Staff Articles

 

Natives in the Garden

When choosing plants for their yards and designing gardens, most people rarely take into account the local flora, or the fauna that corresponds with it. Many people are willing to give up their sense of place for the ease of cramming a box-store special into the yard because it has the latest color or is on sale. Most of our urban landscapes are therefore dominated by plants that can be found in any part of the country, lending to a uniform look that matches Minnesota to Arizona and beyond. It is this uniformity that usually leads to problems with hardiness, landscape stability and spiraling costs in maintenance. The question is, why? Why do we choose to look to other places for plants and forsake our local flora? Continue reading…

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The are No Insect-Free Plants, but There are Good Insects: Butterfly List

We have not used an insecticide, miticide, or fungicide or 20+ years and was forced to use a dormant oil application for the first time in 2009 in a very limited area. One might think that since we haven't used them, it means that our insect susceptibility is reduced because we grow natives. You'd be wrong. We have fewer pest problems because we grow our trees, shrubs and perennials under greatly reduced stress levels. In essence, the way we grow our plants reduces our need for many forms of pest control. It's also important to know that because we don't spray, the insects that eat the pests are also present, which further reduces our need for chemicals. Having predacious, good insects helps an ecosystem find a balance so that one group does not dominate and become a pest. This is not to say that we are not periodically invaded by bag worm or have a tree or two defoliated; we are, it's that we try to treat it in ways other than spraying.

There is another reason why we don't spray, one far more devious and underhanded: we love butterflies. As hard as it may be to believe, pesticides do kill butterflies, an outcome that is simply unacceptable. Continue reading…

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