Scary Word

As gardeners, we need to begin to consider what we plant & where we plant it.

We need to think of the consequences of our actions – did the spray you put on your roses kill some honeybees or other flying critters that are pollinators?

Is the systemic pesticide you are putting in the soil or on your plants killing caterpillars that would have turned into beautiful butterflies? Or is it poisoning the fruits that the birds are eating? Or is it killing other critters that birds need for food to feed themselves & their young? Is it killing bees? It has happened, you know, over 50,000 bumblebees were killed in the northwest as a result.

What do you know about systemic pesticides? They kill insects – right? Most last around 90 days but some have longer lives. So when a bee visits your lovely flower, it partakes of death. Who’s going to pollinate the plants when the bees are gone?

Do you think about what you are planting – what effect it has on the environment….or do you plant it because it’s ‘pretty’? Here is Arkansas we are being overrun by the progeny of Bradford pears. What a job the media & landscapers have done in convincing us that Bradford pears are a must have plant. It is really a very poor landscape specimen – weak wood & very susceptible to breakage – but that’s not the worst of it – they are spreading all over the state. The results are a thorny tree that is displacing natives. It is dangerous to get near or attempt to remove – I found one growing on my property not long ago & had my grandson cut it down – one of these thorns went through his boot.

Dr. Douglas Tallamy, chair of the Entomology Dept at the University of Delaware has written a fascinating book – Bringing Nature Home. Dr. Tallamy explains how important insects are in the diets of birds, especially young birds in the nest. Nearly all of the terrestrial bird species in North America reply on insects & spiders to feed their young. It takes plant eating insects to pass on the energy held in plants. Native insects can’t just eat any old plant – they primarily eat plants that have evolved with them & so you don’t find many insects on Chinese privet or Norway maple or Crepe Myrtle or Bradford pear etc.