Disturbed places

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is the willingness to think.

-Chuck Jones

If an Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) or Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) volunteers (grows up without being intentionally planted) in an empty field, is it a weed? I know how I would answer, but I recently found that not even all those whom I might consider my peers would agree. One of them pointed out that because those two plants are so effective at colonizing, and because they have already spread so widely, trying to eradicate them is futile. In their opinions, the ecological balance that existed before the introduction of Amur honeysuckle and Callery pear (among other aggressive non-natives) has been irrevocably shifted.

Given that seedlings of L. maackii frequently pop up in my garden (the closest mature, i.e. fruiting, specimen is barely 100 yards from our property), I have to concede that restoring the balance would be quite a feat. But, I find myself unwilling to consider it inevitable that these two, and many other species that behave similarly, should ultimately displace other plants wherever they can.

Most of us live in disturbed ecologies. That is, we are surrounded by flora and fauna whose lifecycles have been impacted by our presence. Indeed, there are very few places where the human hand has not directly or indirectly muddled. Though the effects are not always obvious or immediate we do affect everything we touch, anthropocentric though it may sound!

It may sound like I’m condemning any meddling with natural balances, but I don’t intend that. Rather, as one gardener, I just hope that other gardeners are aware that the whole effort of gardening fiddles with various ecologies that abound in the landscape. As dabblers in balance, we can affect the direction in the shift of balance. For me this means that instead of accepting the unchecked spread of plants introduced by our predecessors, I will do what I can to help shift the balance back.

Leave a Reply