Michigan Native Plants

  (SAGINAW, Michigan)
Wildflowers Native Plants
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Buy Locally, Plant Ethically

My one New Year resolution is to post a blog entry at the least, monthly. And for 2011, our planned advertising has put into motion guarantees I will update our LocalHarvest profile weekly starting in March.  All thanks to 50 year-old lessons learned & remembered still. 

Blogging became a luxury in 2010 as we fought to survive not only Michigan's economy -YES! It is that bad - but the unusually early spring.  Our 'money' plants, the Trillium, were in full bloom mid-April, weeks before the opening of early Farmer's Markets & our scheduled MDA inspection. Consequently not only were outside sales down but with new construction nonexistent & money tight, few landscaping clients. We survived; the plants back in the ground knowing nature will reward us with an even better product this spring. And we had the luxury of time come fall to visit & collect seeds in all our familiar woods . . . . .

December found us, as always, contemplating 2011 advertising starting with the ad in the Michigan Wildflower Conference program. We  talked about the changes witnessed on public lands visited as we cleaned for Christmas & cooked for New Years: at Saginaw County's Price Nature Center it was the return of Indian Cucumber - Medeola virginiana which due to deer grazing or poaching had disappeared for two years; along the Betsie River downstream of Interlochen, stands of Cardinal Flower - Lobelia cardinalis had disappeared; wild stands of Hardy Orchid - Ladyslippers had vanished & not due to changes in habitat but poaching! In every woods visited other humans had preceded us & not to walk or collect seeds but most times with a shovel.

It was the Ladyslippers that got to Lynn.  A chance meeting a decade ago rewarded us with tens years of enjoyable fall afternoons expanding these public stands.  Last fall we found two of the stands clearly dug & were not talking about one or two plants.  Someone had removed almost every plant either for their own garden or most likely to sell.  What sickened the five of us was the probability this removal was a death sentence.

Hardy Native Orchids require very specific environments.  Each outside sales season, inevitably someone will offer: “I dug one up from by our cottage & brought it home. It came up the next year but didn’t flower. This year it didn’t come up at all. What did I do wrong?” What all these people did wrong was both remove the plant from the wild & disregard their very specialized environments. They are not impossible to grow just impossible to grow without respect to their needs, needs that run counter to the normal definitions of 'soil', 'moisture' & 'fertilization'.

Now realizing the largest source of Michigan Native Plants is public land, our advertising remembers a lesson learned by Lynn when her Grandparents introduced her to Michigan's woods & woodcraft: Buy Locally, Plant Ethically. And we will post all Michigan wildflower events & sales on our LocalHarvest homepage to assist the consumer.

Though her Grandparents would be saddened the sources of Native Plants has become a moral issue, I'm certain they are equally happy  this 1st lesson has been remembered & shared.

TimB

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