Native or native “cultivar”, what to do?

phlox 1 c

Native vs native “cultivar”, what to do? Just something to ponder as I post here 5 different cultivars of Phlox subulata (“native” to the eastern US).

phlox 2 c

I’ve designed and built over 600 gardens around the world, almost exclusively “conservation” gardens where the only plants used are natives and endemic to that specific region, or children’s gardens where other considerations such as color, scent, texture, relative toxicity are priorities.

phlox 3 c

However sourcing native species from a vendor can be troublesome, not just because of where the actual material originated (the genetics of two different geographical populations of the same species can vary quite markedly) and how it was propagated (about 70% of natives are genetic clones), but also because one has to make the decision as to whether or not the “cultivar” of a native still retains what made it “native” to begin with (read: ecological role).

phlox 4 c

For a further discussion, this article from the team at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens is a pretty good start.

phlox 5 c

Also known as Moss Pink, marking the advent of early Springtime flowers, this species lends its name to the full moon every April as the Pink Moon.

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