If you wish to grow regionally native plants — plants that co-evolved with wildlife for centuries — keep in mind that seed propagation methods can have a huge impact on wildlife. Look for nurseries that harvest seeds from their own plant stock. Their original seed stock was likely from the wild. Also, read catalogues and websites carefully to ensure that only a small portion of local plants were harvested to gather seeds, that the plant’s seeds were taken rather than the entire plant, and that the species is not at risk.
- When buying flowers, herbs or vegetables, consider supporting businesses that grow their plants organically, using the wisdom of nature to guide their methods. This is good news for the wild creatures and ecosystems that can otherwise be harmed.
- Avoid invasive species that can easily take over wild spaces and reduce the biodiversity of an area. Check with provincial or federal agencies that monitor invasive plants in your area before you buy. Many nurseries are unaware of invasive plant species and the risks they pose, so if you come across one in a nursery, share what you know. The nursery may be happy to alter its plant selection accordingly.
- Explore and preserve the genetic diversity of unique heirloom flowers, vegetables and herbs. Before 1951, the year hybrid varieties were introduced, heirloom plants were bred for flavour, aroma, nutrition and colour — unlike the modern day industrial breeding for mass-market needs of production and shipping. In addition to being non-GMO (genetically modified organisms), heirloom varieties are also considered “true to type,” which means each generation is fertile and grows like the ones before it. — Sarah Coulber
For more information, visit WildAboutGardening.org.