While I still appreciate native species and have even used native honeysuckle colors on my newly painted house (there’s no simply way to decorate than to work from nature: soft or vibrant, subtle or stunning color schemes are readily accessible). But since writing the paean below I have learned that they can be overwhelming, too. Not the way invasive species are overwhelming – where you watch them grow and fear for your life and house foundations. But once a native plant is really at home and happy you may find yourself pulling out a once treasured plant, like wild ginger, in an attempt to maintain space for something else you love, like the gorgeous magenta and cream striped ferns from Japan that I just discovered, still alive and even spreading very gradually, under a profusion of hostas and in the midst of the ginger. I no longer feel at all guilty about my plants from around the world – in fact, after visiting Innisfree Garden again and looking at Chinese garden photos, I’m thinking of planting a non-invasive bamboo.
August 2006: This is an odd post to write from Beijing, but I took this photo some weeks ago and have been wanting to tell you about a wonderful result of planting native species: a great increase in insects, including butterflies of different types. And because we now have two types of milkweed, we have been enjoying visits from monarch butterflies. Double-click the photo