|Rainer’s Photo of native biomass example|
I recently wrote a profile on English ivy, and it is with interest that I read this passionate gardener/landscaper’s post calling us to throw off the yoke of the groundcover and take on a style of native gardening.
I empathize, and am almost persuaded. But there are a few things I still would consider….
- The vast majority of homeowners are not yet gardeners, though they wish for a pleasant yardscape. “Groundcovers represent a failure of the imagination.” That is very true, but it also represents a lack of time and will to garden as well as lack of know-how.
- For the aging gardener, and I am one, the need to use plantings that reduce the amount physical effort spent in maintaining a garden must be considered. I can’t afford to pay someone to do the yard maintenance even if I wanted to… switching to groundcovers can accomplish that. So, short of letting the yard go wild completely ( and I do give over large parts of it for just such spaces), how may we garden into our years while staying in our properties that require upkeep?
- The trend ought to be towards an ecologically sound method of gardening, with an eye to what people will realistically adopt in their garden practices. Rarely is nature easily and drastically changed for the better. Even if it were possible to move masses of Americans to garden rather than maintain their yards…. might we have other problems from the behavior of the herd, rather than considerate gardening? Maybe it is only in the professional landscaping sector that this message ought to be driven home … since they are the consultants, the trendmakers through communication media, and often the ones planting the low maintenance yards of the suburbs with many poor plants choices.
- Perhaps the answer is more in the general work ethos that our culture has or lacks, because stewarding the land is often a labor intensive undertaking
However, this is a blog that I hope has longevity, because Thomas Rainer combines great writing and great gardening in his well crafted blog.
The alternative to groundcovers is not slightly less invasive groundcovers, but planting beds filled with native biomass. We need to re-imagine our beds filled with a rich tapestry of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and low trees. While our unfamiliarity with these materials make them intimidating, we should rely on the toughest and most resilient native perennials and grasses to fill our borders. The demand for evergreen should be replaced with plants that provide winter interest: dried grasses, seed heads, and structural deciduous shrubs. We should transform our ecological dead zones into ecological hotspots by creating connected areas of native biomass. When we do this, we invite pollinators and birds back into our landscapes. –The End of Groundcovers
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