Eco-Logical Plant Choices
By “Green” Gene Sottosanto
Ecological is also economical. You don’t have to pay an exorbitant water bill if you plant drought tolerant plants. Instead of ornamentals, maintain food-bearing plants for fresh produce. Save on maintenance bills with a more natural design. The best plant choices have more than one use. For example, the California Walnut is edible, drought tolerant, and attracts birds.
An informed gardener knows that ecology works harmoniously with economy. Plant selection, overall design and usage are aspects of your landscape that need to be logically planned. Your gardens location and conditions as well as your personal preferences, abilities and desires should be considered. Determine what degree of formality you want in your design and what other priorities compete for space, time and other resources.
It is enjoyable and easy to attract and feed some wildlife. A small garden in the middle of a highly developed area may not be appropriate for a diverse wildlife sanctuary, but tubular red flowers attract hummingbirds, even in small gardens. Climbing Aloe and Cape Honeysuckle are a couple of the many hummingbird favorites. If cats are not a problem, a source of dripping water is often a delight for a variety of birds. Feeding the very aggressive imported House Sparrows, Starlings, and Pigeons only hurts the native or indigenous bird species. Indigenous plants feed indigenous birds the best.
A productive food garden will require regular and thoughtful care. The amount of available sunlight is a most important factor. It is wonderful and relatively easy to find a place for a basket of hanging strawberries or to grow fresh sprouts on your windowsill. You can enjoy tasty varieties when you grow your own, as you do not need to select hybrids for packaging purposes. Homegrown plants are not grown at the expense of quality or routinely sprayed with pesticides.
Low maintenance is a priority for many homeowners. The way to accomplish this is to use drought tolerant plants arranged in a natural manner. Your design can also feed some wild birds, and butterflies. Select plants that can grow naturally without having to be sheared. Unused lawns can be replaced with a variety of groundcovers that give seasonal variety needing only seasonal care. If privacy is needed in a small garden, it may be better to use a pine fence rather than a hedge which needs regular shearing and takes up more space.
For plants to be truly “eco-logical”, it is necessary to be logical in your planting designs as well as in your general garden practices. Use a thick layer of mulch and recycle material from your garden and kitchen. If you really want ecology to prevail, make compost and feed kitchen scraps to an earthworm box or a couple of hens.
But above all, remember to enjoy your garden.