Doug Tallamy proposes, or for anyone wanting even a few natives to attract indigenous wildlife and bugs.
Commenters offered sources where I could find a pagoda dogwood.
But I really waffled about planting one.
Because the simple fact is that I don't have a native environment. There is nothing about a wide open sodded half acre lawn that resembles the woodland succession of trees and shrubs where native understory trees are happiest. The pagoda dogwood I wanted is lovely, but apparently struggles out of its natural habitat, and I don't have its natural habitat. I don't have anything close to its natural setting, and no one around here does.
|Not many suburban yards look like this any more|
Nurseries don't want to carry problem plants that don't grow well for their customers, and some natives just don't do as well as the imports and cultivated hybrids that are bred for garden performance.
It's not that native plants are inferior or fussy or poor plants. It's that we don't have a native environment to plant them in.
We treat our gardens as beds for isolated specimens so we can enjoy each flower, each bush, each conifer, vine and perennial for its own lovely merits. But in nature's world things grow jumbled together, in a complex system, and even the leaf litter on the forest floor is a critical part of the whole system. We carefully rake any leaves off the lawns that surround our man-made gardens.
|Pagoda dogwood where it wants to be|
We need to recreate it, and Tallamy tells us even one or two native plants in a yard can make a difference. And I'm not giving up entirely! But I am also aware that most nurseries are not going to carry plants that are the wrong plant for the wrong place, and many native plants are wrong for densely populated areas, no matter how much we want to "plant for the wildlife" or "recreate a natural setting".
It may be a chicken and egg thing: until our human habitation is at least partially restored to dense woodland, scrub, succession plants and forest, we aren't gong to have the right place for some natives; but unless we plant the natives we won't ever get an approximation of our natural environment back!
|Pagoda dogwood where I planted it|
So how did my attempt at planting a native tree work out? I did find a lovely large specimen at Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, CT. It's the straight species, not the somewhat fussier variegated or golden variety.
I bought, it, I planted it where it will get a little afternoon shade, and I'll try very hard to keep this native tree happy in my non-native man-made artificial garden.