"The poetry of the earth is never dead." ~ John Keats
A plant that feeds or houses nothing has not done its job! Plants have a purpose – it is more than just to look pretty. Native plants are essential for our environment. Their job is to feed and provide housing for wildlife, they contribute to biodiversity and they create wonder for us.
We are replacing native plants with alien plants at an alarming rate. Why is this an issue? It is a huge issue because native wildlife are not able to eat alien plants. An alien plant is one that is not naturally found in the landscape of that particular area. We've never been taught the value of biodiversity in the landscape and what an important role it plays in sustaining our own life-support systems. According to University of Delaware professor, Douglas Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, "it is biodiversity that generates oxygen and clean water; that creates topsoil out of rock and buffers extreme weather events like droughts and floods; and that recycles the mountains of garbage we create every day. And now, with human induced climate change threatening the planet, it is biodiversity that will suck carbon out of the air and sequester it in living plants if given half a chance. Humans cannot live as the only species on this planet because it is other species that create the ecosystem services essential to us."
In creating this biodiversity in our own gardens, it is important to understand that not all plants are created equal. Insect herbivores can only eat plants which share an evolutionary history with them - native plants. Also, many birds rely on insects for up to 80% of their diet during their breeding season. No one piece of the puzzle will be enough, it will take all the pieces put together to create the new nature we all need. As Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle states "the future will belong to the nature-smart --those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtural with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need."