When creating a garden, one wants to use plants and flowers that will add beauty and character to the space. But what to do when you want a beautiful garden, but don’t want to risk accidentally buying an invasive species?
The answer? Contact the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society (CKISS).
The society has a program going on called the PlantWise Program, which is done in partnership with the Invasive Species Council of BC, and is a prevention-based, province-wide program designed to encourage both the horticulture industry and gardeners to choose only safe, non-invasive plants.
“We’re trying to mitigate the attacks of invasive species,” said Laurie Frankcom, Education Program Coordinator for CKISS. “We try to encourage people not to plant them in the garden in the first place, and if they do have an invasive species in their garden, to remove and dispose of them in the proper way.”
Invasive plant species can cause a lot of damage to the local environment if not dealt with promptly. For example, Japanese Knotweed was once used in gardens for decorative purposes, but it was discovered that the knotweed, which looks similar to bamboo, has a root system that can reduce or eliminate access to water bodies for recreational activities including fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
When shopping for plants and flowers, it’s best to find a vendor who doesn’t sell invasive species. One such vendor is the Nakusp Heritage Nursery (NHS). The NHS is the first nursery in the West Kootenays to be part of the PlantWise Program, and will not sell any kind of invasive species.
“I believe that all nurseries should be part of the program, and not sell invasive species to the public,” said Carla Poulin, co-owner of the NHS. “I just think it’s a smart thing to do.”
Instead of carrying invasive species like the butterfly bush, Poulin, or her husband Bill, will suggest a similar, but non-invasive plant or flower. Poulin noted while invasive plants do well in the wild, they can thrive in a private garden.
“In the garden, the environment will be more favourable,” she said. “Because the soil will be nicer, and there will be fertilizing in the garden, it would be rampant.”
Getting shoppers to buy non-invasive can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes shoppers will simply leave the nursery, going somewhere else in order to buy what they’re looking for. Poulin herself would love to have one or two of the plants for her garden, but she sees the harm it could do.
“I love the butterfly bush, and I would love to have it,” she said. “But I don’t have it, and I won’t carry it.”