Show Notes

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Today, I weigh the pros and cons of native plants and exotic plants for your landscape and gardens.  Does all this even matter for your landscape?  Listen in to figure out where you stand and whether it can help you save time in your landscape.

Natives & Exotics

  • Wide array of opinions – emotion, ecology, sensation, experience
  • Why important? What is context?
    • Environmental
      • Plants
      • Insects
    • Historical
      • Exotic = refined
    • Emotional
      • Native = normal, plain
  • What is a native?
    • Many definitions
    • Generally considered plants that existed in ecosystem in 1491
  • Exotics
    • Advantages
      • Beauty
      • Diversity
      • More variety
      • Exotic
    • Disadvantages
      • Potentially harmful
      • Less ecosystem benefit
      • May require more maintenance
  • Natives
    • Advantages
      • Resilience
      • Beauty
      • Regional/Local Character – sense of place
      • Habitat
    • Disadvantages
      • Can feel plain/normal
      • Less variety
  • My personal take
    • Natives first, but not exclusive
      • Enhance landscape with habitat and beauty
      • Pollinator benefit
      • Hardy, appropriate
    • Non-aggressive & dispersive exotics
      • Time-tested
      • Non-dispersive
      • hardy
    • Planting something is better than nothing
      • Exotics can provide benefits, with caution
    • Do not use invasive/dispersive/suppresive plants
  • Your personal take
    • What do you value?
    • What type of design style do you prefer?
    • Can native plants provide a desired outcome
    • Does more knowledge help?
  • Native plants podcast
  • Nurseries

Links for today’s episode:

this is the aesthetic ecosystems podcast

I’m Ben Hale your virtual design guide

to help you and your family have a

healthy beautiful landscape with less

work what’s up and welcome to episode 17

of the aesthetic ecosystems podcast I’m

so glad you guys are here today to talk

about natives and exotics that’s right

in the especially in the more naturally

minded or ecologically minded space this

is a very hot and heavy topic and it’s

starting to percolate into landscape

design as well and maybe this is

something you’re interested in and

trying to understand what do native

plants have to offer and and why is the

whole natives and exotics thing such a

big deal to some people anyway so we’re

gonna kind of dig into that today and

try to understand a bit more about it

and also what it means to you in your

landscape before we do that though I

just wanted to share a little snippet I

know last episode there was there was a

little bit of background noise and stuff

and and here’s just kind of a fun tidbit

for you guys I’m I actually my recording

studio my high-tech recording studio for

this podcast is the best quiet

environment I can find away from work

away from home where you know it’s it’s

actually kind of pretty noisy at home

usually with our little guys running

around and stuff and there’s there’s not

very many private spaces for me to

record this podcast I don’t have things

set up where I have you know an office

space yet or anything for my business

it’s it’s mostly a digital business so I

can run most of the business from my

home but with this being a new podcast

you know this is kind of a throws a

little bit of a wrench in to think so

what I do is I actually record this

podcast in my car that I use to commute

to work every day so there’s there’s a

funny little tidbit about this podcast

for you is this is a a car recorded

podcast they ought to Auto podcast I

guess so don’t worry though I’m

stationary in the vehicle I’m not

driving somewhere right now

so I can give full focus and attention

on the podcast but what I do is I

actually usually I’m actually sitting in

the parking lot at my my full-time day

job and there’s a there’s a beautiful

view there so here you can keep your car

going by right now through the park

parking lot and it’s a little weird I

get some funny looks sometimes but I’m

glad you guys enjoy listening to me

maybe my coworkers don’t find this

situation quite as appealing but it’s a

beautiful view outside and and I get to

you know watch the birds fly by and the

wind blow through the plants and stuff

as as I record this podcast so it makes

it quite an enjoyable experience as

opposed to maybe a less enjoyable

experience hidden in some boxed-in

office or something so anyway with that

what I wanted to say is is that

especially with the weather warming up

and you know this car is like a sauna

and so I’ve been cracking the windows up

and at the windows enjoying the breeze

but unfortunately with that there’s some

more noise that happens too so so last

episode I actually had to pause the

recording a couple times because this

helicopter kept flying over and there

was no way I could record with this this

noisy helicopter coming over so I guess

with the warmer weather I’ll be dealing

with that more it was quite comfortable

in the cooler times when the Sun you

know was shining enough on the vehicle

enough to keep it nice and nice and

comfortable inside but now it’s it’s not

so comfortable so anyway enough about

that you know you got your laughs for

today I’m I’m quite comfortable with a

little bit of self-deprecating humor in

order to make people’s days more

enjoyable so you’re welcome all right so

natives and exotics really with with

natives and exotics so what we’re

talking about here is is plants that are

generally considered indigenous or

native to a certain space and and for

the sake of this podcast I’m gonna be

talking about North American natives

primarily in the continental US is what

I’m talking about there’s a lot of

carryover you know if you know into

Canada and even into Mexico with plants

that are native in

the US and actually there’s certain

plants too that are globally relevant

but for the sake of this podcast we’re

going to be talking primarily about

continental US plants when I’m referring

to natives and for those of you that

listen internationally the same

principles apply here and you can kind

of ask yourself the same stuff for for

your region that you live in as well and

and what this means to you so when it

comes to natives there is a huge wide

array of opinions about this whether or

not natives are important especially in

landscape design whether it’s okay to

use exotics in your design and what

types of exotic plants you can use so

exotic means that they’re not

necessarily considered native to your

area so they might be from another

continent or another region or across a

mountain range or something like that

and so what’s native to Ohio where I

live might not be considered native to

southern Texas or to California and

sometimes for good reasons sometimes

just due to geographical separation so

there’s a lot of levels to this whole

debate and we’re not going to get into

that deep stuff and to talk about

semantics if you’re interested I will

provide some other resource for you as


at the end of the show but you know what

ties into these opinions is a lot of

emotion for one but also a lot of

ecology and environmental understanding

a lot of sensation as well and I’ll also

just experience with certain things in

the past so there have been plants and

Pat in the past we’re gonna focus on

plants here there’s a ton of other you

know ignatiev and exotic debates as well

with insects and and that sort of thing

but here we’re just talking about the

plants and experience with invasive

species right you may have heard that

term and what does that term mean so

that’s kind of where all these opinions

come from when we’re talking about

natives and you may be wondering why is

this important or is is it important

right and and what is the context around

this so as far as the context importance

I guess to step back import

I’m actually gonna leave this up to you

guys the listener you know for you

personally I’m not the one to judge

whether or not this is important to you

instead I just want to inform you of the

background here and to leave you up to

make your own conclusion also share what

my thoughts are towards the end of the

show as well in case you want them but

but really this boils down to what’s

important to you but for the general

trend here I guess of of natives and

exotics or whatever the general

perspective here is that what’s the

context so let’s kind of get into the

context as opposed to questioning

whether or not it’s important leave that

towards the end of the show so from an

environmental standpoint there’s a lot

of context that goes into influencing

whether natives or exotics are preferred

or important and one is their their

relationship with other plants how do

they interact with other plants in the

native landscape so or the that I guess

the wild landscape is a better term for

it so the un– I guess uncultured

landscape or the the non design

landscape how do how – how does your

plant that you’re considering interact

with that whether it’s a native you know

a so-called native or an exotic plant

and that’s important likewise how does

it interact with the insects or the soil

microbiology of your area there there’s

a lot of interaction between insects and

other animals birds for example it’s

very important to consider that as well

because when you’re dealing with certain

plants they attract certain insects or

or birds that may be native to your

region whereas exotics may not and so

understanding that can influence your

designs there’s also a lot of historical

context here so generally speaking in

the past up till the recent past and

even now I would say – not this isn’t an

absent feeling but but that exotic kind

of means a more refined taste right if

you have access to something exotic you

have access to something that

is different as unique and comes from

far away so it’s it’s cooler right it

has the coolness effect I guess is the

this is a good way to say it and and

likewise there’s also some emotional

context as well for example native can

mean that it’s you know you have

something that’s kind of plain or normal

and it’s not as exciting potentially so

there’s a lot of a lot of factors that

go into why we have this appeal to

native landscapes or we have this appeal

to exotic landscapes and what goes into

feeding that that feeling or belief or a

tendency and it kind of goes both ways

as well there’s also principles that

people have that that you know determine

what kind of plants they prefer as well

so there’s just I just want to point out

there’s a lot of context behind this and

and I want us to kind of all try and

shed that context as we have this

discussion just to kind of have a more

unbiased perspective going in or maybe

you’ve you know maybe your perspective

is from from other people or hearing

other things and I want us to really

take a step back and just try and

understand things a bit more before we

kind of go in further so of course

before we really have a discussion about

characteristics of exotic plants and

characteristics of native plants we have

to define what what is native what does

that actually mean right if you take for

example Native Americans right people

some people prefer different terms for

the for the the local indigenous

population that lived here in the United

States before 1492 and and whether or

not a certain term is the right term and

also what that term relates to is it the

the the people that lived here in 1491

and earlier or is it the people that

lived from say the your you know the

year 1000 up to 1491 and or is it the

people that lived from 1492 up to now

present time so there’s a lot of context

for example in that

discussion that determines you know that

changes with definition based on the

discussion you’re having and so likewise

with natives as well when we’re talking

about plants and for the sake of this

discussion I will say there’s there are

tons and tons of definitions here and

and tons of varying opinion some people

consider for example the gingko tree you

may have heard about gingko in say your

energy drinks that you might hear of or

imbibe yourself but a gingko is it was

native to a I guess locally populated

and across much of the u.s. in

prehistoric times but that was a

significant time period ago you know and

now it’s not considered I guess locally

indigenous is a term all use and so does

that mean it’s a native or not and

depending upon the person you talk to

they will agree or disagree whether or

not that’s considered a native so for

the context here in today’s show what

I’m going to do is is it’s kind of the

mainstream opinion is that native plants

for the sake of this discussion our

plants that existed in the ecosystem

within the continental US in the year

fourteen ninety one and so if you think

about 1491 why I’ve brought up that date

a couple times is in 1492 Columbus

sailed the ocean blue that’s basically a

member of US history class so don’t ask

me to quote anything else but but that

little rhyme reminds us that that’s when

European settlers first started

discovering and settling the United

States region and that with that came a

lot of changes in the the population

here in the United States as well as the

landscape and the ecosystems and so one

of those changes was was native plants

and and also just plants in general so

for example there’s a common weed across

the eastern United States called

plantain not to be confused with the


thing from more southerly regions but

plantain is actually a it’s a it’s a

small herbaceous read that is a

perennial so it comes back after a

couple years and this this weed or what

people call a weed generally speaking at

the time was actually dubbed white man’s

footprint by a Native Americans because

it wherever the European settlers kind

of disrupted the ecosystem by clearing

the place out for farmland and for for

housing and that sort of thing these

little plants would pop up everywhere

well these little plants the plantain

plants they’re native to Europe not to

United States and so it’s just an

example that things really change

significantly after that date and so

what’s considered native to a lot of

people is considered what was here in

the United States before European

settlement okay so we could go on

actually for hours and hours and hours

about a lot of this stuff and to be

honest I actually don’t enjoy all those

conversations because like I said

earlier there’s a lot of emotion and

sensation into it I like to prefer to

look at things from a more contextual

standpoint of the ecology in the science

or just facts and and also plant

relationships there’s a lot that’s known

but also a lot that’s unknown about

plant or relationships and how do

certain plants affect those

relationships and so that’s for another

time today I just kind of want to give

us a an overview of this whole natives

and exotic plant things and what it

means to you so now that we’ve got that

clear in and just for anybody out there

who has a different opinion that’s

totally fine that’s just for the sake of

this discussion today and so if you have

other opinions to share about this show

or other thoughts to share about this

show head on over to aesthetic

ecosystems calm slash episode 17 so

episode one seven and that’ll take you

to the webpage for this show and and

leave a comment in the comment section

let’s have a discussion about this let’s

have an open discussion about this and

try and you know stay past the emotional

piece or the sensational piece and just

trying to have a pragmatic discussion

and let’s acknowledge to that there are

a wide variety of opinions here and

that’s okay with any sort of issues is

that it’s okay to have various opinions

and to respect other people’s opinions

about it too so for the sake of this

show let’s just go with that definition

and and move forward into understanding

more about these plants okay so what I’m

gonna do now is talk about the advantage

and disadvantages of exotic plants what

they have to offer and then follow up

with advantages and disadvantages of

native plants and then we’ll kind of

wrap up the show after that with a

another follow-up which is my personal

take or my personal view and then trying

to help you understand what’s your

personal take on all this what how do

you feel about this and then how can it

influence your your landscape design

processes and and how does this all

influence what you want with a

low-maintenance landscape that’s

actually really important too so that’s

kind of how we’re gonna go through the

rest of this show so exotic plants what

are the advantages that exotic plants

have to offer why you know why do why

isn’t everybody just sit like natives

only person right what what makes people

want to use exotic plants in the

landscape so first and foremost a lot of

exotic plants offer a lot of beauty you

know they there’s plants from all over

the world that’s the advantage of a

global society right we we’ve discovered

all these different regions and pockets

of the world and and with that we found

all these different beautiful plants

that we can bring into our landscape and

and enjoy the beauty of these plants

within our own backyard and and that’s

one of the big things for exotics is

they we’ve we’ve selected certain and

not me personally but we as a as a

species that guess as humans have

selected these different plants and

sometimes also selectively bred these

plants to have certain characteristics

that we find appealing

in our landscapes and that’s why they’re

there so that’s the first big thing

it’s a really big thing secondly there’s

a huge diversity of selection exotic

plants you know there’s all different

varieties different types from all over

the world and also adapted to a wide

variety of different soil types and just

ecosystems in general and bringing those

into our landscapes give us a wider

palette of selection so so that’s

something to be said as well there’s

more variety with that diversity piece

you know you have a lot more variety to

choose from and so much sometimes that

it can be overwhelming like totally

overwhelming right and even just within

one species of plant one type of plant

you have all these different varieties

potentially that have been selectively

bred for size for shape for color for

balloon color for bloom timing I just

take the apple tree for example as an

example with the edible that first of

all that’s considered a non-native plant

it’s native to you know the the middle

eastern regions and and like Western

Asia as well and but the apple tree has

been with humans for for ages and ages

and throughout that there’s thousands of

varieties of different types of apples

that you can select for and each each

variety has its own unique

characteristics and so the same goes for

a lot of these different plants with

exotic plants especially because there’s

just so many of them and in the last

piece in the name itself they’re exotic

they’re different they’re they’re from

another place and sometimes you know

people want that something that that

feels so foreign but we can bring it

into our landscape it kind of has a

sense of convenience or even power or or

just uniqueness you know it’s the whole

feel of having something exotic in your

own landscape so those are all

advantages that come into the having an

exotic plant in your landscape now let’s

talk about some of the disadvantages so

with exotic plants that can be

potentially harmful for our local

landscapes for one they have they can

have a tendency to take over sometimes

or to bring various diseases into the


or to impact the local native

populations of different insects or

animals and so these are all things you

have to consider when you’re actually

considering a native or excuse me an

exotic plant so it’s really good if

you’re choosing you know an exotic plant

to consider whether or not it has any of

these known negative effects sometimes

there’s effects that we might not even

know which a lot of times with these

plants we bring these plants into our

landscapes and we find out later that

there’s a whole the whole sudden there’s

this trend of this one plant that was

thought to be good you know so called

good or okay to have in the landscape it

has some sort of unexpected negative

effects and so there’s always risk or a

chance that an exotic plant could be

potentially harmful to your local

ecosystem and so it’s just something to

keep in mind and it’s in the next piece

to is that in generally or in general

exotic plants have less of an ecosystem

benefit so this is if this is something

that matters to you that’s something

important to consider so what I mean

here is that when when we have an exotic

plant its native to somewhere else right

it came from somewhere else let’s say

there’s a plant that is originally from

from Japan right

so that plant has evolved over thousands

upon thousands of years with that local

ecosystem so there’s certain bacteria

and fungi and and crustaceans and

insects that developed in symbiotic

relationships potentially or competitive

relationships with that plant to either

help it or to keep it in check from

being able to spread widely and and

similarly it also evolved with other

plants that may have a beneficial effect

or a competitive effect with that plant

and so when you remove that singular

plant from its it’s developed landscape

you risk putting it in place where it

has less of a benefit

on the local population of plants of

microbes of insects of birds and of all

various other creatures so I think you

understand what I’m trying to say there

is is that there’s it’s kind of like

taking a piece out of a puzzle and

trying to fit it into another puzzle

somewhat so there’s sometimes you know

that there’s sometimes services and

benefits that the plant can provide in a

new ecosystem if there’s a very similar

plant that already exists in the space

but there’s always that risk of it

doesn’t have a positive impact on the

landscape as much as it did say where it

came from and like wise the plant may

require more maintenance to either keep

it having the right amount of fertility

it needs or to keep pests at bay because

it’s less well adapted to the pests in

the new space or to keep it in check

from either spreading or growing

profusely these are all things that you

know may be required with your exotic

plant so just things to consider there

okay enough said about exotics now let’s

move on to natives and trying to

understand what are the advantages of

natives and what are the disadvantages

of natives so the first thing is in

general these are all broad

generalizations right so in general with

native plants the first thing you get is

resilience so native plants assuming

that it’s actually locally indigenous to

your local area native plants are

generally better adapted to the region

so this means the the weather extremes

the weather anomalies the local soils

the local plants competition and animal

and insect competition the any symbiotic

relationships that may exist with any

animals or soil microbes as well so all

of these things bundled together

generally lead to more resilience of the

plant that you’re considering when it’s

a native this is not always true but

that’s generally more the case than with

exotics another advantage is you you do

have beauty with naked

of plants so I think a lot of times

native plants get a bad rap for just

being kind of ugly or be you know

grasses but look at the success of the

purple coneflower you may have the

purple coneflower in your landscape

already but this is a plant that’s

native to the north american prairie and

here it is now in tons of landscapes

within the past you know 15 to 20 years

it’s become incredibly popular to where

most people’s landscapes now have purple

coneflower in their landscape and it’s a

beautiful plant and it’s very well

adapted to the space and so it does

incredibly well just taking care of

itself which is again what we’re looking

for here with with low-maintenance

landscapes so sometimes natives have

beauty and they also have the resilience

that that is a huge advantage

so next native plants hat here’s another

car coming by with my parking lot

podcasts so you’re welcome for the

beautiful background soundtrack

hopefully we get a few birds in here I

think there was a there was a kill deer

here earlier I don’t know if you heard

it chirping outside the car but it was

kind of chilling out listening to the

podcast with you guys so yeah we get

Birds listening to that’s pretty cool

anyway so back to natives is another

advantage of natives is you get regional

and local character you get a sense of

place and this is a huge thing with

design whether it’s architecture or

whether it’s interior design or

landscape design sense of place or sense

of self is very important and then

likewise natives can really provide a

sense of local adaptation right a sense

of local place so it makes it’s what

makes you know Ohio different than

southern Texas to use the previous

example what makes southern Texas

different than then the coastal

California right these are all very

different places and so kind of

embracing embracing and and what am I

trying to say here so like yeah

embracing that local feel and and

promoting it right showcasing it that’s

the word I think I was looking for

showcasing that local sense of place and

how we are different than other regions

and welcome to our region this is what

we have to offer this is what our plants

have to offer so that is a you know a

big thing for natives is that regional

and local character if it’s properly

designed in a beautiful way right taking

the best pieces of the native local

landscape and using it in a way that’s

structurally and visually appealing and

and and showcasing it to the rest of the


that’s really cool the next piece

advantage of natives and this isn’t

important to everyone but it’s a very

important to several peat and you know

to many people and that’s habitat so not

only does your plant look beautiful or

your plants or your landscape look

beautiful but it also provides a healthy

habitat for not just your family but for

the local populations of of animals and

and creatures that come through your

landscape and makes them want to come

through your landscape in a way that’s

healthy and beneficial as opposed to

being a nuisance and so providing good

habitat is very important to some people

and and even if it’s not important to

you maybe it’s something you’re

indifferent to and that’s it might be a

good thing so a lot of times native

plants are generally better adapted at

providing good habitat for the local

native creatures as opposed to exotic

plants and so that’s something that is a

huge advantage for native plants so

let’s talk about the potential

disadvantages of natives so when it

comes to native plants the primary

disadvantages I can think of for one a

lot of people can potentially find them

native plants as being kind of plain or

normal you know it doesn’t feel unique

or exotic or different right and so so

for a lot of people with their design

that’s what they want and so there’s

kind of two things here one is maybe

exotics you know are something that you

really do want to have or it’s maybe a

lack of understanding of what natives

are available in and to be clear there

haven’t been a huge amount of native

plants cultivated and and propagated for

through nurseries for sale you know

there’s there’s whole you know kind of

demand and supply thing there’s not a

huge demand for them and so there’s not

a huge supply for them

so nurseries aren’t you know propagating

these plants and selling them to people

because people aren’t asking for them

and wanting to find them and so

sometimes it’s just a lack of

availability and lack of knowledge of

what’s available to even want something

that’s native and so there’s this

greater availability of these exotic

plants so the next thing is is that

there’s generally speaking I mean

there’s a lot less variety to native

plants right you’ve restricted instead

of saying the whole world

I want plants from the whole world

you’re saying I want plants from my

region or my country or you know my

continent right and so when you kind of

you know that kind of secludes over

excludes a lot of plants from your

selection process maybe that’s a good

thing you know maybe you’re overwhelmed

with with the variety of selection and

so sometimes making that choice can be

helpful but a lot of times it’s also

people can consider it a disadvantage

you know you have less to select from

especially if if nurseries aren’t able

to propagate and sell it and make it

available it can be a challenge so

that’s some disadvantage okay now that

we kind of talked about of you know the

pluses and minuses of different natives

and exotics what I want to segue into is

is how I personally feel about this

whole process and it may have come out a

little bit already I’ve been trying to

you know be as unbiased as possible in

my discussion here but I’m sure you want

to understand how do I feel about this

and then I also want to help you

understand how you might feel about it

or how you might change your perspective

on this as well and and yeah just kind

of help us all have a perspective on

this whole thing to begin with so my

personal take is in general I prefer to

select natives first and again this is a

you know talking from the whole 1491

perspective what what existed here then

and and if there there’s plants that can

fit that bill then I would prefer to use

something that’s locally adapted as

opposed to something that I’m not sure

if it’s locally adapted and resilient to

all sorts of

changes and extremes and that sort of

thing so I generally prefer natives

first but not exclusively okay I am

willing to acknowledge that a certain

exotic plants can actually be for one

very beautiful and very desirable but

also they can actually be in a way that

can be naturalized or adapted or or

resilient in the local landscape and and

of course using I prefer using exotics

with caution you know choosing from

exotics that have been here a long time

and that have been proven to to not

overtake native landscapes or or to not

escape into the wild out of the garden

and and cause problems elsewhere and

there’s plenty of examples of how that’s

happened here in the United States so

when it comes to my my viewpoints here I

like to enhance the landscape with

habitat and beauty and so like I was

talking with the huge advantages of

natives is that natives are better at

providing good habitat for local

populations of insects and animals and

just creatures in general so so of

course that’s going to be one of my

first selections likewise I like to

provide a benefit to local pollinators

okay and so with this having blooms that

happen throughout the year throughout

the growing season and also having

locations for insects to be able to

overwinter and to have sources of not

only nectar but but other food sources

that certain insects need so so I guess

when I’m saying pollinator benefit I’ll

also mean just beneficial insects in

general and so having good habitat for

local insects is a better way to say

that and there’s a lot that goes into


but again natives generally provide a

better source a better home for for

these types of creatures and and last

piece that I really like about natives

is that they’re generally speaking

they’re more Hardy and they’re more

appropriate for the space because

they’re better adapted they’re able to

weather more extremes in

in conditions and and for that reason I

just like them from their low

maintenance standpoint if they’re

designed in properly they’re generally

better from that standpoint they’re more

resilient and they’re more able to

withhold I guess in a way neglect right

that’s kind of what Lou mean his

landscaping is is not being able to have

to sit there and take care of it and and

prune it and trim it and water it every

day and and so you know you kind of see

the example of somebody in a greenhouse

at a conservatory and trying to take

care of a little you know exotic plant

and then you outside you have these like

crazy weeds you know that some people

call them but you know locally adapted

plants that can just weather all sorts

of extremes and so that’s part of why I

like my native plants now with that said

I do have exotics growing in our

landscape and and that’s okay right the

again I try and filter them through

which are the ones that are not

considered aggressive and dispersive or

some people would say invasive

I generally shy away from that term but

that’s just my own personal preference

because I I think it’s putting kind of

almost like a human emotion on plants

that that you know we brought the plants

here they didn’t they didn’t come here

and they’re just filling a niche or a

habitat that maybe needs to be filled

but I again that’s a huge debate that I

don’t mean to upset anybody here but but

in general I prefer non aggressive or

dispersive or expansive plants and so

the way we figure this out is is what

exotic plants have been here for for a

long time what plants have been here for

say over a hundred years and have we

really shown that they don’t really try

and jump out of the garden and cause a

bunch of problems right a good example

of how this did not happen is the a lot

of pear trees are used in the eastern US

as ornamentals and I’m actually looking

at several right now that are are

planted on my landscape that I’m looking

at right now

and they’re in bloom right now and

they’re beautiful trees they have a

beautiful shape they have beautiful

flowers in the spring but also I’m

staring at a more naturalized space and

there’s several pear trees growing in

the road ditch just by themselves

because they’ve become expansive and

dispersive where they’re they’re spread

their seeds are spread by birds after

they eat the seeds and they grow up in

these and these rough areas and they

kind of take over the local native

populations and that’s a big problem

so trying to select exotics that are non

aggressive or dispersive or expansive is

very important and likewise selecting

exotics that are Hardy again we’re

looking for landscapes that save us time

and so selecting something that’s going

to take a ton of work even if it’s

beautiful just to me doesn’t make sense

and so if that’s a goal for you I’m

guessing that is if you’re listening to

this podcast that you’d like to save

time on your landscape so select exotics

if you want to select an exotic select

one that’s well adapted to your space

that you’re not gonna have to take a ton

of time taken care of

that’s not susceptible to a bunch of

diseases and that’s not going to have a

bunch of issues with growth so it’s it’s

important to select properly to get what

we need out of it the last thing I want

to say here from my personal feeling is

that planting something is better than

nothing and there are exceptions to this

for sure but in general I would say it’s

better to have a plant filling a space

than concrete right or mulch or just

weed barrier right so I’d rather have

something growing there even if it’s an

exotic plant then not and and for that

reason because we as people we’ve

expanded across so much of this earth

that we’ve really disrupted a lot of

ecosystems and we continue to do so but

we’ve also just removed a lot of plant

material from the face of the planet

with development and I’m not necessarily

faulting one way or the other but it’s

my opinion that it’s better to have

plants there than not so we might as

well plant something there if it has to

be an exotic just you know of course

make sure it fits that rule of not being

invasive or dispersive or suppressive

or expansive right exotic plants can

provide benefits there’s a lot of exotic

plants that do provide a positive

benefit to the landscape even if they

don’t provide the best benefit right or

even if some native plants are better

fit for that space so if you plant

something it’s most likely better than

nothing and that’s of course with

caution and so that’s my my only hard

and fast rule is I don’t like planting

something that is considered invasive or

dispersive or suppressive or expansive

whatever word you want to call it

something that can just get out and

start taking over places I don’t like

those types of plants because they can

really really disrupt stuff and and I

don’t want to be part of that so and I

try I try to take as many cautious or

careful ways of preventing that and I’ve

made mistakes I’ve actually just

recently removed some plants from our

landscape that I actually thought I was

planting some natives I I planted some

plants that I thought were a plant

called marsh marigold really beautiful

plant these little yellow flowers in the

spring and they do do really well in wet

areas so I thought I found soon some of

these plants it was actually in a gravel

parking lot so I figured I wasn’t doing

any disruption by digging him up and

replanting them so I replanted these

plants into a very moist area of our

landscape last year well what I’ve

discovered is that this was a lookalike

plant that was a highly invasive plant

that is starting to become a huge

problem in a lot of woodlands in our

area and it’s called lesser lesser

Sealand diner or celandine and so this


I quickly once I figured this out I went

out and removed this plant as best I can

so we’ll have to monitor that very

closely over the next next couple years

to make sure I did remove it well and

hopefully so because this plant can

totally take over a space and and causes

a lot of problems and I don’t want to be

part of that so even though this plant

was beautiful I’d rather not be part of

disrupting something that that could

provide a lot of value to the area so

with that let’s get into under

standing what’s your take what do you

want out of this whole deal do you even

care right and so I want to help you

understand how this matters to you and

so with with the first thing here I want

to say is what do you value what’s

important to you is this important to

you do you care about the ecosystem do

you care about how your landscape ties

into the greater landscape do you care

what it does for for local populations

of of creatures is this stuff important

to you what do you value right if you

just want beauty and you kind of don’t

want all this other stuff then maybe you

don’t value this whole thing right maybe

you’re in totally indifferent to whether

something’s native or exotic or maybe

even invasive right or maybe some of

this stuff does sound important to you

and that could frame how you feel about

this whole deal right okay next what

type of design style do you prefer do

you prefer that exotic feel can you get

it with something that is locally

adapted or that is an exotic that’s

locally adapted or vice versa if it’s a

regionally native plant that’s been

adapted to the region for years and

years so that kind of segues into my

next question is can a native plant

provide your desired outcome can you get

what you want with your landscape

through the use of native plants or is

it something that you basically you just

have to have exotic plants to get what

you want and that could frame how you

view this whole situation as well does

having more knowledge about the subject

does that help frame your very view of

it right

there’s understanding more about native

plants and what native plants are

available does that frame how you feel

about using native plants and so these

questions those are I want to keep it

brief so those four questions what do

you value what type of design style do

you prefer can native plants provide a

desired outcome for you and does having

more knowledge helping your decision

those four questions I want you to think

about in order to frame your view on

this this issue or this topic and so

with that I actually I want to wrap up

there today

and have you guys just kind of percolate

on whether or not natives means

something to you or not and whether or

not you’d like to use them in your

landscape and so if you would as you

guys know my personal take is I

generally prefer to use natives first

and so I’d also like to promote some

resources that have helped me and and I

want to share them with you as well

first I want to say if you’re listening

to a podcast you’re probably familiar

with other podcasts and what I want to

share with you is the native plants

podcast so if you really want to nerd

out on native plants there’s a group of

guys that have put together a podcast

and they interview a bunch of people in

the industry and and this is geared bit

more towards designers but if you really

want to understand native plants and

what there is to offer and that sort of

thing I want you to check out the native

plants podcast and I’m gonna provide a

link in the show notes to a specific

episode where they debate this exact

topic and the funny thing is this is a

spoiler alert but they actually don’t

come to a one hard fast rule on what is

native right and so the fact that

professionals in the industry still have

differing opinions but they all care

about native plants right and they still

don’t come to a full agreement on what

is native that shows you kind of how

different and how new this topic is but

also how important it is to people and

so if you want to check that out I have

a link in the show notes if you just

want to check out the podcast in general

you can search for it on on iTunes

and or you can go to their website at

native plant that’s native

plant without an S at the end podcast

com and unlike wise I also want to share

three different nurseries that are

available in various levels for the

continental US and they they all have

different you know types of plants and

with different regional availability or

or I guess regional native status

there’s a better way to put that so the

first is the prairie nursery they’re

based in Wisconsin and they they have a

wide variety of plants that are sourced


or originally from the prairies of North


so the expansive Midwest prairie across

much of the United States and all sorts

of plants that are from that space and a

lot of these plants are great for your

garden so just something check out their

their website is prairie nursery calm

next if you’re from Ohio or the

surrounding area there’s also the Ohio

Prairie nursery at Ohio Prairie nursery

calm and they’re actually just if you’re

listening to this podcast soon after it

comes out they’re just celebrating their

for for being around for 20 years in

providing native plants to Ohio prairies

and last if you’re from my near and dear

hometown of Cincinnati you can check out

there’s a local native plant nursery

here in Cincinnati and they’re called

Keystone native flora and you can check

them out at Keystone flora calm that’s

ke why sto and e flora calm FL FL o ra

and I have a link to all of these

resources in the show notes so just

check them out there that’s probably the

easiest way to find them and in the next

piece I want to say if you guys have any

questions about the show I want you to

head on over to aesthetic ecosystems

comm slash pod and there you can ask a

question to be potentially featured on

the show or just to get in touch with me

there’s a button right there you can

click it and you can get in touch with

me there and likewise if you guys have

anything to say about this episode

specifically let’s have a discussion

over at aesthetic ecosystems calm

episode 17 episode one seven that’ll

take you to the webpage for this show

and there you can get involved with the

comments and have an open discussion

about this whole topic and that’d be

great you know to just have an open

discussion helped us understand things

and and to develop some opinions of your

potentially and also to maybe provide

other resources that I haven’t talked

about today and so with that guys thank

you very much for coming by today

and thanks for tuning in and make sure

you live with passion and make tomorrow

better than today