The impossible is happening… spring seems to have finally arrived and be here to stay!
The impossible is happening… spring seems to have finally arrived and be here to stay! No matter how many winters we spend in Rye, around the end of February we always succumb to the irrational fear that the cold will never end. This year, the arrival of spring weather coincided perfectly with the longer days that Daylight Savings afforded us. Not only can we finally get around to seeing our gardens, but we also have more time to look at them and start planning for the coming months.
As you plan, keep in mind the importance of incorporating native plants into your garden. When you plant a tree or shrub native to our area, you not only convey a beautiful sense of regional identity to your garden, but you also provide excellent support for local insects, ergo birds, and then right on up the food chain. With this one simple idea, you can add a whole additional layer of life and vibrancy to your garden. Imagine all of that beautiful plant life that you enjoy all summer further enhanced by the beauty of butterflies and birds breezing through your backyard. The best part: You are also doing an incalculable good for the ecosystems in our area.
Here’s how it works: native plants – not species from foreign lands – feed native insects. That’s because plants, in order to avoid being eaten, have chemicals in their leaves that are toxic to most insects. However, over very long periods of time (thousands of years), certain insects evolve to safely eat one or two plant lineages. Non-native species were introduced very recently as far as these adaptations go, and so cannot support any insects. Great, you may think! Not so. Because what you sacrifice is the biodiversity of your garden and, by extension, our town, and the native wildlife of our region. Besides, most of the insects feeding on native plants are eaten by birds before they can make much more than a pin-hole in the leaves of your trees, shrubs, and perennials.
Doug Tallamy, the behavioral ecologist and acknowledged expert on the subject of restoring wildlife through the use of native plants, lays out just how easy it is to bring native plants back into human-dominated landscapes. He suggests planting belts of natives around the perimeter of your yard, which leaves plenty of room near the house for your non-native, more exotic favorites. Even better, if the whole community started planting this way, we could create a wildlife corridor that would help ameliorate the negative effects of suburban sprawl and continually larger homes built on smaller plots of land.
— The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee