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by David Salman

Aspens in Fall Color
Aspen in fall color, Sangre de Cristo Mts., NW.

I was once asked, “ Shouldn't you be doing more important things than growing plants?”  Well, that question got me thinking. And in a nut shell, here is my answer. “No, there IS nothing more important than growing plants!”

You see, the bottom line is that in so many ways, plants power the planet. By harvesting and converting the energy of sun, plants keep planet earth alive!

  1. Plants and algae (single celled plants) take the sun’s energy and via photosynthesis, convert it into food (carbohydrates) upon which all the rest of the earth’s creatures depend. Plants are at the start of the planets food chain. So basically, no plants, no food.
  2. Plants take CO², a waste gas that all non-plant organisms give off when they breathe oxygen, and recycle it and release oxygen. No plants, no oxygen.
  3. Plants are also complexly interconnected with the movement of water on Earth. Plants release huge volumes of water to the air in a process known as transpiration. Transpiration is a plant’s way of cooling itself by absorbing water from the soil with their roots and releasing it through their leaves; basically a solar powered air conditioning system!  So in a very major way, plants are responsible for rain and snow. It’s the water they release to the atmosphere that recharges the atmosphere’s water vapor and powers the weather. We see the disastrous effects of desertification and drought when huge areas of tropical and temperate forests are destroyed. No plants, no rain.
  4. Plants are essential for recycling water between sky and Earth.  Plants are super efficient at helping water soak into the soil instead of simply rushing across a barren Earth to the ocean. Plant roots also filter water as it moves through the soil. This soaking and cleansing replenishes the planet’s aquifers, streams and rivers with clean water.  No plants, no clear, clean water.
Plants, planting, trees, Charette Lake road
Looking west from Charette Lake Road

So in these perilous, uncertain times of global climate change, when there seems to be so much disagreement on what should be done, there is one certainty that we all can do to help the planet and ourselves. And this is to plant plants!

Plant trees. Plant grasses. Plant flowers.  Plant, plant, plant! We need to recover the earth with as great a diversity of plants as we possibly can.  As a nurseryman, that’s my contribution to this equation; to provide people with plants. And that’s the thinking behind the imperative when I say, “there is nothing more important than plants”.