Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seven Billion And Counting

Over the last ten years I have had some funny looks, sneers, and laughs about some of the plants and trees I grow at the nursery. As a person dedicated to primarily growing native plants and trees some things I have chosen to grow and offer are not commonly seen at many nurseries or garden centers. That said there are reasons I grow certain things, one I do want to grow plants and trees that will sell! Two I try to offer something that will be good for the buyer and, three something that I can have a clear conscious over and get a good night sleep after I send that plant home with someone. An estimate by the World Bank said we now have 7 billion people on this planet. Now I did not write this to get you to believe in climate change or global warming. But I do know one thing. The people in this world may not want some things we all have but they do want and need water and we just have so much fresh water for all of us. We have been blessed in North Carolina for the most part in my lifetime with ample water. But the years of 2000-2001 and 2006-2007 when we had drought years made me rethink some things. The southwestern United States, parts of the Midwest and even the southeast have had severe droughts of late. This all going on while many here have irrigation systems just to water their lawn grass so they can mow it. I can understand why you water the prize Rhododendron or Japanese Maple, but watering fescue or bermuda grass so it will grow and you can spend valuable time mowing it is a little insane isn't it?
Water may be all around us in the eastern United States but we dont have the infrastructures in place or the will to pay for it to keep up some of this water use long term. We will have droughts. Native plants are better suited for extremes in weather. And they offer benefits to native wildlife as well. The Opuntia or Prickly Pear in the picture may seem odd but it is native to the southeast, it and its relatives of the cactus family are champions of drought tolerance. And many of them are extremely cold hardy, they have beautiful blooms and are not boring, they do need good drainage. We should continue to plant trees but many will not and with more people scaling down they dont have a place to plant a nice shade tree. So if not then think of things like Prickly Pear and native warm season grasses, and other drought tolerant native perennials and shrubs. In the picture you see one culinary use of Prickly Pear. That I will try to touch on at a later date. We have to be smarter about landscaping and stop thinking we have an endless supply of water, because we dont have it. And consider what other uses a plant can offer us in the landscape. The jelly of Prickly Pear is great. We are growing several winter hardy species that have edible fruit. Other native plants have multi uses as well. We should explore them more.

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