Botanical brawl over native plants

I spotted an irresistable tweet this afternoon; it was by @ThomasRainerDC and it read:

The native plant debate can get pretty ugly. Check out the comments on Garden Rant

Naturally, I checked it out. I love a good botanical brawl as much as the next person, and have fond memories of the hair-pulling slap-happy fights that used to go on in the orchid forums. This one, however, ranks as more of a girl fight. Quite civilized actually.

Still, it's worth a read if only to get acquainted with the ideological arguments that go on in the garden world over the use of native plants. The hard-liners that I have met are generally new to gardening, convinced that the way to save the planet is to banish ornamentals and grow "native plants" instead.  It's not so different, I suppose, from the high-minded ideals that draw beginners into vegetable gardening, motivated by fears for food security and the conviction that every inch of neglected space in a fat first-world city should be devoted to growing food.

Whatever it takes to draw new gardeners in, be it ecological passion or passing 100-mile diet fad, I say: Welcome. At least you're not boring.

I'm going to give the last word to Kermit, a rational voice in that "ugly" thread:

In the … ideological conflicts I’ve seen in my life, it seems that often the enemy camp isn’t attacked so enthusiastically as allies who fail to toe the most severe party line… In the 21st century gardening subculture we usually ignore folks who build and move into suburban developments – other than a passing comment on the boring lawn monoculture – but attack gardeners who aren’t “doing it right”.

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