Tuesday, April 7, 2009

going Native

Last summer we ripped out our mini front lawn and put in Native plants: Camas, shooting stars, chocolate lilies, ostrich ferns, Nootka roses, Salal, uva ursi, columbines, Oregon Grape, and Snowberry bushes. it's like a mini Garry Oak meadow, with the Garry Oaks just down the road. I was very fortunate to have grown up beside a Garry Oak forest just behind Cedar Hill School. The forest is sadly gone now - like many small, urban Native patches. The smell of Dodecatheon or shooting stars, is the scent of my childhood. I loved climbing the long, gnarled branches of the dramatic Garry Oaks, and running through the Snowberry bushes, chucking a handful of the white berries at my friend.I remember sitting on the moss in the silent forest, perfectly peaceful and happy there with my friends the trees. Native gardening is water-wise gardening at its best - these plants are best suited to our environment, and can tolerate drier conditions, needing no artificial maintenance. Plus, you don't have to mow your lawn! Not to sound overly preachy, but a lawnmower pollutes the air as much as a car driving 350 miles. A great book resource is Native Plants in the Coastal Garden by April Pettinger. http://www.amazon.com/Native-Plants-Coastal-Garden-Gardeners/dp/0881925829 This book has everything - including how to design your native plant garden, enhancing soil, propagation, meadow combinations, different habitats for a variety of species, and an excellent regional source guide at the back of the book. I'm a member of GORP (Garry Oak Restoration Project) http://www.gorpsaanich.com/- we get together to eradicate invasive species such as English Ivy, giant knotweed, holly, purple loosestrife, spurge laurel, Western dwarf mistletoe, Himalayan blackberry, the dreaded morning glory! and Scotch Broom. They provide you with all the tools you need, you just need to bring some strong arms (and back) and maybe a thermos of hot tea. There's also the Native Plant Study Group with the Victoria Horticultural Society,http://www.npsg.ca/ and the Victoria natural History Society which hosts botany nights. http://vicnhs.bc.ca/ . I hope you have as much fun ripping out your lawn as I did!

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