I think I'll adopt "ecological horticulturist" to describe my own approach to gardening. Whether you specialize in gardening with native plants, as I do, or prefer to grow plants from around the world, studying their native habitats is, in my experience, the best way to learn how to grow them in a garden.
That doesn't mean you have to recreate the conditions exactly. In many cases, this is impossible, anyway. The native Aquilegia canadensis, eastern red columbine, thrives in the crumbling mortar of my front steps; this location recreates some aspects of the face of a limestone cliff where I saw, decades ago, a huge colony of them in full bloom.
This is why I'm trying to go on more botanical walks and hikes. Like many, if not most, gardeners, I've never seen most of the plants I grow in the wild. I visited Hempstead Plains for the first time in August 2013.
That inspired me last year to remove most of the remaining lawn in the front yard and approach it as a meadow, instead.
Rain gardens and rock gardens are both examples of creating gardens to grow plants requiring specific conditions, and to meet human needs. But we don't need to go to so much trouble. For all the "problem areas" in our gardens, there are plants that want nearly exactly those conditions. We need only think like a plant to see these as opportunities, and embrace the habitats waiting to emerge.
Hempstead Plains, Long Island's Remnant Prairie, 2013--09-04