This post is contributed by one of our Maine Flower Show speakers, Gary Fish, who is the Maine State Horticulturist.
Most gardeners have similar goals: beautiful plantings, conquering pests, and a healthy environment. I’d like to broaden the dialog among gardeners who share these goals and encourage everyone to work together to establish a new meaning for the term sustainable landscaping. As with many topics today, we have formed disparate tribes that continually debate the sustainability or lack thereof of native and alien plants or pesticides and fertilizers. My premise is to bridge the gap and start melding together the practices that achieve our sustainable landscaping goals with minimal risk to people, pets, wildlife, and the earth.
To do this, we need to stress positive communication and relationship-building strategies that find common ground. Counterproductive and misleading messaging and advertising needs to be identified and abandoned. The blame game has done little to further these goals. Everything natural is not always safe, and everything synthetic is not always high risk. Can we go back to the drawing board and create a hybrid path which results in thriving businesses, beautiful gardens, and healthy people which also leaves our planet in better shape?
I believe we can.
Gardeners should think beyond their property line boundaries and consider a broader context by including goals such as water quality protection and wildlife support.
Whether landscapers, farmers, or gardeners, there is much work to be done to educate ourselves, as well as other property owners, about the value of ecological landscape practices that result in a healthier and more sustainable environment. Let’s all begin with positive, honest, and straight-forward messaging.
If you are interested in working towards this common ground, please come to my presentation at the Maine Flower Show on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:30 AM.
About the Author: Gary Fish is the Maine State Horticulturist, a position that he has held for the past three years. Previously, Gary was the Manager of Pesticide Programs for the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, a position he held for 28 years. Gary’s background also includes being a Licensed Professional Forester since 1985, Kents Hill Forestry Services, and a 10-year member and former Chairman of the Arborist Examining Board. Gary self identifies as an “entomologist from birth” and was inspired to love plants by his mother who grew beautiful roses and rock gardens. Gary is also a landscape and nature photographer (Phish Photography). Gary holds a B.S. in Forest and Wildlife Management from University of Maine, College of Forest Resources.