During the Spring I work for Hidden Savanna Native Plant Nursery transplanting seedlings to pots. From late Spring through Fall I work on Dropseed projects and during the Winter months you can find with the amazing volunteers known as the "Winter Warriors." The Warriors work twice a week clearing invasive species from various nature preserves owned by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. "Introduced species occupy space in an ecosystem - space that was once occupied by contributing native species - but they have not been present for the thousands of generations required to form the specialized relationships that run ecosystems." (Doug Tallamy from "Nature's Best Hope"). And what are these introduced species that are wreaking havoc on our nature preserves? The common Eurasian ornamentals that have been favored by the nursery trade and passed on to homeowners during the past few decades. You know them well - Oriental Bittersweet, Asian Honeysuckle, Multiflora Rose, Privet. Burning Bush, Butterfly Bush, Norway Maple, Tree of Heaven, Autumn Olive, Buckthorn, Japanese Barberry, Baby's Breath, Dame's Rocket, Knotweed, Purple Loosestrife, Bradford Pear, Reed Canary Grass, and White and Yellow Sweet Clover. They may seem innocent enough as a pretty garden plant but these kinds of plants are collapsing ecosystems. I'll quote Tallamy again because he always explains it better than anyone else. "As we homogenize plant diversity around the world by replacing diverse native plant communities with a small palate of ornamental favorites from other lands, the insects that depend on local native species decline. We have caused these declines by the way we have designed landscapes in the past. But we can and must reverse them by the way we design landscapes in the future, for such decisions will determine how well our ecosystems function."
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