Why California Natives?

Sometimes people ask my why I like to use natives. And I have several reasons.
  • They're different. I've always enjoyed things that are a little different. I've sewed my own clothes for a long time. In plants, I look for the subtle and nuanced, the plants that invite closer examination.
  • Critters love them. Few things are more enjoyable than seeing birds in the birdbath, lizards dash across the path, and the native bees get so excited about the poppies that they fall out. Native wildlife prefers native plants, so it's only logical that I plant them.
  • They live here. On this point, I must admit that I cheat. I plant all California natives, not just locally native plants. But I'm a townmouse, so there's not a great danger that my plants crossbread with the wildland plants. My friend country mouse has more of a focus on locally native plants for that reason.
  • They save water. Plants from the chaparral, oak woodland, and desert habitats can get by with very little water. Other plants that are at home in the fog belt need more. My neighbor has nine mature redwoods on our property line, and those trees invite planting of redwood habitat plants. Those plants, like redwood sorrel, ferns, asarum caudatum (native ginger) and so on need moderate water. Altogether, though, using natives has much improved my water efficiency.
  • They're pretty. I love to look at my garden in the spring and see the poppies and ceanothus (wild lilac), or in the summer and see the different eriogonums (buckwheats), or in the fall and see the zauschneria (California fuchsia).


Country Mouse said…
Wonderful points!

I'm thinking that by giving my neighbors some good deer proof, garden-worthy plants (if I ever can propagate some) I can encourage them to branch out and imbibe some nutritious new ideas about gardening with natives -- and maybe replacing some invasive exotics.

Oddly enough, there seems to be less motivation out here in the wilds, where so many natives grow anyway that people don't feel the need to help them along, and the issue of invasives doesn't seem that big a deal.

I sometimes wish it was less of a big deal to me, as I tend to see all the bad exotics in the landscape instead of the good local stuff.