Barberry

For our full statement and plant list, click here.

It’s not really news to anybody anymore: the spread of invasive species of plants can have dire consequences for the environment, our economy, and even our health. Invasive plants infiltrate our forests, meadows, ponds, and gardens; once established they are often difficult or impossible to eliminate.

Invasive plants upset delicate ecological balances that may never be repaired by outcompeting native plants that many creatures rely on as sources of food and shelter – be they deer, birds, butterflies or native bees. Invasive plants can act as hosts for pests and diseases that affect crop production and can even take over valuable farmland. This reduces crop values and increases costs for farmers: the estimated economic impact of invasive plants on Canadian agriculture alone is over $2 billion each year. The estimated economic impact of invasive species (plants and animals) in Canada is between $16 billion and $34 billion each year. These are not trivial numbers.

Garden centres and growers (and even gardeners!) should be a natural ally in the fight against invasive species of plants, yet many of us have been slow to act. There are a couple reasons for this:

First, invasive plant species often exhibit characteristics that, as gardeners, we find irresistible or that make them easier to grow and maintain. Many have attractive and unique visual characteristics.

Second, there is some disagreement on a few topics: a) which plants are truly invasive, b) which invasive plants are of the greatest concern, c) whether cultivated varieties are to be treated differently than their parent species, and d) what responsibility lies with whom. When such disagreements exist, it’s tempting to continue with the status quo until clarity emerges.

During times of uncertainty and economic turbulence, it’s difficult for retailers to do away with “tried-and-true” plant species when there are still scattered debates over how to manage the issue and over which plants are of the greatest concern. These plants pay our bills, keep our staff employed, and keep our valued customers happy.

At the end of the day, however, we’ve come to grips with this reality: the negative impacts of invasive plants are not an issue to be dealt with “later”. Whether it’s convenient or not, communities are already dealing with the costs associated with invasive species. As a garden centre, a small business, and a member of the London community, we have to start somewhere, and we have to start now.

Beginning with the 2018 season, Van Luyk Greenhouses and Garden Centre will no longer be carrying invasive plant species, including their associated cultivars.

For the time being, we will be deferring to the expertise of the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) when determining which species are invasive and which ones are not. We referred to the UTRCA’s list of invasive species as of September 15th, 2017 to determine what we would and would not offer for the 2018 season. We understand that the UTRCA may update their list as time goes on, but we are optimistic that our decision may at least initiate some important conversations.

This means some plants that our customers have come to love and expect us to offer will no longer be available for sale. We’re happy to assist our valued customers in selecting suitable alternatives to invasive species; we have hundreds of beautiful perennials, trees, and shrubs that can be planted in lieu of invasives. We will also make a concerted effort to educate our customers on the drawbacks of invasive species and the advantages of native or near-native plants.

Our hope is that we might encourage gardeners, growers, garden centres, experts, and municipalities to expand existing dialogues and thereby assist in the ongoing effort to control invasive species of plants.

This is only our first step, but we feel it is an important one.

We’ve also compiled a list of the plants we have normally carried but that are considered invasive, along with a list of good alternatives that we’ll offer in their place this year. Take a look at it here.