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Green Advertising

January 31, 2018

By: Barb Holtz

They're all around us - logos, catch phrases, advertisements. Our minds can conjure in an instant what marketers plant. "Where's the beef?" "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is!" "Just do it." Recognize any of these:

Nike logo      Amazon logo        Progressive FloOPN Seed logo

(The last one's a dead giveaway, but hey what can I say?!)

Some of those examples show my age but what does it say about ad longevity and its ability to deposit product info to memory? What we see matters and how often we see it matters even more.

Marketing isn't just for humans. For plants, especially flowering plants, life depends on it. Color, scent, bloom time, and structure all play an intimate role in pollination and seed dispersal success. Success = Existence, not only of the plant but the vast web reaching outward, connected to, at the core.

Does it really matter if Purple Coneflower is purple? So what if an Ox-Eye Sunflower is bred to have extra petals? I'd like my Spiderwort to have wider leaves rather than the blooms perched on a tall-ish stem. All this matters. It matters to the native wildlife that have adapted to nature's centuries old marketing.

Purple Coneflower   Purple Coneflower from a garden center that isn't quite purple   A purple coneflower from a garden center that isn't purple

The first photo is Purple Coneflower. I took the center and right-hand pictures at a local garden center. All were tagged Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) but also had variety names attached. 'Nativars' may be lovely and add interest to our landscapes, but at what cost to pollinators and other wildlife?

Bees see differently than we do. They perceive light wavelengths beyond our purview. A single-hued purple flower to us, a palate of two-colors with one highlighting the bloom's center to them. When native plants are cultivated to fulfill landscaping trends by changing color and morphology, the pollinator may no longer easily recognize the "restaurant", the place to find nectar and pollen nourishment.

If the native Spiderwort is genetically trained to increase leaf width, then what happens to the energy previously awarded to flower or pollen production? It takes energy to make a leaf as well as a flower. Does it make survival sense to put additional resources into a leaf when the flower is the draw, the marketing, for pollinators?

The relationship between native plants and native wildlife is very simply, important. It is essential. It is life-sustaining. We at OPN preach the good news of natives because they supply the best marketing to pollinator consumers. Don't take our word for it. There's research to back that up. (Give Bringing Nature Home by Dr. Doug Tallamy a read.) That said, there is still much to learn.

When designing your landscape, remember new and improved is not always best. Sometimes the way it is and always has been just works. Let's allow nature to make the edits to her plan. After all, she's been at this circle of life thing for a while. The choice, however, is up to you.

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