There has been a lot of hubbub about using native plants in the landscape instead of horticulturally introduced selections (exotics).

For the most part I do not subscribe to this philosophy. Because there are few native soils left I do not embrace the “natives or nothing” philosophy that some landscape architects and landscape designers espouse. When native soils are present, I am all about elimination of introduced and invasive species and replacing them with native plant choices.

About ten years ago, I had the pleasure and opportunity to restore a section of the fore-dune on a private parcel in Porter Beach, Indiana. We removed honeysuckle, buckthorn, pear and an assortment of other plantings that had been installed over a period of time. It took six men about four days to do the removals as carefully as we could so as not to disrupt any of the existing native plants.

Later that fall, in November, we returned and installed 400 little bluestem, 100 false sunflower and 22,000 marram grass plugs on the ¼ acre lot.   Twice annually for the first two years we returned to monitor and remove exotics that had reappeared since our initial removals.

Ten years later the marram grass, little bluestem and false sunflower are thriving.   The view to the Lake Michigan is wonderful and the space looks like it belongs in its surroundings. After all, we are designing for success, which means the most logical plant palette, but not necessarily a native plant palette.