Last week, I wrote a blog post about the dangers of invasive species and listed several species of plants that may be available at your local garden center but that you should steer clear of, never adding them to your own garden. Conventional wisdom among gardeners for a few years now has been that we should use native plants in our gardens and that we should be attempting to restore our ecosystems to their pristine state that existed before human interference. This is the view still held by most gardeners that I know.
But there is another point of view, one that holds that introduced species are not necessarily so bad and that sometimes the introduction of exotic species can actually benefit natives. That view is expounded in a book that was published in 2011 called Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. The author, Emma Marris, argues that we live in a "post-wild" world where global warming and the ecological disturbance, as the world adapts to human domination, has created a situation that has turned the whole planet into a novel ecosystem. In this circumstance, she says, the exotic species of the world are moving, evolving, and forming new ecological relationships. Thus, the despised invaders of today may be the keystone species of tomorrow's ecosystems.
It's an intriguing theory, one that I need to know more about. I have not read the book. I read about it today in one of the blogs that I follow, "Garden Rant." If you are interested in gardening, you might want to follow it, too. The team of bloggers that write there always have something interesting to say.
I'm not planning to change my gardening practices tomorrow. I still intend to use native plants in my landscape, but there is food for thought here, and as Thomas Christopher, the writer of today's Garden Rant, says, "To be the best gardeners we can be we need to challenge our assumptions from time to time."
What is true in gardening is also true in life.