I recently read an article in the Boston Globe that made me rethink the idea of excluding exotic plants from the landscape and choosing only native plants.
Leon Neyfakh, the author of the Globe article “The Invasive Species War”, uses the analogy of war to illustrate the level of disagreement among environmentalists and horticulturalists. He even employs the argument that exluding non-native plants is like telling people who were not born in the US to go home.
I must say the article struck a bell.
When in the 1840s English plant collector Robert Fortune (1812-1880) traveled to China to hunt for tea and other plants to send home to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, he came upon a plant that the Chinese revered and which he subsequently called Weigela. Today it is a mainstay for the American garden.
Philadelphia neweryman Thomas Meehan wrote in his 1872 edtion of his Gardener’s Monthly that the Weigela was among the most important evergreens and shrubs for the landscape.
Though the Weigela is not native, we love it. Proven Winners has come out with newer varieties in the past few years, including Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’. There is renewed interest in the plant.
We should not be too quick to exclude all exotic plants. Many have found a happy home here in America.