6 benefits of native plants
“Have you ever stopped to think how we’ve ‘inherited’ clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe or how our soils continue to grow healthy food? The answer lies in biodiversity – literally the variety of plants and animals, their genetics and the ecosystems they live in. These plants and animals, soils and microorganisms all help to ‘filter’ our water, generate our oxygen and provide the gift of healthy soils.
Above image courtesy of Peter Glass & Associates Landscape Architects & Pool Designers
We need to protect biodiversity for our own health as well as play our part in looking after our planet.” So says James Mayson, former project officer of Brunswick Valley Landcare and editor of My Native Garden, a local planting guide designed to promote biodiversity in Northern New South Wales.
When it comes to flora and fauna, we typically think of an individual species being in danger of extinction, but the reality is that each individual species depends on a range of other species – a “community” – for its food and shelter.
“By planting a native garden filled with local plants, you can help reverse this trend, connect the wildlife corridors and enhance the survival for many native species and their ecosystems,” he explains.Marion Spiller, Associate Director at Peter Glass & Associates Landscape Architects & Pool Designers agrees.
Marion Spiller, Associate Director at Peter Glass & Associates Landscape Architects & Pool Designers agrees.
“It has become blatantly clear today that the collective human footprint on our planet has been significant and will have major impacts on our future unless we adopt more sustainable living practices,” she says. “As one of the driest populated continents on earth, we have come to realise that we cannot afford gardens that require excessive amounts of water and resources … they are simply not sustainable in the long term.”
Garden styles, Marion explains, have come full circle; natives are being reconsidered again as a result of the growing interest in sustainable living and gardening.
“Today, native plants have found new popularity, but this time as legitimate garden subjects with increasing knowledge and understanding about them made easily available,” she says.
Native gardens are more sustainable as they often require less water, less fertilisers and pest control, as well as less maintenance, “if designed well and especially once established”. “In addition, native plants grow well in low nutrient soils and are therefore best adapted to our local environment,” she adds.
There are a number of benefits native gardens brings, ranging from the pragmatic to the aesthetic.
- Native plants are a haven for wildlife and many attract nectar feeding birds as well as butterflies
- Many of our plants are unique to Australia and very distinctive when in flower.
- There are native plants for all applications – privacy, screening, pleasing fragrance, rockeries and soil stabilisation.
- Native plants can be inexpensive to purchase, easy to propagate and rewarding to grow.
- Native plants are our heritage and we are able to contribute to their preservation.
- Less attention is generally required in the maintenance of an established native garden
“The increase in the range of native plants available has been extensive,” Marion explains. “Gardeners now have a vast palette to choose from, and they can recognise that diversity of effects may be achieved. There are native plants for all applications – privacy, screening, pleasing fragrance, soil stabilisation, or to achieve a tropical or formal design, etc. They also are especially suited for coastal pool environments for their adaptability and salt resistance.”