Why Plant Weeds?

If we truly wish to preserve the natural beauty of our surrounds for future generations, the planting of environmental weeds in gardens should cease. Viable and beautiful alternatives are available.

The Southern Highlands is blessed with natural beauty. Surrounding our urban areas a bounty of biological diversity is provided within national parks, water catchment areas, nature reserves and state forests.

We are fortunate to live in an area where the benefits of nature can still be enjoyed. Fresh mountain air is in abundance along with many recreational activities for all to enjoy. Fishing, bushwalking, bird watching, cycling, camping etc. are favourite past times for many families and individuals.

Agapanthus spreading into bushland

Developing and expanding our urban areas presents the biggest threat to surrounding natural ecological communities (previously referred to as bushland). The government classifies most of the bush adjoining our urban areas as endangered ecological communities. There is a legal responsibility to minimise threats to endangered ecological communities and endangered species.

Rules and regulations are applied to developers to minimise the threats to all ecological communities. Great inroads have been achieved over the last decade to ensure minimum disturbance to surrounding bushland along with effective sediment control measures and urban runoff. All are designed to preserve bushland, reduce species extinction rates and to halt the decline in the quality of our waterways.

As our urban population increases so does the threat to natural bushland and its inhabitants. Our pets reduce wildlife populations and our gardens threaten isolated pockets and margins of bushland by providing a weed source and excess nutrient runoff into waterways.

Many of the plants commonly planted in southern highland gardens present a threat to surrounding native vegetation. Wherever I travel I am constantly disturbed by the increasing dominance of our urban bushland by invasive exotic plant species.

Ivy, agapanthus, seaside daisies, privet, cotoneaster, hawthorn, etc. continue to invade our bush much to the frustration of the many under resourced conservation volunteers who try to halt their march. Removal of potential weeds (especially those with berries or windborne seeds) from gardens greatly assists in attempts to save threatened bushland.

Some of the plants threatening our natural environment are classified by our Shire Council as environmental weeds and should not be planted. Many more plants should be added to this list if we are to be serious about protecting our natural heritage.

Many traditional highland gardeners still cling to the concept that it does not matter if starlings and swallows dominate their gardens as they see beauty in such things. They do not see the interrelationships that occur around them. Cause and effect are not seen when blinded by the perception of beauty. It is pretty simple. As more exotic plants dominate our landscape the number of exotic birds and animals will increase at the expense of our native species.

Frankly speaking, I prefer to enjoy the beauty and the abundant diversity of our native wildlife and vegetation.

If we truly wish to preserve the natural beauty of our surrounds for future generations, the planting of environmental weeds in gardens should cease. Viable and beautiful alternatives are available.

Unfortunately environmental weeds are easy to grow and establish. Agapanthus is a great example. Agapanthus is on councils environmental weed list and yet it is a plant I see in nearly every exotic garden. As one traditional gardener said “ if you have a spot in your garden where you have trouble establishing plants, plant agapanthus for it never dies.”

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  • Margaret Dent

    Where I live has a verge that belongs to the council. I am not young and it is impossible for me to maintain. It is covered in Wandering Jew, Privet, Ivy and so many other weeds I don’t know the name of. It has taken 7 years for the council to just spray the blackberry! Maybe the council needs to have advice sessions on how to clean these weed infested verges that butt straight onto the road without getting run over and without the use of toxic pesticides.