What a difference being outdoors in a warm, green plant-filled environment makes to a winter-weary spirit! Walking and gawking at the tropical (and subtropical) abundance in the funky, small-scale neighborhood of Pass-a-Grille Beach, squished between Boca Ciega Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, in St. Petersburg, Florida is a treat. In this climate, things just grow and every yard is a garden.
I love watching songbirds gobble down bugs and berries on the staghorn sumacs planted outside my front window and listening to owls whoo-ing nearby at night. But some wildlife - voles - have worn out their welcome by eating plants and tunneling through gardens. How do I establish self-sustaining wildlife-friendly plant communities when the wildlife keeps eating my plants? Voles and mice play an important role in ecosystems - but I want them out of my garden.
Who is curb appeal for? Why not appeal to wildlife and to your own sense of beauty instead of having a high maintenance cookie cutter suburban landscape?
A garden coaching client's bed of Physostegia virginiana totally changed my perspective about this aggressive native plant. Now this stalwart perennial tops my list of plants that are beautiful, support wildlife and solve problems. Read about how this plant solved a big erosion problem with style.
I love the way everything about my sunny sideyard garden changes throughout the growing season. And I love the act of artful (and occasionally ruthless) tweaking.
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.