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Go Native!


Aside from what may be negative opinions of neighbors or municipal officials, many gardeners experience frustration growing wildflowers because they have unrealistic expectations. The beauty of a wildflower display is seasonal. These plants are exquisite during the blooming season, but may look a little ragged once they have gone to seed. Also, wildflower gardens (perhaps better thought of as "meadows") are not for everyone. If your idea of a perfect landscape is one that is predictably clipped and manicured, then wildflower plantings will probably not suit you. If, on the other hand, you find great delight in a glorious display of nature's most beautiful flowers, and understand that you are participating in the inevitable cycle of the seasons, then wildflowers are for you. You must also be patient.Traditionally, plant conservation strategy has been involved with protecting and managing land. But now, some of the ecosystems that have been protected, such as bogs and northern forests, could be eliminated and new invasive species could take hold as the climate becomes more favorable to them. University of Virginia researcher Julie Etterson says that native plants face two problems that affect their long-term survival. One is the fast rate of climate change and the other is that the habitat of native plants is often fragmented to isolated islands between farms and cities, making it difficult for plants to slowly migrate to areas with more favorable conditions. This means plants will have to rely more on their evolutionary response to changing conditions. And some won't likely adapt quickly enough. "Climate change is a complex and serious plant conservation issue with a profound impact on plants and ecosystems," says Gwen Stauffer, Executive Director of the New England Wild Flower Society, America's oldest plant conservation organization.Wildflower gardens are made of native species that have established themselves without assistance from humans. A non-native plant (som

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