Posts/Essays


Learning from Nature, Gathering Data – Citizen Science in the Garden

On the day the International Union for the Conservation of Nature announced that migratory monarch butterflies had been added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, I found a monarch caterpillar chewing on milkweed in my garden. An internationally recognized endangered species was reproducing in my suburban garden. Could restoring the environment really be this easy?

Leave the Leaves, But Why? Look to the Research

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?

Designing a Perennial Garden Bed

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.

Reconsidering Peat in the Garden

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.

Designing with Natural Light in the Garden

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?

National Native Plant Month – April 2021

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.”

The Butterfly Effect of a Wildlife Garden

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.

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