The Native Garden
by Heather Rennalls
Sunny skies, hot days and copious colours in our gardens. It’s that time of year when the Gardeners turn their green thumps into masterful pieces of art in the landscape.
But instead of manicured green lawns and trimmed hedges reminiscent of golf courses, many Canadian gardeners are concerned about our environment and the garden ecosystem. As a result, they are refusing to use pesticides and are bringing native species back into gardens to attract pollinators. Now, many gardens throughout communities have natural front yards.
But what is a native garden? According to Mark Cullen, Canada’s Gardener Guru, author, broadcaster and garden editor of Reno & Decor Magazine, describes the following in his book The New Canadian Gardens:
“Native: A plant that is indigenous to the area. It has developed alongside the native wildlife and is accustomed to the climate, pollinators, and seasonal variations. These plants have been around for hundreds if not thousands, of years. Many use the term “prior to European settlement” to describe the timeline for a native plant. They grow, develop, and change through natural means and natural selection.”
Ten years ago I took the plunge in converting my property into gardens after making the decision to not use pesticides on my lawn. I could not keep up with hand digging the clover and Creeping Charlie that seemed to replace my grass. Since my front yard butted up against my neighbour’s pristine lawn, I had to try desperate measures. As an ardent nature lover, I wanted to attract a myriad of birds, butterflies and bees to my property by employing native plants. But I was not clear which plants were native to my area.
After digging out my grass, which was a chore unto itself, I planted a combination of flowers dispersed among large boulders left from new area construction. However, my garden looked disheveled. I then employed a landscaper who removed most of my plants and added stones and gravel to bring order out of chaos.