Leave the leaves! It’s an exhortation to gardeners to stop raking and blowing tree, shrub, and perennial leaves that drop in autumn, keeping the leaves in the garden as a natural mulch. If you think about how a forest functions, leaving the leaves makes sense. But does leaving the leaves in a residential garden really help?
Where do I start? It’s a question heard repeatedly in gardening webinars. Or maybe the question really is, how? When you’re contemplating a piece of ground you’d like to convert to a gardened space, how do you figure out which plants to select from the many thousands available? And how do you arrange those plants to create a design? For practice, start with a manageable space.
Whether classified as fen, mire, tropical swamp forest, or permafrost bog, peatlands store more carbon than the vegetation of all other landforms on Earth combined. With their unique ecology and thousand-year histories, peatlands also are places of mystery and beauty. Reconsidering peat in the garden is one way to contribute to their survival.
Intentional or not, natural light affects how we see. It has the power to capture attention, turning an ordinary garden into a memorable experience. Natural light becomes a design element, along with color, texture, landform, and plant type. How can we include this element in a garden design plan and control its impact on what we perceive?
The butterfly bush — Buddleja, or Buddleia, davidii and other species — is a butterfly magnet. An easy to grow, rapidly developing shrub, it seems a good choice for the pollinator garden. But it’s not.
Recognition of the value of native plants continues to grow. Senate Resolution 109 of the 117th Congress, which designates April 2021 as National Native Plant Month, passed with bipartisan support on March 25. The resolution “recognizes the benefits of native plants to the environment and economy of the United States.”
A wildlife garden is designed intentionally to attract birds and butterflies and other pollinators, not just because they’re enjoyable to watch, but because they need help to survive.
No matter how simple or complex, designed or haphazard, a garden is an ecosystem, a community of plants and animals interacting with the environment of a space — the sun, wind, rain, and soil.
If you read enough gardening and garden design literature, a few rules of thumb will emerge – guidelines to follow for planning and planting. Keeping these in mind can help when you’re not sure where to start or when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the advice available.
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