|A native (I hope) Firebush, Hamelia patens|
Gardening seems to be the net that captures much of my attention and folly, often at the same time for some reason. Since laying the blame at someone else's feet seems to be the fashion these days, in politics and elsewhere, why shouldn't I play along and try to fit in?
So, it all started years ago when I helped my parents with their vegetable garden. It was never complicated then. Plant seeds or seedlings, tend the plants to adulthood, eat them or their progeny. Consume, consume, consume! The carnage continued in later years but on a more sophisticated level within the slick pages of plant catalogues. See that beautiful plant pictured here in all of its impeccably air-brushed glory? Buy it, buy it, buy it! The more exotic the name, the better. Especially if it ended in sinensis. If the Chinese were having smashing success in their country with a certain plant, why not give it a go here in the good ol' U.S. of A.? If they can make it grow, we can make it flourish. Then I started hearing cries--very faint at first and gradually getting louder--DON'T BUY IMPORTED PLANTS! USE NATIVE PLANTS! Would I succumb to my hedonistic, Adam-ant, consumerist instincts or listen to reason?
I bought the plant pictured above at a Master Gardener plant sale earlier this year. As far as I can tell, based on this UF/IFAS article about firebush, it has orange-red flowers and hairy leaves. It must be a native firebush. Hooray! For once, I had chosen well and listened to reason. But wait...There's more.
|Hamelia patens, var. glabra?|
Three additional shrubs purchased a few months later at one of the big box stores and also labelled Hamelia patens joined their sister (brother? cousin?) in the garden. Only now do I discover that the blooms start out red but turn into trumpets of yellow. And--worst of all!--I finally notice that the leaves are hairless. Could it be the dreaded Hamelia patens var. glabra?
So, what's the harm in putting native and non-native firebushes together in the landscape? Could there be a possibility of plant miscegenation beginning its insidious work here, gradually corrupting the native population and confusing a bunch of pollinators? Read the article and decide for yourself. Don't believe me. I'm just a gardening fool, and I like reading, especially Pudd'nhead Wilson. Don't read it! I forbid it! You might end up liking it too.