Curiosity about how things really work in nature led me to world of environmental scientists who deal in facts, not just feelings. The more I learn from them, the more I know that what we do at home makes a difference (positive or negative) and that every yard counts. Entomologist Doug Tallamy has given substance and urgency to the importance of restoring insects to our landscapes. He speaks eloquently on “Restoring the Little Things That Run the World” (i.e. insects).
My gardens are alive with memories of plants and people. When grandpa’s peonies bloom every June, deep-in-my-bones recollections come bubbling up. Even as a toddler, I was irresistibly drawn to the gigantic compost pile inside a crumbling old stone foundation behind his barn. Lusciously fragrant, audaciously magenta peonies bloomed beside the steaming, teeming life-filled mound.Maybe that’s where I caught the gardening bug so early on.
As a young gardener getting a whole lot of hands-on experience wrestling out rocks, poison ivy, invasive shrubs and vines, I began doubting the wisdom of traditional garden books - especially regarding double-digging. I could see that plants grew over, around and between rocks in natural areas. Why not find a better way to prepare beds on my rocky mountainside, quit pulling out stones and put plants in the right niches?
Climate change has put many co-evolved plants and pollinators out of sync. Beekeepers can monitor their hives and do supplemental feeding. What plants feed early emerging native bees?
When look at translucent flowers like witch hazels with low sun shining through, they’re ablaze with light. Backlighting is pure glowing magic.
How to help birds in winter and protect birds from predators and collisions with glass.
Dead and dying trees provide wildlife habitat and are critical to forest health. Let's look at fallen branches and trees as natural resources rather than disposal problems.
The transition from fall to winter changes the view out my window. But there are still late fall flowers for pollinators and positive environmental news.
If we want to garden in a more ecologically beneficial way, it only makes sense to go outdoors and see what the natural world can teach us. It doesn’t look like much is going on in the woods after most deciduous trees have shed leaves and gone quiet for the winter. But recent woodland walks have given me ideas and inspiration aplenty.
Being surrounded by gardens is like living in a wildlife blind. The more native plants I grow right outside the windows, the more critters appear.