchy is more like a food pyrimad, with edibles on the bottom, natives in the middle, and eye-candy on top. (Too much variegated and colorful foliage, and too many gawdy flowers gross me out). Of course, if you have a lot of land, you may want to let more of it grow wild.

To me, the thoughts that a plant is useful or native adds beauty to it. It's similar to how heavy whole wheat bread tastes better to me becuase of the thought that it is good for me. This is why a native plant with a few holes in the leaves is more beautiful, than the invasive gawdy non-native plant down the street.

Never invasive non-natives.

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