Founder’s Day Recap:Contribute to the “Web of Life”  — Plant Natives 

by Pam Hamamoto, HAS Member

Photo Credit:   René Bittner from Pixabay 

The Founders’ Day Lecture held April 2nd at General Palmer’s Glen Eyrie estate, was no snooze. David Salman, known to a lot of us for his many contributions to horticulture in the West, talked on “Gardening with Native Plants to Benefit Pollinators and Songbirds”. Pollinators often rely on natives for their sustenance, but Salman stressed that some of the plant introductions he has made to our market over the years (non-natives) have been natural offspring of natives and do support the pollinators and thus the songbirds that depend on them to feed their young. 
The pollinators and birds that we so enjoy in our gardens need water, shelter, space and a diversity of food–the flowers that provide nectar, pollen and small insects to munch for the entire season. Salman said that we are planting to attract the beneficial insects and that systemic pesticides, especially the neonicotinoids, poison the pollinators. A healthy, living soil grows better and more resilient plants.

The time for us to make a significant contribution to help in the “Web of Life” is now, through our gardens. Pesticides kill bugs. Bugs are a very important part of the garden ecosystem. And Salman did get passionate about healthy soil, healthy bugs and healthy plants. The soil needs help, but don’t dig up your plant, rework (dig) the soil, and replace the plant. That harms the microscopic arthropods and beneficial fungi that improve your soil. Put your organic additions on top and let them work into the soil. It may not be fast but it will be effective.

One of the sources that was mentioned multiple times was ‘Nature’s Best Hope’ by Doug Tallamy. High Country Gardens, a source of plants and information that many of us use, was started and nurtured by David Salman. He is currently the chief Horticulturist for High Country Gardens and the owner of Waterwise Gardening, LLC, where he breeds and propagates waterwise plants. 

Many of the plants, trees to shrubs to herbaceous perennials, that Salman picked out for his presentation are available at the HAS Gigantic Plant Sale this year. Some of them are: Pawnee Buttes Sand Cherry, Cheyenne Mock Orange, Kannah Creek Buckwheat, Fernbush, Salvia Pachyphylla, Rabbit Brush, Giant Sacaton grass, Claret Cup cactus, Banana Yucca, Penstemons, Evening Primrose, Wild Four O’Clocks, Beebalms, Purple Prairie Clover, Agastaches, Salvias, Goldenrod, and Zauschneria.