N - The Big Picture

Over the long term the flora of an area is never static, but it is always adjusting to changes in climate and interactions with humans, animals, insects, diseases, etc. However since the arrival of Europeans in North America, the rate of change has accelerated. The trends toward: (1) more aliens and fewer natives, both in number of species present and biomass; and, (2) the loss of more specialized habitats and species, are both clearly evident in New Garden. A few alien agricultural weeds such as corn cockle (Agrostemma githago) and flax dodder (Linum epithynum) have disappeared as a result of changing agricultural practices, but they are far outweighed by the newcomers, many not even listed in A Flora of Chester County. It is hard to know how many natives have already been lost, but those species only seen once or twice in the Township and in very low numbers are in danger of local extinction.

Despite its long history of farming, industrial activity, and more recently the spread of tract housing, New Garden still possesses sizable areas of quality habitat, most notably in and around the canyon country of the East Branch of the White Clay Creek. Thanks to foresight in the community, some of this shared resource, along with portions of the remaining fragments of woodland, wetland, meadow, and edge scattered throughout the Township, has been preserved for posterity. However, these areas also need to have their plant communities within them protected from the additional threats they face, or future generations will only know a ghost of the richness of our local flora, a mere hint at what was, lost amidst a ocean of exotics.