May 31, 2005

Darkness at Noon

Britons feud over sudden shade in the back garden. Now there is a campaign against problem hedges. Bureaucrats become involved.

The villain is a cross between the Monterrey and Nootka cypresses, both native to the West Coast of North America. In this case, "hybrid vigor" has produced a fast-growing tree that is peddled for people who want instant hedges.

I don't consider myself to be a "native-plant Nazi," but the temptation is to say, "See, this is what happens when you bring in something and plant it everywhere."

Kudzu, anyone? Tamarisk? Russian olive?

I was raised with the doctrine myself: plant trees, beautify your property. Shelterbelts save on heating and cooling bills. Etc. Dad and I planted rows of Siberian ("Chinese") elms and even some Russian olives.

Lilacs, too. It's hard to hate lilacs.

But really, you are better off sticking with natives. Chances are that birds and beneficial insects will appreciate your choice.

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