While browsing the Timber Press website, I came across this excerpt from Allan Armitage’s 2006 book, Native Plants for North American Gardens. It seems like a great companion for the Tallamy book, which is not meant to be a comprehensive list. But what interested me is Armitage’s view on natives:
Like many gardeners, I enjoy mixing natives with exotics; I am simply not capable of limiting myself to one or the other exclusively. Most gardeners are country blind, and that is a good thing. Our gardens and landscapes are richer for the diversity and assimilation. Some people prefer to celebrate only those plants which “belong” here, and they will talk you to death about why this is right. I like to celebrate plants that work in my garden, and I let the plants do the talking.
When I see a perfect miscanthus or a gorgeous scaevola, I will not feel guilty that I didn’t plant buffalo grass or copper canyon daisy in its place. Does a chocoholic spurn Ghirardelli or Godiva because they aren’t made in Hershey, Pennsylvania? There is sufficient diversity in native material to have all sorts of different plants, but why eliminate the rest of the world in a zeal for America? Good grief, we are gardeners, not Minutemen!
And then Armitage goes on to explain his distaste for absolutist preaching that natives are the only way to garden. I think many gardeners feel the same way. But I also agree with Tallamy that some proselytizing is necessary to get more natives introduced into landscapes dominated by lawns and meatball shrubs.