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Nature Abhors a Garden

Articles: Nature Abhors a Garden

The view from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. Years of care followed by abandonment has produced a unique garden (see Pacific Horticulture, Summer ’97) in which nature has been the head gardener for a palette of mostly exotic plants that now mask the disturbance caused by man and the elements. Author’s photograph

Homeowners and horticulturists alike use the term “ecological landscaping” to express an awareness of the importance of environmental issues. Unfortunately their awareness does not extend into the realm of semantics. The phrase ecological landscaping, despite its popularity, is ambiguous mainly because the word ecology itself has two distinct meanings. Within the field of horticulture, ecology generally refers to landscape maintenance techniques that are less destructive, polluting, or energy consumptive than “traditional” techniques—basically what is referred to as being “green.” From the biological perspective, ecology describes the structure, development, and function of ecosystems. The fact that people use the same word in different ways has led to significant communication problems among...


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