Native Haunts is first and foremost a native plant advocate. Why do plants need an advocate? Even though native plants grow all around us, general knowledge about their function and importance in our world is woefully lacking. Take Goldenrods for instance, it is a widely believed among the public that they cause Hay-fever. This is not true. Allergies are caused by wind-borne pollen; goldenrods are insect pollinated, their pollen is heavy, sticky and is not wind dispersed.How about staghorn sumac, it's poisonous, right? Staghorn sumac is not poisonous to humans or animals. In fact, juice can be made from its fruit, known as Rhus juice (Rhus being sumac's scientific name). The seeds are an important food source for birds and mammals well into the winter months. I could go on, but the point has been made; native plants can be misunderstood.
Native Haunts advocates the use of native plants in our gardens and landscapes. By planting natives you are supporting an entire food web; native plants provide food for native plant pollinators like insects. These insects in turn are food for animals higher up in the food chain like birds. We grow nursery propagated, sustainably grown, native plants from scratch at our nursery here in Alfred.
There are many fine shades for the definition of "native". The basic concept should hold true for anyone speaking of natives; native plants are those plants that have grown and evolved here for the millennia before European arrival. From here it can get confusing. Many of our native plants have ranges that span the continent. Take chokecherry; I was stunned to find this growing in the Shoshone National Forest in western Wyoming; this same species is growing in my back yard! Or is it? If I took the seeds from the Wyoming plants and grew them out, could I say these are native to Maine? Yes and no. The species is native to Maine but the genotype in this example is definitely not. A genotype is all about provenance-or the place in which the plant has grown; the living and non-living factors present in the species environment are a great influence. Chokecherries from western Wyoming grow in a very different climate and habitat then the ones here in Maine. Wyoming is much drier, the soils are basic instead of acidic, pollinating species and animal dispersers who eat the berries are probably different, the symbiotic fungi that live in the soil are probably not the same, even the flowering times and fruit set times are different. The Wyoming plants are adapted to their specific environment, just as the Maine plants have adapted to our higher rainfall, acidic soils, local pollinators, and dispersal agents. Same species, but very different genotypes. The plants that we grow are about as native as you can get; native species grown from propagating material collected from local sources.
Organic nursery production seems to be a relatively new and evolving concept. Most of the literature available on organic production focuses on food crops; many of these ideas can be applied to ornamental plant production, such as-organic fertilizer use, soil health and protection, management of fertilizer and pesticide run off.