I am coming to the conclusion that it is really important to include at least a few native plants
in your forest garden
. Mine is about 30% native plants, which I believe form a sort of foundation for all the other life in my forest garden.
1. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
This plant seems to flower forever. Right now they are covered in both fully mature berries and in flowers - I have not seen that in any of my other plants. The bees
have been feeding on this plant continuously since early spring. Contrast this with for example my apple trees
, which flower for less than 2 weeks. If I had only apple
trees, the bees
would be happy for 2 weeks, but before and after that they would have to go somewhere else to find food. Many native plants such as snowberry seem to provide food in sync with the needs of the native bees - which makes sense since they lived here together way before I showed up.
2. Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana)
Early this spring I noticed that my cascara tree was covered with bees. Upon closer inspection I found that this tree produces a flower about 1/8" diameter, which I had never even noticed before. Apparently the bees love this flower. This tree was blooming about the same time as my apples, but for about 4 weeks.
I also have native food plants, such as stinging nettle
(very important for native butterflies), beaked hazelnut, blackcap raspberry, and salmonberry.
I am also inclined to think
that there are other things going on between my native plants and the native creatures in my forest garden, including in the soil.
I would guess that since my native plants support many native insects and other native creatures, the natives are pollinating my food plants, and also preying on "pest" insects.
So what do you all think? Do you have native plants in your forest garden? What have you observed?