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?

A Few Rules of Thumb for Planning and Planting a Garden

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.

Native Shade: The Willow Oak

A Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) blends the solid structure of the red oak family — think of the Northern Red Oak or the lesser known but similarly impressive Shumard Oak — with the fine-textured appearance of a willow tree’s leaves. Given room to grow in full sun, it is magnificent.