Restoration or Recreation, Redux

I'd like to thank Ms Town Mouse for sharing the many interesting topics covered in the talk we attended - with a third post promised. This is good news for me because I am unfortunately preoccupied with various volunteer activities that I'm trying to complete so I can get back to gardening. Oh, I miss the garden! I did do some more cleanup in the pool area last weekend, but there is so much more I want to do.

I have been meditating, though, upon one topic; and the object of my meditations has been the four inch pot containing an Oenothera hookeri plant - see above - that sits awaiting its fate.

I picked it from the plants so kindly brought by the hosts of the talk we attended last weekend. The pool garden is developing a warm yellow-to-red color palette, so I was immediately attracted to the Oenothera hookeri. But thinking over how it reseeds and spreads, I'm wondering what to do.

Calflora does report that Oenothera hookeri has been found in Santa Cruz county. But I don't know where this plant came from. Planting it breaks my rule: Only indigenous natives are allowed to spread.

But is my rule too strict? When it comes to restoration of these three or so acres, how pure should I be? These acres are far from pristine, as I know very well each spring when I embark upon a ruthless campaign of weed eradication.

So should I be a strict restoration gardener, removing the non-natives, and encouraging only the local natives - allowing for a few ornamentals here and there that will stay in their place?

Or should I also introduce plants that could be native here but aren't -- even though I fish them out of a different gene pool?

And if I am to be a strict restoration gardener - what, then, do I do with that hopeful, innocent, evening primrose?


Anonymous said…
Well, that is entirely up to you, but if I might be so bold as to make a suggestion, do you want to so limit yourself to what was there? After all, seeds blow in and that plant might have come to live there on its own. Rules are made to be broken, is my own philosophy, but yours might be more strict. Good luck with the decision making! :-)
Anonymous said…
Weren't you already considering planting completely non-native species in the pool garden? It seems to me that a locally native species whose origin you're not sure of is preferable to a species from some other continent. Sure, it may have very slightly different genes than the local plants, and this could theoretically dilute the local population's difference from other populations - but it's probably not a huge genetic difference, and the new genes might even help the local population if the local population had been becoming too inbred. And you know, there are plenty of areas of California where many of the native species are totally gone now, where restorationists must use plants from other parts of the state, because that's all that's left.

If you need some more help deciding, you might consult the CaprICE Plant Species Distribution Map Browser's map for Oenothera elata ssp. hookeri. That should clarify whether the species is native to your specific part of Santa Cruz County.
Anonymous said…
. . . That should clarify whether the subspecies is native, I meant to say.
Town Mouse said…
Las Pilitas says this plants pops up in disturbed areas and is then crowded out by plants that are native to that region. So, maybe buy some seeds and sow the hill where the bay tree was? Maybe it could crowd out some of those ugly non-native tall green things.
Country Mouse said…
Yes, qbc, I do plan to make the pool garden ornamental - it's an artificial space. My rule still holds: no spreaders. Only indigenous natives can be spreaders. I'm just not yet settled in my mind regarding stewardship of the wilderness areas. They are already botanically very rich, it's not like I'm depriving myself here! Chaparral, redwood forest, mixed evergreen forest - it's a feast. But a slightly spoiled feast. At the back of my mind are the rabbits in Australia, and all the other disasters we humans have visited upon the planet with all our best intentions. In my microcosm, am I doing the same thing with Oenothera? (as an example). I like what qbc and TMouse said - it does make sense. True, Frances, things can certainly blow in - but not from Marin, where the oenothera came from or was at least raised. I know I'm being - punctilious. But since this is common on disturbed sites, a bandaid plant, I'll probably give it a home and let it spread to do its healing, if it does spread. I think it has a niche here for that purpose. But, but but - I still feel timid at playing God in a wilderness area.
Christine said…
It would hamper attracting birds, but what if you grew it and cut the seed heads before it went to seed? Maybe saved a couple to plant next time since its biennial? More work, but a conscience more at ease. . .
Barbara E said…
Although I don't live near open space, I grapple with this very question. True, it is nearly impossible to get locally native plants in my city, but still I hope that I am not doing more damage than good. Who's to know?

So rather than getting way too wordy, I'm writing to say I feel your pain and go for it - it's probably okay :)