Saturday, March 01, 2008


(I apologize – the sidebar “About Me”, “Previous Posts” and “Archives” has moved to the bottom of this blog. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it back to the top. I haven’t been able to get an answer from Blog Spot. If anyone out there has the answer, please let me know.)

Eco-gardening, sustainable landscape, xeriscape, organic gardening, native plants, bio-diversity – words that elicit strong opinions but are not easy to define. There is controversy at every turn. Experts don’t agree on what organic means. How much organic fertilizer is too much?

Brian Higgins review of Jeff Gillman’s recent book Truth about Organic Gardening

‘”…if you are simply replacing synthetic products with organic ones, you are missing the point. The aim is to reduce the need for fertilizers and, especially, pesticides. How do you do that?
You build the soil with correct amounts of compost and mulch, choose plants that do well and place them in their optimum locations. These are the true parts of organic gardening," says Gillman, a professor of horticultural science at the University of Minnesota.’

Here’s a British article on Eco-gardening: The comments are especially enlightening and outline some of the problems and differences of opinion with sustainable landscaping. The controversies, large and small, are not exclusive to England.

As we all try to be eco-friendly, it’s not easy to follow the many differing viewpoints. And some experts are very opinionated.

Doug Green’s Gardening Blog February 24 “Gardening as a Religion” illustrates just how opinionated some gardeners can be

‘“…I see this extreme attitude in individuals in a huge variety of gardening groups. From the native “plant nazi’s” (yes, that’s how they’re referred to in the trade) who reject any plant that isn’t “native”. (whatever that is)…’

Native plants are good, right? IPM Choosing Healthy Landscapes has tips for choosing plants well adapted to your site.

“Sometimes, exotic plants are more resistant to pests than are their native relatives. For example, Cornus kousa, an exotic dogwood that was introduced from the Far East, is less susceptible to infestation by the dogwood borer than is Cornus florida, the flowering dogwood, one of our native species.”

I chose the Cornis florida for my garden because I think it’s prettier. Even if it may be shorter lived, the squirrels continue to plant replacements. That’s sustainable enough for me.

Marianne Ophardt Master Gardener, Central Washington Editor, Extension Area Educator, Washington State University recommends trying some unusual weeping trees. ‘. . . the discriminating gardener that “takes the road less traveled” should consider some less familiar, more unusual weeping specimens.’ Well, who wouldn’t want to be known as a “discriminating gardener”?

Rhododendron is an acid soil loving plant. Does it have a place in our limestone soil gardens? . Do we need to add Holly Tone or Mir-Acid? Is that sustainable? New construction changes the natural soil. Most experts seem to agree that soil testing is a good idea. (See September 29, 2007 post)

Bee Colony collapse, white nose syndrome in bats, fish abnormalities, frog and toad deaths, air pollution, water pollution, carbon footprint – we all want to do the right thing. The problem - what is the right thing to do?

Here’s my starter list:
- Don’t spray indiscriminately
- Don’t fertilize indiscriminately
- Read and follow all label directions

Most important
- Make compost
- Use mulch
- Do the research
- Be patient

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