P90323KGardening is unnatural. Yes; quite unnatural. So is landscaping. It all involves planting exotic plants from all over the World that would not otherwise be here, including many that are too extensively and unnaturally bred and hybridized to survive for long even in the natural ecosystems from which their ancestors were derived.
Unless they grow on their own, even native plants are not natural. Those that are native to the region may not be native to the specific site. Many that are grown in nurseries are unnaturally selected varieties or cultivars. To complicate matters, much of what seems to be natural out in forests and wild lands are invasive naturalized exotics.
The weather above and most of the soil below are natural, but both are commonly enhanced for our gardens. We water our gardens and landscapes as if the weather is insufficient. Soil amendments and fertilizers compensate for what we perceive to be inadequacies of the natural soil. Insects, deer, raccoons and disease are all natural too, but we put quite a bit of effort into excluding them from our gardens.
Bees and other pollinators are all the rage now, even though many are not native or natural here. We provide them with weird and confusing new cultivars of flowers that likely produce nutritionally deficient pollen, and that distract them from naturally native plants that rely on them for pollination. It all gets so confusing!
These potted annuals and flowering perennials at the supermarket are pretty and might provide the illusion of bringing a little bit of nature closer to the home. Yet, there is nothing natural about them. They are all unnaturally bred and hybridized from unnaturally exotic plants, and were provided with synthetic fertilizers and artificial irrigation, while they were grown in synthetic medium, contained withing synthetic pots.


26 thoughts on “Nature For Sale

  1. Hmm, yes. That’s the trouble with much of what we grow, isn’t it? We think it’s “natural ” but it very clearly isn’t. But the alternatives aren’t much better. I am not a fan of too much artifice. I would just as soon prefer to continue our delusion with nature.


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  2. You should meet my friend who now plants only area natives. As for me, commerce plus climate change leaves me anxious about the challenges coming.

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    1. Well, none of what we grow at the farm is native. We grew a few western azaleas, including some that are native to Santa Cruz County, but they are not specifically native here. Nor are they native to the regions to which they get sent and planted. I happen to like the natives in the forest. It is impossible to not appreciate the coastal redwoods. However, almost all of the fruits and vegetables are exotic.

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      1. One advantage to the overly bred and hybridized exotic species is that they do not make viable seed, or at least do not make enough viable seed to naturalize and become aggressively invasive like so many introduced exotics did over the years, as long as people have been migrating around the World.


    1. Not many of us consider such matters. I only do so because I grow horticultural commodities. The cultural techniques that poinsettias, Easter lilies and potted chrysanthemums are subjected to are so ‘extreme’ that many of us would not enjoy them as much if we knew what they went through to ultimately arrive in our homes.

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    1. The advantage to disadvantages that are bred into garden varieties is that such disadvantages make them less likely to naturalize and become invasive to the natural ecosystem, as so many ‘unimproved’ species have done in the past.


      1. Adaptation is determined by survival of what works. Breeding for resiliency or resistance to disease would be relevant to that. However, breeding is generally more concerned with salability, and developing what consumers will be more likely to purchase. Breeders may brag about resiliency or resistance to pathogens, but really, such qualities are not in their best interest. Sustainability is contrary to capitalism.

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      2. Someone in bioinformatics, perhaps genetics, and ecology might be able to suss it out. I’m fascinated how plants often work together in ecosystems, sharing exudates, communicating in a sense (or conversely repelling, like juglans in walnut). There’s still a lot to map!

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      3. People think we are crazy when we talk about the behavior of plants. I have written articles about how violent some plants are, particularly vines and some of the fire dependent species that intentionally burn hot enough to incinerate their competition, so that their seed has an advantage.


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