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Indigenous vs imported planting

(21 Posts)
Katymac Sun 03-Jun-07 19:49:54

Obviously indigenous planting is better for the environment

But when considering my Sustainable nursery should I conside imported plants a no go area

If I do how long ago did it have to be imported to be banned

Or am I over anaylising it and would some imported plants make no difference at all

I would like to open this up to a MN debate

lljkk Mon 04-Jun-07 18:25:45

Ban rabbits, then... they aren't native. Pretty sure daffodils, roses and tulips are imported, too.

Native hedges are much better for wildlife; we have a laurel sumac hedge and little else lives in it. A native hedge (rosehips, bramble, dogrose) also has harvestable products (blackberries, tea, pretty flowers).

I don't know how you find a definitive list, maybe put value on wildlife or less maintenance, rather than native/import history? Plants that don't need pesticide inputs (no hostas!), or that provide habitat and food to wildlife (hawthorn, bramble for hedging) and buddlea (good for butterflies). No matter where they came from.

Katymac Mon 04-Jun-07 19:19:22

That's it isn't it - if something has been here hundreds of years (roses/tulips) is it now indigenous?

Would like bamboo - it sounds lovely, but is obviously imported (but transport/ethical??)

I do need native hedgerows (for planning) but what mix - there seem to be so many

lljkk Tue 05-Jun-07 10:47:51

If security is an issue, put hawthorn, holly and thorny things in the hedge.

If security not a big issue, I would go for less thorny, more manageable plants and attractive in the hedge: silver birch, dog-rose.

Other good ideas here?

Katymac Tue 05-Jun-07 10:58:32

I don't think security is an issue we are in the middle of a field - if they want to break in they will

Love the idea of dog-rose - isn't silver birch a tree - that could look lovely

On a thread in Gardening I found this - which looks lovely

lljkk Tue 05-Jun-07 11:04:26

How does that commpare (costwise) to planting yourself, I wonder.

I love silver birch, it is a tree but can be trimmed to keep size down. Have to ask a local gardener for advice, too, about whether soil suitability/conditions suits plants you like, too.

Pruuni Tue 05-Jun-07 11:08:21

If you can get hold of a book called Flora Britannica, it might help - it's about our native species. Dog roses I think are native?? Also daffodils.
Though of course native is a debatable term.

Pruuni Tue 05-Jun-07 11:09:20

Apparently a very good plant for hedging is hawthorn - v thorny and dense, lovely in spring/early summer, and berries not poisonous

Katymac Tue 05-Jun-07 11:10:34

But if I plant it myself it won't be a "fence" this has wires to support them

I don't think I could do that

I thought I would plant this between fence posts - the children wouldn't be able to get through

bozza Tue 05-Jun-07 11:14:20

I would worry about some of the thorny/berry plants from a safety aspect for the children. I don't really think bamboo would be a problem for transport reasons. Surely they are propogated in this country these days? Maybe would avoid tree ferns and such like, but I think a bamboo would be lovely.

Pruuni Tue 05-Jun-07 11:16:03

Bamboo can spread like wildfire though. THough it is lovely and makes a proper screen.
Easy fro children to get through I should think?

Katymac Tue 05-Jun-07 11:36:33

My dad always plants bamboo in a bucket to keep it in place

bozza Tue 05-Jun-07 11:38:12

I think it depends a bit on the variety. I love mine though but do not use it as a hedge.

Katymac Tue 05-Jun-07 17:48:26

I agree that bamboo wouldn't be ideal for a hedge - but hopefully willow would

But I would like to feature bamboo if possible

Some have interesting coloured stems don't they?

Hallgerda Wed 06-Jun-07 21:23:46

A study in Sheffield has looked at various pieces of wildlife gardening received wisdom, and concluded several, including the one about the superiority of indigenous planting, are unfounded. Here's the book of the study. Obviously, avoid anything terribly invasive such as rhododendron or Japanese Knotweed, but otherwise, if it has berries birds will eat them, and if it has flowers with nectar, insects will arrive, etc. Other animals don't have human prejudices against foreign food, it would appear.

Katymac Fri 08-Jun-07 10:19:32

That's interesting - I'll have a look at the book too

Katymac Fri 08-Jun-07 10:19:33

That's interesting - I'll have a look at the book too

Callisto Mon 11-Jun-07 15:14:42

Katy - Monty Don is very into this sort of native planting and being quite a nice chap would probably be more than happy to answer any questions about hedging etc. You could try to get hold of him via Gardeners World: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/tv_and_radio/gardeners_world

DominiConnor Sun 24-Jun-07 16:46:50

I'm not sure that indigenous is always better for the environment...
Climate change means that plants that prospered in the old climate, might well just die in the new one.
"native" plants in Britain, assume a relatively wet climate, and to keep them alive you may well have to water them more, since it does seem likely that that Britain's long term rainfall is in decline.

Pannacotta Thu 05-Jul-07 09:54:38

Have heard that beech is good for hedging, though I agree bamboo does look good...

crimplene Sat 07-Jul-07 14:12:50

There are several issues here so apologies for the length of this post, but I hope it will help.

I feel that a lot of people get het up about the native/ non-native issue because of a false analogy with human migration. I've even heard people accuse others of being species-ist! - speaking as someone who's partner's Asian - the issues are unrelated.

Non-native plants are plants that would not grow in this country without humans bringing them. Some are naturalised in that they can reporduce here, others only remain here due to the tender ministrations of gardeners. Some plants like Rhododenron ponticum or Japanese knotweed have given non-native plants a very bad name as they can naturalise and spread rampantly and, becasue nothing much in this country is adapted to eating them (or the things that live on them) they support almost no wildlife. Things like Tulips or can't naturalise as they need human help to reproduce, but still they wouldn't support much wildlife for the same reasons.

Some naturalised species like Sycamores are not great for supporting biodiversity (there are not that many species that can live on them) but are great for supporting lots of biomass (just look up into the leaves of one and they are all covered with aphids). This makes them good for supporting lots of birds, or, like Buddleia or Fennel, lots of butterflies and hoverflies that aren't too picky about where their aphids or nectar come from, and which tend to be the more common species in the first place like blue tits or tortoiseshell butterflies - and this is where the study from Sheffield is coming from - you can get real concentrations of wildlife with some of the non-native species. This can be ideal if that's what you want and, for example, you're trying to get children interested and you want a real 'show' But the more rare stuff, in general, needs native plants.

Rabbits are bit different from plants in that they're higher up the food chain, so their effects are more complex and both positive and negative for other wildlife in different contexts.

The other two issues here are about the miles of transport to get plants to you that are grown abroad (usually in Holland) - the arguments about which are pretty well rehearsed; and about genetic provenance.

If you are going to plant oak trees you can either collect acorns from your local area and plant them - or buy trees from a nursery which does this- or buy them from one of the big Dutch commercial growers. So many trees coming from one source means that the population of oak trees inself loses all its local genetic variation and ditinctiveness, making the trees more vulnerable to diseases in the long term and more 'samey' to look at everywhere you go, the effect is a bit like in-breeding. They are almost as good for the specialist wildlife that lives on oak trees though.

The simplest answer for maximum biodiversity is to use only plants that are native to the area (Beech isn't native in Scotland for example) and whose parents are local plants if you can. But maximum biodiversity isn't really your primary aim here.

You are setting up a nursery, not a nature reserve, and you need to look at health and safety along with educational value as primary concerns. Bamboo is probably not such a good choice just becasue it is easy for children to get cuts and eye injuries from it. Planting bird cherry could also be a bad idea for similar reasons (hundreds of perfect little choking hazards on the grass every year) and it's often found in native hedging mixes. Some old-fashioned rare varities of fruit trees have a lot of educational and heritage value as well as wildlife value and could be a good choice even though they're not 'native'.

Willow hedging sounds OK - especially if you need quick privacy/ windbreak or of the ground tends to be wet. You can probably find someone who makes willow hurdles etc to make you a fence that becomes a hedge as it takes root which can look terrific. Or you could mix this technique with planting a conventional mixed wildlife hedge. I don't know what the right mix would be as it varies from place to place and under different soiol conditions, so you need local advice.

The changes that will occur in the native flora becasue of climate change are a bit hard to predict at the moment, and it is likely to take other wildlife a very long time to adapt, but later on you could consider planting some more tender things like apricots or grape vines if you're feeling adventurous and you're willing to risk them not making it. But I would take into account whether anything would need extra watering after it's established.

You should be able to get good advice from your local Wildlife Trust Conservation department - you might be able to convince someone to come out and draw up a planting scheme for you - or at least a standard list of native hedging or a source of local provenance stock. There's also a charity called Groundwork that may be able to help.

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