Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why I'm Becoming a Native Plant Purist

Because Trans Canada wants to put a pipeline through the Nebraska sandhills and above the Ogalalla Aquifer, and the oil is coming from tar sands which could be worse than mountain top removal mining when it comes to destruction of landscapes.

Because the next generation may not know what a rhino or elephant or polar bear is.

Because the arctic had the lowest recorded levels of summer ice ever.

Because our taxes go to subsidize farmers who can't afford GMO seeds and who plow up marginal prairie in order to cash in on high commidty prices (oh, there's crop insurance too for all this so there's little gamble).

Because we perpetuate a myth about wilderness and nature, about the Midwest, about the yeoman farmer and his family, about American progress.

Because ADHD has been linked to chemicals in our environment and a lack of engagement with outdoor play in places other than soccer fields and playgrounds.

Because racism, sexism, and other intolerance is tied to how we live in nature, what we think of it, how we act toward it directly and indirectly.

Because there's a floating garbage patch the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Because feed lots exist.

Because when we lose wilderness, we lose our cultural, regional, and national identity. We grow a little bit more disconnected from "home" and each other.

Because when I walk my college class across campus not one of them can tell me that's a blue jay in the oak tree calling out. Or that over there it's a robin.

Because being a native plant purist is equivalent on the "crazy" scale to wanting equal rights for minorities, or good healthcare, or fair wages, or a government not owned by massive corporations.

Because the silhouette of a prairie orchid at sunset makes me swoon.


11 comments:

raptorrunner said...

Because everything that destroys any environment seems to be, at the base of it, linked to making money or having power.

Because learning something new about the prairie is always a thrill and there's something new every day. Why should we lose that for power and money?

Diana Studer said...

yes. Because our government has decided to go ahead and Frack the Karoo.

nicolakaresh said...

You gave me goosebumps with this one, Benjamin! Because when I recognise truth, authenticity and a genuine heart, my heart and my whole cellular structure responds in kind!

Anonymous said...

You're pretty cool! I've signed petitions against the pipeline.I've sent emails to elected officials. I hope it helps.
Mel

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Your 13? reasons make for an eloquent, moving poem. However, you diminish that passion by linking the plants to controversial nature-related issues. Please don't politicize that love. Enjoy the thrill of native plants for what they represent to most gardeners.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Allan--You're joking, right? You don't believe that our interactions with the natural world have larger repercussions, and / or are manifestations of our cultures and societies? Do you really not believe that landscape design itself has not been a cultural and political construct for all of time? Pyramids, monastic cloister gardens, French formal? We're beyond beauty and pleasure, emotions which I believe do serve their purpose, but can at the same time give us rose-colored glasses. (I think it's been a long time since we agreed on anything, wouldn't you say, friend?)

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

Benjamin,
Once upon a time, our interaction with nature had wider repercussions. Today, most urban people don't interact with it at all. Of course, they have no idea what they are missing.
No, I don't see landscape design with your eyes. Historical works represented the wealth and power of those who paid for it. It is only in the recent past, when nobility needed the income from garden visitors, that the masses have been able to benefit from that beauty. I do believe that they are not beyond that beauty.
Both of us are passionate about nature. Both of us love gardening. However, we have taken different paths for our respective journey through life. I am a city gardener who worked in industry. Therefore, my views on most subjects are pragmatic, less philosophical, less idealistic, and influenced by my geographic location and career. Nevertheless, I rely upon people such as you to remind me that there is indeed a diversity of opinions that colors all of our lives and that makes living in North America so thrilling. That we can disagree with cordiality on subjects we are so passionate about allows us to expand our horizons and enrich our experiences. I may not agree with you on most topics but I thoroughly enjoy our "dialogue". Whenever I click onto your site, I anticipate with pleasure the controversy that you will stir up inside my brain. :} Thank you for allowing me to debate the issues.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Allan--Your reply meant more to me than you might ever know. It is important that those who don't agree can talk with each other and work toward something better for all. We do come from very different backgrounds, but that give our discourse more power. And if / when such different minds do ever agree, watch out world! :)

Anonymous said...

Benjamin, your garden is amazing; your blog is thought-provoking. I realize your are in the process of going all-native--did you pull out your bronze fennel? I'm curious--the swallowtails around here prefer it to zizia, Queen Ann's lace (which is a naturalized alien).

Benjamin Vogt said...

Anon -- I still have some fennel, but not by choice, I can't get rid of it. Yes, the swallowtails prefer it to zizia, but, this year I had more swallowtails on the zizia at the end of summer than other host plants.

Jameson said...

Well said!