by Glenn Parsons, Master Gardener

As a MG volunteer in my county, I often come in contact with novice, homeowner gardeners who are concerned about invasive plant species but are confused by commonly available literature. This might even describe some more advanced gardeners. Well, I have stumbled upon a very informative website which is dedicated to identifying and discussing invasive species of all types. Put this one in your “reference materials” folder. Lots of photos also.

Invasives are a dilemma for all of us…

The offer of a climbing fern from a fellow gardener was SO tempting. I love both ferns and something “different”.  But discovering that Japanese climbing fern offered was an invasive in Georgia made me stop and reconsider.

So many plants that have introduced in our country and state started with honorable intentions – some to beautify and introduce new species – many to solve a problem. For example, good ‘ole kudzu was used for soil improvement and preservation. Who knew those gorgeous white flowering Bradford pears brought in from Asia would be such dangerous trees due to splitting?

But our problem as gardeners is also to remember to be good stewards of the land for the future. Yes, we may certainly have an invasive in our garden because we love the plant and work to keep it confined and in bounds. But what happens when it’s no longer our property? What happens 20 years from now?

Perfect example is the Japanese Wisteria… you can absolutely figure out where a house or homestead once stood by those vines when they flower in the spring. How about that privet that pops everywhere?  I’m certainly not a totally “go native” gardener – I like my flowers and various cultivars!  But I’ve seen the  pretty Periwinkle (vinca minor) that has spread in the woods at Kistner and pulled out bucketfuls; I’ve watched Mom’s small planting spread over almost half an acre in Milledgeville over the years.  These plants compete with our native Georgian plants.

Learning to understand invasives has made me more conscious of the impact of any plant I add to my small yard.