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(an article by Catherine)

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   A wild garden isn't a garden gone wild but one composed of indigenous plants.  It has two distinct advantages; no watering and no weeds.  By definition a weed is a plant one doesn't want growing where it is.   In the native garden everything belongs.  The only weed would be the occasional non-native that needs to be removed.  In Southern California, these are mostly Mediterranean grasses brought in the intestines of the first Spanish cattle and migrants from neighbors' yards who insist on planting Eucalyptus and Locust

    If you will notice in wild areas with the exception of the desert and the beach, there is no bare  dirt.  Every square inch of ground is covered with plant material.  Even the rocks grow mossMosstone.jpg (177906 bytes) and lichen with the occasional pioneer tree sprouting from a crack.  The thing that allows for this phenomenon is species diversity.  In what we call a monoculture, the typical garden where rows of like plants are neatly spaced, there is competition for nutrients, light, water and air. Gardeners adjust for this by watering, spacing plants with weed free bare dirt between them and by fertilizing.  In the wild the plants have adjusted themselves by having lots of different species with different requirements of light and shade, nutrients and moisture, upper story, understory and ground cover until the place is thick and rich with plant life.  Each group of plants that have adjusted themselves to live together like that are known as a biome.

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     And that's not all.  You have to have animals that go with it.  The ants and gophers, worms and other subsoil critters till; turning up nutrients for the plants.  Insects carry pollen from plant to plant and birds are the natural insecticide.  Small predators; coyote, kit fox, bob cat and red tail hawk control the rodent population.  When the wild gardener gets involved they have to be very careful not to upset that balance.  The gardener's pet pussy seems innocent enough but it makes great changes.  By eating a lizard the ant population has a chance to explode.  By eating a bird the insect population is increased.  Thus pussy has removed two natural insecticides.  When the coyote eats puss and starts coming around humans looking for another such easily caught, tasty treat, the balance is thrown off further as the coyote's natural prey population increases.   One may think of these introduced pets as a sort of faunal weed species.

    In conclusion, when you think wild, think diversity and balance.  Try to figure out what each plant is doing in its environment and what it needs.