Native Gardens & Symbiotic Plants
BIOMIMICRY: Nature is the best scientist and teacher. From the airplane mimicking a bird wing to the chainsaw mimicking a beetle's teeth, We can trust that nature designs the best, or if you are like me, you also want to prove why logically.
"Symbiotic" relationships between organisms are ones where both organisms depend on each other and feed each other by sharing nutrients.
This cross-sharing of essential nutrients is known as the SOIL FOOD WEB: a mutually beneficial and interdependent sharing and cycling of nutrients between plants and their soil microbes.
NATURE HATES BARE SOIL: The last thing Nature wants is Bare Soil. Look at any native New England environment and you will see plants or leaf litter covering every piece of ground. Even when disturbed, Nature will always quickly attempt to cover its ground. Without cover, the soil begins to "die" fungi and bacteria get cooked by the hot sun, and without the byproducts fungal strands and bacterial glue holding soil together, soil will erode and won't hold water during rainstorms. The Soil Food Web depends on the ground being "covered."
TRACE MINERALS Just like in our human bodies, plants need trace minerals for vigorous nervous and immune systems. In bare soil situations, the microbes which supply these micronutrients heat up and die and the plant health suffers. The lesson here is: the reason why weeds quickly grow in bare disturbed areas is to save the health of the soil.
SO WHY NATIVE PLANTS: Invasive species disrupt nature, in many ways
1) Relentless invasive vines like oriental bittersweet choke trees / shrubs to death without any natural predators
2) Deer won't eat wild rose and japanese barberry and can't travel through them either, so the plants flourish in disturbed, open areas and crowd out tree saplings so that the forest cannot reestablish.
3) Birds and rodents eat invasive berries and spread the invasive plant seeds everywhere
4) chipmunks and mice live in greater numbers in the unnatural shelter of rose and barbery brambles and may be spreading lyme disease faster than historically.
5) - Most invasive plants have bitter, toxic leaves which only insects they evolved with can digest. Our U.S. insects mostly cannot eat the invasive plant leaves, so there is less density of insects. Because birds ONLY feed their young insects, and not berries or seeds, if the insects won't eat the invasives, then invasives may be reducing wild bird populations.
As we can see, the web of interrelationships goes deep, and Native Plants help retain symbiotic relationships with the wildlife that evolved to depend on them
*Below are a couple video selections with soil scientists on the benefits of sustainable and wholistic gardening....