A lot of the chatter on social media this last month has been about broken and sick trees. I give my opinion of what the best course of action is and then I watch as all the other opinions come rolling in. I realize that it is a good thing that not all of them match mine, but very often I see advice given that goes directly against what we know about the biology of trees. This questionable advice is often followed up by a testimonial stating how the tree that they, or someone else, performed the deed on has been great for the last two to five years.
Personal ResponsibilityNow, having worked on a lot of trees over the years, I have some frustration because I have seen a lot of trees treated with many of these miracle cures that have become even greater problems. I even get some folks who try and educate me, with a great deal of inaccuracy, about tree biology. But the thing that bothers me the most is that few of the folks giving advice seem to understand that someone is ultimately going to have to take responsibility for whatever happens with the tree. I suspect that many of them will gladly take credit for the great fruit or shade that the tree may give in the coming years, if everything works out. But I am sure not many of them would hang around and take the credit for a tree that drops a limb on a child, or a tree that sits half dead and has to be tied up in ropes in the front lawn for five or six years.
Personal EducationThat same level of responsibility applies to planting seeds. Nature’s Seed carries some great plants that cover a wide range of climates and growing conditions. But not all of them are suited to all areas. Some are bad choices because they simply won’t grow, and others are bad choices because they will grow too well and may cause damage to the ecosystem or neighbor’s property. We’ve tried our best to provide enough information to help you make an informed decision, but ultimately the responsibility rests with each of our customers.
Rabbitbrush ExampleThis may have happened with rabbitbrush, one of my favorite western natives, in New York state. While no one is sure if rabbitbrush that far east is a quark of nature or not, it seems more likely that it was moved there by a person rather than by a more wild source. I do not claim to know if rabbitbrush is a big problem to the folks in New York, but if it was me that planted it I would know that any problems caused by its escape from the landscape would be ultimately on my shoulders, even if I was not around to pay the price.
Tapping into a Reliable Knowledge BaseFinding out if a plant could be a problem or not can be a chore, and it takes some research. One excellent source of information is your local Cooperative Extension Service. Each county in each state has an office, and the experts there specialize in aiding the public in all things agricultural, especially with local issues such as invasive plants. As you study and communicate with experts, you may find some very good arguments for and against introducing a plant that you’re unsure of.
Finally, if you do the work and try to make the best decision based on the facts that are known, I won’t hold the occasional mistake against you as long as you are also willing to learn from the mistake. Taking personal responsibility for our actions, educating ourselves using the vast knowledge base available to us, and learning from our experiences is not only the best policy in the landscape, but also for life in general.