The days are getting longer, and signs of spring are starting to appear in the Kootenays. Before long it will have changed from ski season to gardening season. The horticulture industry has been recognized as a key pathway for invasive species introduction and spread. Introduced invasive garden ornamentals have unique characteristics that allow them to outcompete native vegetation causing economic and environmental harm.
Knotweed, for example was first introduced to North America as a decorative garden shrub and was popular with gardeners as it was fast growing and required minimal attention. Little did these gardeners know they were helping spread an aggressive plant that has the ability to erode river banks, disrupt spawning beds, grow through roadways and threaten the foundations of homes.
The Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society has partnered with the Invasive Species Council of BC and is an active ambassador for the provincial-wide PlantWise program. PlantWise was designed to educate and motivate both the horticulture industry and home gardeners to choose safe alternatives or native plants instead of invasive ones.
“Our goal is to educate gardening enthusiasts about horticulture’s most unwanted invasive plants in BC while providing a variety of non-invasive alternative,” says the society’s education program director, Laurie Frankcom.
“We will be attending a variety of gardening events throughout the Kootenays this spring. Our first stop is the Seedy Saturday event, which will take place Saturday, hosted by SEEDS, at the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce building. We encourage you to attend the free PlantWise information session that we will be providing at 12:30 p.m.”
In 2016, the Invasive Species Council launched a new app in that allows gardeners to identify which plants to stay clear of in order to protect our communities. The PlantWise App can be downloaded for free. With all this valuable gardening information available at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to make gardens in the Kootenays free of invasive species.