Native Plants Are Anything But Boring!

Recently I was standing in the backyard of someone who had asked me to consult on how to establish more native species in their yard and was completely caught off guard when they said, "I don't want too many natives, because I find them boring."  It was like someone telling me the sky is yellow, it's just not a true statement, but it reminded me that there is a common myth out there, perpetuated by big gardening magazines and garden advertising, that native plants are something you plant to "help the bees" but if you want a beautiful garden, you must look to exotic and cultivar species.  

I would invite you to take a chance on a few native species if you relate to my client, and after a few years of establishment, I bet you won't feel the same way.  What happened to me is that over time, I became so enthralled with native species, their innate beauty, and the interesting wildlife they attract that I ended up trading out the remaining non-native species with native ones.  Sure, there are plants selected and cultivated for their showy color or blooms, but they often don't attract wildlife or support pollinators in the same way, if at all, so to me it detracts from their beauty.  If there are exotic species or cultivars that you love, I'm not saying to part ways with them, but don't be fooled by the myth that native species are any less beautiful.  Take this evergreen huckleberry in the first photo with new burgundy growth against the backdrop of the yellowing California hazelnut, which, by the way, will be blooming in a couple of months' time.  The second photo reveals how beautiful the red-twigs of Cornus sericea are during the fall and winter months.  These natives are no less beautiful than any cultivar, and knowing the value they bring to the environment and ecosystem around our yard only magnifies their beauty even more!