I am writing to respectfully comment on two particular items contained in Councilman Lough’s recommended revisions to the city’s landscape ordinance as reported in the May 13 edition of the Sun-Commercial.
First Mr. Lough stated that the current ordinance limits bushes that can be planted to only native species. To the best of my understanding, the current ordinance does not require native species, but does strongly recommend their use. In my opinion, this is proper. Native species are fully adapted to our growing conditions. This means that they provide maximum ecological benefits, particularly as a food source for wildlife as well as habitat. I would also add parenthetically that although native plants occur naturally, they shouldn’t necessarily be considered weeds and are not unattractive. Farmers like myself, have tended to be challenged in that regard.
The second issue concerns the availability of native plants. I concur with Mr. Lough that availability of these plants is in fact limited, especially if you look for them in your local garden center or nursery. That is why over the past three years, the volunteers with Knox County Cooperative Invasive Management Area (KCCISMA) have gathered the seed locally of 60 different native species of grasses, sedges, rushes, forbs, vines, shrubs and trees and propagated thousands of native plant seedings for sale to the public at very reasonable prices. I might add that this is done with the cooperation of the Southwest Purdue Ag. Center who allow us to use a greenhouse not currently in use. Proceeds from the sale of these plants allow us to buy potting soil, containers, propane for heating and maintenance of the greenhouse. Excess proceeds go to fund our education and outreach programs and provide tools and chemicals for our monthly workdays. Native shrubs now available through the KCCISMA, include Buttonbush, Wild Hydrangea, Swamp Rose, and Kalm’s St. Johnswort. As seedings, these shrubs are small, but with care they will soon grow to an attractive size. Hopefully as our expertise and capacity increase, we will be able to offer 2 year old shrubs.
Supplying these plants has been a labor of love that fills a very real void that now exists across much of Indiana, but no longer in Knox County. In the past these plants have been offered at the farmer's market and Rendezvous and can also be ordered by visiting the KCCISMA website or any member. (We also accept donations.)
How nice Vincennes looks will ultimately be decided by the people of the Vincennes Community. I think it would be constructive to consider that when we use the term “community” we aren’t just referring to a group of people, but also to a place and all the living things with whom we share that place. People are only one strand of that fabric. The health, productivity and beauty of that fabric will be a function of how we respect and value it and all of its members, great and small.
I would like to voice my appreciation for the attention that the Sun-Commercial has given to this important issue and for providing the opportunity for me and hopefully others, to voice our opinions.