We are all in this together.

By Joanne Mohan

Native Plant Garden

The essence of this statement rings true for our plant community as well as us humans. Research has shown that plant life has developed this mutual aid process over time to support and protect the wider community in the natural ecological system. 

This “Wood wide web” first researched by Dr. Suzanne Simard, a Forester and ecologist based in British Columbia, describes an underground communication system between trees within a forest. The trees, plants, and fungi communicate through an underground fungal network called mycorrhizae to help each other and protect the overall health of the forest. This information transfer happens when there are weaker members of the forest community requiring nutrients from stronger members. Also in distress situations, plants were observed to send out chemical distress signals down the network warning the colony against imminent danger and allowing the community the chance to guard themselves in time. This fungal network shares the resources of the soil by carrying the nutrients through a system of hyphae connecting the trees and in return receives a food source in the form of carbon-rich sugars. 

This web system encourages the protection and sustainability of the forest, each tree is aware of its role as an individual and its role in the ecological community of the forest. This hypothesis offers an interesting approach to the ecological community of our gardens. Just as all our water sources are connected through tributaries, streams, rivers, and lakes, our gardens can also be an ecological web system. 

For this reason, planting native trees and shrubs on our properties creates a network that is compatible with the local environment, therefore optimizing its resilience to climate change. A native mix also provides food and shelter for our native, bees, birds, and animals. Native plants can support 10-50 times as many species as non-native plants. 

Native Plant Orillia

Planting our gardens with the right trees and shrubs, perennials and ground cover helps to stabilize soil, prevent erosion, provide biodiversity in your garden and community, provide growing areas for vegetables etc, creating more shade to cool our urban environment, and helping clean the air, while offering us a restorative space to relax and engage with nature. We incorporate native plants into all our garden designs, choosing the right plants for patio areas, rain gardens, lawn alternatives, and all garden spaces. Creating these ecosystems with the right plants can be sustainable and beautiful.

If you are planning your garden for 2024, consider some native plants this year. No matter the size, whether it is a large garden or one container on your deck or balcony, they will reward you.

They require less watering and maintenance, less fertilizer, and no pesticides. If we all incorporate some into our gardens, we will all benefit in the future. If we think of our garden as a tree in the forest we can understand how to connect nature through our community as living corridors providing a healthy community for our future. 

Parkland Landscapes Orillia

Visit http://www.parklanelandscapes.ca to learn more about how you can incorporate native plants into your gardens this Spring!