For many decades gardening was about planting pretty things regardless of where the came from. Garden trends with baby boomers focused largely on ornamentals and the majority of prized plants were not indigenous to the area. Now, I don’t hate on the boomers who can say no to tulips, gladioli, rhododendron pretty is timeless.
However, as with all trends they do change. With economic and demographic changes, more people are living in urban areas than ever before. Coupled with economic pressures have resulted in garden trends returning to allotment gardens and a new interest in indigenous plants.
Live in concert with nature
With the renewed focus on growing food and adding indigenous plants to your landscape – it is important to respect your local ecosystem. On our property, we consider our land a little ecosystem. That is to say is to plan and work in tandem with our land from a holistic perspective. There is no room for use of pesticides in a healthy, productive ecosystem.
I strive to have balance on our land and plant to provide habitat for beneficial insects and animals. Plants like dill, parsley, echinacea, anise hyssop, crocus, dandelions and sunflowers provide habitat for bees, lacewings, and even hummingbirds. Providing food for insects from spring till frost is a key component to have a healthy garden. The insects that will come visit also need shelter, in reality they are no different than us in their names- food, safe shelter and a place to make offspring.
For example, adult ground beetles require tall clumps of indigenous grass to thrive. They are nocturnal and they eat slugs—which are gardeners’ nemesis. Enter our indigenous bumble bees, who because they have evolved together with native flowers are much better pollinators than the imported honey bee. Bumble bees are ground dwellers and like to make nests in abandoned rodent holes or under human made infrastructures.
Many solitary indigenous bees also at some point in their life cycle require open soil – so leave some open soil so they can dig to hibernate or build nests. Add some untreated logs of wood to your yard, these will provide homes for salamanders, various beetles and even centipedes. The most important aspect is having a diversity of species both large and small. They all work together and the results they will provide for your garden is without measure!
Last, leave parts of your yard un-mowed – don’t touch it. I know that goes against what we are trained to think, but mowing is murder. Imagine large, loud whirling blades coming right for you—this is what insects experience with ever mow. Leaving un-mowed lawn gives even more habitat for the micro-world!
And of course, always remember to have fun!
How do you work in partnership with the animals you share space with?