There’s a lot of information out there about native plants, like why they are important, how to select them, how to grow them and where to buy them but I never find much or really anything about native plants that come up on their own, naturally. That is without help from humans. I did hear it mentioned somewhere but I thought, “nah, that can’t be possible.” I guess I was thinking about the more showy ones like wild bergamot, false indigo or butterfly weed. Like that would ever happen. Really.
The first time it actually occurred that it might be possible was when I noticed a unique plant, one that wasn’t like all the weeds I’d come to know. It came up on the side of a drainage ditch I’d made and it really wasn’t anything that special. I’m not even sure what made me notice it in the first place. After doing some research, I concluded it was a native shrub called ninebark but the next year it didn’t seem to be growing into a shrub. With so much more to do, I gave up trying to identify it but it was a turning point for me. I think it was the point I began stand back and watch instead of always just doing. It was a realization that nature could and should play a role in the development of my garden. And I could kind of help it along.
As the years went by I began to notice other unique plants. I allowed them to grow, identifying them when I got around to it. Now there are many native plants in my garden. Or at least I’m pretty sure they’re native. Plants that were planted by birds or animals or the wind. I feel like they are the plants that belong most in my garden. They may not be the most exotic or rare things. Some of them are stately, others may be considered weeds, but they are all tough, ecologically useful plants.
In the coming posts, categorized as What Comes Up, I’ll talk about these plants and what makes them special. As it turns out, I finally identified that plant that opened my eyes. It was white avens and that’s where I’ll start.
White Avens (Geum canadense)
After spending too much time searching the internet for this plant, I finally sent a few pictures to my local gardening extension and I had my answer within days. This is an interesting plant. It starts growing in winter with a bouquet of pretty leaves that spread out very close to the ground called basal leaves. In spring, a new set of bright green leaves grow on stems. Then come these tiny white flowers in late spring and finally, little burs by late summer. The Arkansas Native Plant Society has some great pictures and information about this plant. Bees, wasps, flies and aphids enjoy its flowers. I enjoy just knowing what it is.