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Health, Wellness, & Nature

Need Joy In Your Autumn Landscape? Add Shrubs

I took an objective look at my front yard this week and determined it was sadly lacking in fall color. My four yellow mums in pots flanking the doorway just didn’t bring me quite enough joy. (Yes, I admit it  – I have been doing a Marie Kondo purge) What I really want are huge bursts of riotous color and texture before a long Midwestern winter with its ice, snow and freezing temperatures sets in. 

Patience is the Key to a Successful Butterfly Garden

One of my favorite things to do this summer is to quietly sit on my deck, watching dozens of butterflies floating through the yard enjoying the nectar buffet I’ve planted. This is the first year that I’ve had a steady stream of visitors and it feels like the time, effort and money I’ve put into the pollinator garden the last few years are finally paying off.

MONARCH BUTTERFLIES ARE FACING EXTINCTION

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), has officially added the migratory monarch butterfly to its list of endangered species. Unless there are immediate, concerted efforts to restore its habitats and halt climate change, this beloved butterfly will become extinct. One subspecies, the western monarch, is at particular risk. In 2021, researchers determined that less than 2,000 of them exist. 

Fighting Climate Change -- One Garden At A Time

One of the beds in my front yard has snow drops, winter aconites, Siberian squill, crocuses and daffodils all in bloom. It’s unbelievably beautiful, but the reality is they shouldn’t all be blooming at the same time. To me, this early spring  (or more accurately late winter) show is just another sign that our climate is truly changing, and it’s time to get serious about making some changes. To reduce my own carbon footprint this year, I’ve set eight goals for myself for the 2022 gardening season.

Watch Out! A Reverse Spring May Be Coming

 

I watched three unsuspecting robins search my backyard for bugs this morning. Normally that would send a shiver of delight down my spine and pull me outdoors to get ready for spring planting. This morning all I wanted to do was warn them to be safe and to go back to wherever they came from.

 

A Child's Garden

Last fall I gave myself a gift of new flower beds. It took me weeks to dig up almost the entire backyard and haul in bag after bag of cotton burr compost. My vision was to wait until this spring and then fill my perfectly prepared beds with a whole new collection of native plants. I imagined myself designing a space that would nourish the native insects and reward me with blossoms from early spring until late fall. It was going to be absolutely perfect — a neighborhood showplace. 

As usual, my plans didn’t quite work out the way I intended. Oh, the beds are ready and waiting to be planted. I’m still going to fill them with blooms from spring until fall. I may even manage to feed an insect or two. (hopefully beneficial ones) I just won’t be filling those beds with native plants this year. Something much more important is taking precedence over my dream. My grandkids need a huge flower garden of their own. 

Why Every Garden Needs A Frog

I found my three-year-old granddaughter standing by the window yesterday, sobbing her heart out. When I asked her what was wrong, she pointed a qivering finger at the pond and did that “hiccuppy” thing heartbroken children do. Eventually she sputtered out that the frogs in my pond were too cold and she wanted to bring them inside where it was warm. I managed to convince her that the frogs were just fine and that they needed to be in the pond, but the whole time there was a little voice in my head accusing me of blatantly lying to this tender-hearted child. The reality was that I had no earthly idea what frogs do during the winter – or if they were even still alive. 

 

The Benefits to Our Children of Spending Time in Nature

I was throwing together a casserole for dinner the other night and half listening to the national news when a segment caught my attention. It was towards the end of the broadcast, near the “feel-good” portion of the news – the part that is supposed to leave you feeling more optimistic about the state of the world. A regional anchor was describing a revolutionary new program designed to bolster the mental health and self-esteem of our nation’s youth. The groundbreaking new idea? Take youth outside and let them experience nature.