What's the big deal with native plants? I confess that I once thought natives were boring and rangy-looking, then I followed Van Bobbitt through local forests, wetlands, parks and neighborhoods to meet them personally.
Van teaches landscape horticulture at South Seattle College. He is a sage of living things who can identify hundreds of plants and trees and show why we need them. He would tell you many good reasons for growing natives: they are adapted to our growing conditions; they promote biodiversity and support local wildlife, and generally need less maintenance.
But I was surprised to discover their beautiful variety. Many are fruit producers with handsome foliage, including huckle-, salmon-, thimble-, elder-, straw-, crow- and blackberries. Our native ninebark has the same flower clusters and strippy bark as the cultivars. Many have delicate blooms, wonderful fragrance or flaming fall color.
They are successful, they are here, and I'm planting them.