As I looked out my window in mid-Winter, I was less perturbed by what I saw than what I didn’t see: structure, form, any color other than brown. The Northwest woodland is generally a tapestry of green, and I had a ring of deciduous trees encircling a grid of deciduous shrubs and earth covered with fallen leaves, dead branches, and weedy grasses. It looked like the set of a Tim Burton film.
The remedy for this is the evergreen broadleaf shrub; and since this is an object common enough to have a name, you’d think I could just run down to the orange apron store and pick up a dozen or so. But when restricted to native-only plants, the prospect of acquiring an evergreen broadleaf shrub becomes a medieval quest. First, you must identify the dragon. Then you must seek it, and then slay it.
That is then further complicated by the hierarchy of ‘nativeness.’ Is it native to the state? The region? The county, this small few square miles of plateau, my property? And where is the nursery material from–does it genetically identify with plants from ‘here?’ After all, if the plant was clonally propagated, it could bring a genetic trait to my property that could be potentially undesirable. The answers to these questions are, of course, shut the %*&# up. I want what I want, and if the Latin name indicates it’s the right plant, we’re cool. If someone wants to go all Maury Povich and do a DNA test on my nursery stock, it’s their dime…I’m not yo’ baby daddy.
You’d think native plants would be easy to find, being in the state wherein they are native.
Given the 70 or so acres of public land behind my property, that might technically be true, but it would also be less than legal to get my plants there. Turns out the local nursery trade is having just as tough a time with our non-spring weather as my soul is, and despite the unique adaptations to our regional climate that a native plant would possess, I have had to go fairly far afield to find my choice plant. That is why I am getting a dozen and a half Washington state/Cascade Mountain foothill native plants…from Charlottesville, Virginia.