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Native Plants for Easter

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.Genesis 1:29-30

 

This Easter Sunday, we will once again feature live, native plants in the sanctuary instead of traditional white lilies.  As many of you know, the Beeloved Community Garden consists of primarily native plants as well.

 

What are native plants?

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They are the ecological basis upon which life depends, including birds and people. Without them and the insects that co-evolved with them, local wildlife cannot survive. 1 

 

Unfortunately, most of the plants we find in big box stores and nurseries are exotic species from other countries and even other continents.  They do not participate in the local ecosystem by feeding the “beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground” as God instructed.

 

In fact, most of the exotic plants we see today – hostas, forsythia, hellabores, crepe myrtles, tea olive and more – were originally chosen for that reason.  Because these plants are not sought after by local animals and insects, they keep their pristine leaves and flowers.  We need to rethink our yards as serving the good of the Earth and not solely our own aesthetic preferences.

 

Why does it matter?

Almost 300 years of introducing plants from other ecoystems has wreaked havoc on our native wildlife.  Many are familiar with the damage of kudzu, English ivy, and Bardford Pears.  This list of invasive species grows longer each year as plants replace native species in our ever-shrinking wild spaces.

 

As a result we are seeing sharp declines in insects, song birds and other animals that depend on these native plants for survival.  Insects alone play critical roles in pollinating plants we eat, breaking down waste in forest soil and forming the base of a food chain that other, larger animals — including humans — rely upon. 2

 

How can you help?

The answer is not complicated.  For people who own land, rethink its purpose.  For decades a large green monoculture of turfgrass was a status symbol.  We now have over 40 million acres of grass lawns in the US that are absolutely useless to the local ecosystem.  If each landowner commits to converting just half of that land to native plants the impact will be immediate and dramatic.  Planting a single oak tree will trap carbon contributing to climate change, shade your home to reduce your energy bill, and provide habitat and food for over 500 different species of moths and butterflies.

 

Simply put, as responsible stewards of God’s creation, we can support the health and restoration of a biologically diverse ecosystem by planting native plants.  In your yard, native plants are beautiful, low maintenance, healthier for people and the ecosystem, combat climate change, conserve water, and support native wildlife.  Because God did not just bestow green plants and trees on humans alone, but upon everything that has the breath of life in it.

 

If you are ready to take the first step, come to the Native Plant Sale and Recycling Event on April 20 in the courtyard.  You can also check out these Native Plant Resources for ideas and sources of plants and native plant landscapers.



 

 


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