Plant Your Indigenous Garden
Listen to this article in Zulu:
Celebrate South African flora (and help our fauna).
the true benefits of planting an indigenous garden.
“If nothing is eating your garden, it’s not part of the eco-system.
Then it’s just a vanity project…”
It’s a tricky balance to be a gardener in these times of eco-conscious overload. There are so many trends cropping up about how to be a better custodian of nature.
One trend that is actually worth investigating, however, is the indigenous planting trend.
Let’s look at the facts:
Indigenous plants, having evolved locally over hundreds of years, need much fewer extra inputs to thrive in South African gardens
This means less watering, but also less fertilizer, pesticides and plant food. Although you might think that your garden isn’t doing any harm, it’s a proven fact that these harmful chemicals make their way into groundwater and soil, saturating our natural world with unnatural substances.
Indigenous plants improve, support and maintain biodiversity.
Indigenous plants create a true circle of life. If you have been a fierce guardian of your violets, declaring war on all that creeps and nibbles, going indigenous will be an adjustment.
But think of it this way – if you leave the snails and don’t poison the birds by spraying pesticide around like cologne, pretty soon you’ll have your very own local team of pest controllers flapping about.
It may take a season or two for this cycle to rebalance itself after years of human interference, but it will happen, and you will see a difference in your garden’s inhabitants.
This also goes for the aphids on your roses. If you keep poisoning them (and everything else) the predatory beetles that feast on them, never get a chance to establish sustainable colonies.
But you know what’s better than hoping birds and beetles save your violets and roses?
Not planting them at all and opting for wild iris or other local flowering plants instead.
According to Grow Wild, ( https://growwild.co.za/ ):
“South Africa is home to more than 26 000 indigenous flowering plants from almost 230 different families. It is also the proud home of 10% of the world’s flowering species, making it a major contributor to the global ecological scene.”
Love animals? Indigenous or so-called “wildlife gardens” are a sure-fire way to save them.
Yes, you might not get an Aardvark or Eagle Owl in your backyard in suburban Douglasdale, but the small creatures that do end up living and thriving in your new, indigenous (and poison-free) garden become an important part of the greater wildlife food chain, helping species that would otherwise suffer due to urbanization, survive.
“In our increasingly urbanized world, much of the threat to our native wildlife is through loss of habitat due to clearing for urban development or agriculture. This can be seen as a “death threat” for our native bushland, which has become increasingly fragmented as a result.”
The benefits of planting indigenous plants are multiple and (once you think about it) obvious. The drawbacks are minimal.
You might associate perfectly flowering roses or daffodils with a well-kept garden, but never forget that these plants are in fact aliens…And who wants aliens in your backyard?