Louis Bauer is Wave Hill’s Director of Horticulture.
We read with interest Doug Tallamy’s Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times—“A Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening.” It made for a lively discussion among our gardeners over lunch today in our “Potting Shed.” Certainly we agree wholeheartedly. The native plants in the gardens here at Wave Hill are the ones with all the activity: bees, birds, caterpillars and butterflies flock to them. It does not matter where they are in the garden; as Mr. Tallamy notes, they are the ‘functioning’ part of the garden environment. Through thoughtful observation, it has become apparent to many gardeners that it is not necessary for plants to be in a wholly native habitat to support the wildlife with which they have evolved.
The Helianthus helianthoides ‘Summer Nights’ in our Flower Garden, for instance—the small sunflowers in the background of the photo here—attract pollen-seekers just as they would were they growing in the meadow of natives just down the hill. So while it is important to preserve some native habitats, there is great value in having native plants among our exotic favorites. The same cluster is featured front and center in the image below, taken by photographer Joshua Bright.