Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Growing Native

My yard is a riot of wildflowers right now, as it is every spring. Desert bluebells, lupines, desert marigolds, penstemons, evening primrose, fiddlenecks and popcorn flower, to name a few, have created a carpet over the gravel mulch that comprises the foundation of our xeriscape. Any day now I expect to receive our annual "nastygram" from the Homeowner's Association requesting us to remove our "weeds."

But I won't. To me, they are not weeds. I sowed the seed. I dug the holes to plant those that arrived in pots. They belong here more than I do.

As retribution for the 500 square feet of artificial turf and pavers that we have installed in the back yard (see January 31st blog), I've set aside the rest of the yard as a refuge for mostly native plants. By this I mean that, of the 80+ species that we've established in our yard over the past six years, about 90% of them are native to the southwest deserts of North America. Of those, about 90% are native to the Sonoran desert in the Phoenix area. This menagerie includes 6 kinds of trees, 17 species of shrubs, 17 types of cacti and other succulents, 3 species of vine, 4 species of native grasses (plus a few escaped remnants of my former Bermuda grass lawn), plus 26 different perennial and annual wildflowers.

This is appalling to many of our neighbors, who prefer a more tidy landscaping style of carefully clipped shrubs and pulverized granite that is annually hosed with herbicides to prevent the growth of seeds that blow over from my yard. The payback for my indiscretion is that they have recently installed an incessantly barking Jack Russell terrier in their backyard. That's okay. I'm still going to let my plants go to seed.

Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Brazil have contributed many of the popular species of plants that populate the neighborhood. But if the drip irrigation ever dries up, my yard will be a seed source to restore the neighborhood to something that resembles the former desert habitat.

Are you growing native?


Amber said...

It's beautiful! I would love to say that we are full of native plants in our yard, but I have no idea what they are or what they should be :-)

I'll get there...

Allan Stellar said...

Much better! I was beginning to worry about you after all the enthusiasm for the "Turf". :)

Hopefully you will start a trend in your neighborhood, and soon, every yard will be as beautiful and colorful as yours!