Perhaps this is advice to reiterate a little closer to the (northern hemisphere) growing season. But without any other pressing topics asking me for a rant at the moment, I would like to warn would-be gardeners out there to pay attention to what you are planting.
If you can, avoid big-box gardening centers such as Walmart and Home Depot. While I avoid them for other reasons as well, a biggie is that they distribute similar plants and seeds to all their stores around the country. So, many plants native to different areas (and different countries) are distributed to where they do not belong. I know that the Walmart in Butte, Montana goes so far as to sell seeds of plants forbidden by the state’s Noxious Weed list. Every single year, the local weed folk have to go to Walmart and have them remove the illegal seeds from their shelves, because they don’t bother to learn from their mistake – I suppose there are no legal repercussions available, which is unfortunate. Apparently the idea of being a good corporate citizen hasn’t occurred to them either, when put up against the cost of keeping noxious weeds from non-native areas. The homogenization of our business communities and the homogenization of our landscape are not just parallel phenomena, they are inextricably intertwined.
Seeds meant for planting are not the only source of invaders – checkout the Invasive Species Weblog for info on an attempt by Oregon to start regulating birdseed. With all these unregulated pathways still existing — despite the spread of significantly destructive invaders such as sudden oak death and the Asian longhorned beetle caused by free-trade-trumps-all thinking — the fight for the conservation of biodiversity and habitat diversity truly seems an uphill climb.