Want bio-diversity in the garden? Plant natives.

Did you catch the lecture by Doug Tallamy at the New York Botanical Gardens the other day? Neither did I, but there is a nice wrap up here.   Dr. Tallamy is the Professor & Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at The University of Delaware. The nature of his talk was, "if you take away the places for wildlife to live and feed, you will lose your wildlife."  He continues, "through continuous and careful research that shows how native plants are vastly better at supporting wildlife than exotics. Even amongst the natives there is no equality–oaks (Quercus) support 534 different forms of wildlife while Canadian redbuds (Cercis) support only 19."

This poses a challenge for those of us in the nursery trade, especially those of us in Mediterranean climates. How do you encourage people to plant according to climate, when so much of what's available for gardeners doesn't take our unique climate into consideration. We talked about this back in July of 2007 when I wrote a post with the catchy title, "California Horse Chestnut" This particular tree does what any sensible California native should do in the summer, it goes dormant during the summer drought, and returns to life with the late winter rains.

My hope would be for people to use the water that's available for maintaining their food crops, and use more natives or Mediterranean plants for the "landscape".  It will mean looking at the garden here with a different approach than we have in the past. I wonder if people are more willing to do that now than they we're back in 2007?