Saturday, April 30, 2011

Plants Attract Insects - Thank God

View from a St. Petersburg balcony.
Wouldn't a few potted plants be nice?
Balconies should be mini-gardens. I thought this was obvious. When I stepped out on the balcony at my parents' new condo in Florida, after admiring the view, I said, "It would be nice to have some plants out here." I already was envisioning an enjoyable trip to the nursery. What interesting subtropical plants would I find? Perhaps a saw palmetto would be nice. And some flowering Florida natives.

So I was unprepared when my Dad said, "Plants are discouraged here." 

What?! Why would anyone discourage having plants?

"Plants attract insects."

This remark stunned me to silence. 

I thought, "So? Why is that bad?"

At home, I see myself as a steward of a woodland garden that is friendly to insects and wildlife. (With an exclusion policy for deer.) Insects are a vital part of the food chain and eaten in large numbers by birds. And birds thrive in our garden. Last summer I counted 27 species that are regular visitors to the garden.

But how do I begin to explain my deep belief in living in harmony with all living creatures? Underlying my Dad's comment is the dominant view in our culture - insects are dirty and repulsive and to be excluded from our properties. So much so that we as a culture have been willing to poison our soil and water to eradicate insects that we find to be a nuisance. At least my Dad's prevention program is more peaceable - just exclude plants.

Oh, but when will we learn to love the web of life of which we all depend? 


Commonweeder said...

I too believe in harmony - and in his book Bringing Nature Home Doug TAllamy says we need more bugs! We do not need more deer. That is my personal opinion.

Donna said...

Oh my no bugs..I couldn't live in that sterile world..Pat is right ..more insects..I could live with a few less deer and voles...

Sheila Read said...

Pat, "Bringing Nature Home" had a major influence on me and how I garden. It took away much of the lingering fear I had about insects possibly eating my plants and made me realize how vital they are to the ecosystem. And that when you have a balanced ecosystem in a garden no one species gets out of control.

Donna, I so agree. "Sterile" (or even "dead") is the word for a world without insects. And I don't feel guilty about the deer fence! Much of the garden wouldn't exist without it.