While I can’t say I always enjoy gardening, I can say I enjoy being in a beautiful garden. At
our current home (in Tennessee), the previous owners seemed to think we live in the southeast – OF ASIA! The Lagerstroemia indica (crepe myrtle), that the previous owner aggressively pruned into a neither tree nor shrub-like form, has a bird nest in it (Turdus migratorius – American robin) so I will let them go a while. The Nandina domestica (shrub things) will be gone soon, but before I remove them there is the little matter of a
hundred or so linear feet of Liriope muscari (monkey grass) that has got to go. The Liriope is anchored to the earth by a formidable, impervious root system. To make matters worse the previous owners seemed to think a layer black plastic 4-6″ below the surface was a good idea. IT IS NOT! Where the Liriope has penetrated below the plastic it makes abundant little root/bulblet structures that promise if I don’t get them all I will still have Liriope to deal with later.
So, I dig up as small of chunks of Liriope as I can – these typically weigh between 50 and 100 lbs. I then proceed to separate the soil and black plastic from the roots and then go back through the soil to make certain all bulblets are removed. It is a slow tedious process, but I will prevail!
While undoing the previous landscaping is a lot of work, I am looking forward to the native plants that will soon grace the front
of our home. Some beds will be full sun and have prairie/glade plants like Rudbeckia and Echinacea. Some will be more like shady forest understory with Lobelia and Phlox. All beds will support more wildlife than the current landscaping and will reflect where we live in beautiful northwest Tennessee.
It isn’t that I hate southeast Asia, but I would like our home to reflect the beauty of where we live. Based on my experience, gardening with natives is slightly more difficult than garden with slightly invasive species from southeast Asia (or elsewhere). The reward comes from when a rare butterfly or cool longhorned beetle shows up in your yard. North American wildlife is in trouble, and native plants are the beginning of making things better. Doug Tallamy’s book: Bringing Nature Home presents a complete argument for native gardening. So pick up a shovel and replace one invasive plant with a native this summer! Be the change you want to see.