Thursday, August 8, 2013

Invading the Invasive

The bright buzzing bee tickles the chicory flowers as she moves from stem to stem in the abandoned, wild garden.  In the background, a red winged blackbird sings its' sharp screech while perched on a low branch.  The moment of making the big decision of the morning arises.  Do I use my telephoto for the audaciously loud blackbird?  Or, do I stay with my macro to capture the bees?
Sweet sweat bee enjoying some morning Chicory
Nikon 600, 105mm

Both wild and cultivated gardens have flowers, insects, birds and other natural gifts offering a changing pallet for the photographer.  The natural order and food chain that provides this pallet needs to be protected and preserved.  Our understanding of how native plantings, compatible plantings and invasive plants impact nature's gardens is necessary for balanced environments.

Native plants are adapted to the combination of water, soil, temperatures and nutrients.  As a result, they are energy efficient, require less maintenance and enhance the food chain.  Natives easily fill gardens, fields, roadsides with color that returns year after year.

The Lady Bird John Wildflower Center site has a quick guide to finding out if your favorites are considered native along with other event and conservation information.

Red-winged Blackbird
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150 - 500mm
Invasive plants do just the opposite.  They consume more water.  They require chemicals and potentially radical methods to destroy.  They can become aggressive and destructive weeds to the local habitat and ultimately, nature's order.  Natives are basically choked out of their habitat.  Invasive plants' resistance to local bugs and insects cause insect decline or disappearance.  When local insects decline, sadly, other's in the food chain follow.

Our call to action: invade the invasive plants and take them out of our gardens, landscapes by the roots!

Information and warnings of invasive plants can readily be found on the internet.  Check out Cornell University's Ecology and Management of Invasive Plants Program to see a listing of invasive plants and the research work Cornell is performing.

Going "native" does not mean that you get rid of your beautiful, well-tended compatibles. Compatibles coexist nicely with our natives.  Rose bushes, hydrangeas, hostas, annuals and other plants while require a commitment for care, do not tear down native habitats.  It's important to understand your non-native plants behavior before planting.

Today, more nursery's are carrying more native plant inventories.  A nursery that is leading by example is Four Season Nursery in Traverse City, Michigan.   They are very active members of organizations that promote native planting habitats including Saving Birds Thru Habitat.

So whether we are gardening, birding or capturing images...knowing and nurturing our native plants and what they attract will protect and enrich our environment.

Happy Shooting!