You have to go back about 200 years to find widespread demand for native nursery plants.
Imported species became big business in Victorian times, with explorers risking their lives in jungles and forests of Asia and South America, among other lands, to find the next exotic flower. Love for these showy imported cultivars continues today.
But about 40 years ago, Caton said, interest in native nursery plants began to grow, and then to spread.
In fact, some states have begun banning the importation and sale of some nonnative species popular in landscaping. Such bans exist in the northeast on plants such as burning bush, Norway maple and Japanese barberry, among others.
Unlike in the northeast and the west, however, the popularity of native plant landscaping has been slow to take root in the Southeast.
Caton said Enchanter's Garden is one of about a half-dozen native plant nurseries operating in West Virginia.
And "southern Virginia has been seen as kind of a native plant desert," said Doug Tallamy, a University of Delaware entomology professor and author of "Bringing Nature Home," a book about the importance of native plant landscaping.
"We have come to see plants as decorations and forgotten all the biological services they provide us," Tallamy said.
Some homeowners may rejoice when they find an ornamental plant labeled "pest free," but Tallamy said it's not a blessing.
"Nothing can eat them," Tallamy said. "The problem comes in how the plants affect the food webs. All energy that drives animal life is fueled by plants."
Today about 80 percent of the plants in our landscape come from Asia, and native insects can't eat them.
"In a few places, that's OK. But we do it everywhere. And you see collapse of species," Tallamy said.
It takes up to 9,000 native caterpillars to raise one clutch of Carolina chickadee young. Without native trees and plants to feed the caterpillars, the birds go hungry.
"Across North America, migrant bird species are in steep decline," Tallamy said. "Today we have 50 percent fewer birds than we did just 40 years ago."
"I encourage people to live with nature instead of the old method of us over here and nature over there," Tallamy said. "That used to be OK because there was a lot of nature over there. But the balance has shifted, and we have less nature.
"Now we need to integrate it more into our lives to keep ecosystems functioning," Tallamy said.
Landscaping with native plants may be one way to help reverse that trend.
The Enchanter's Garden plant list reads, in places, like an old ballad sung by lonely homesteaders around rustic Appalachian hearths: wild bleeding heart, hearts-a-burstin' and two-flowered Cynthia.
No doubt the indigenous people who lived or passed through the mountains hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years ago would recognize some of the plants growing in the greenhouse and would know uses for them.
It is ironic that a nursery dedicated to preserving native plants was started nearly 20 years ago by Heus, himself a Long Island import, and will be carried on by Elizabeth and Ian Caton, transplanted from Arkansas and Pennsylvania, respectively.
Like the pockets of native prairie flowers Caton says can be found hidden away in these mountains from ice ages past, it depends upon how you define native.
How long does it take for a plant -- or a family, or a people -- to naturalize in a place?
Ian Caton said he realized as a young man that life in a cubicle wouldn't suit him. After studying horticulture and environmental design, Caton said, he worked for about 12 years at Pennsylvania-based Larry Weaner Landscape Associates.
Caton said he got to know Heus at native plant conferences. When Heus decided to retire, he asked if the Catons would pay $1 and promise to keep the nursery going.
For the Catons, it was the right time to slow down.