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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I originally wrote this article, being confined to my home for months on end would have seemed like the plot line of one of the dystopian young adult novels I used to teach. Little did I dream that over 18 months of staying home 24/7 would become a reality. Had it not been for my glorious outdoor living space, I probably would have suffered from some serious bouts of cabin fever.
Although things are loosening now and the outside world is once again becoming accessible, my outside living space is still my go-to place for rest, relaxation and renewal. It's my peaceful spot for alone time and my cheerful spot for gathering with family and friends. It helps make my house a home. After what we've all been through the past few years, perhaps it's time that you pamper yourself and add your own perfect patio.
The 1 Trillion Tree Project was in the news again last week. Although I personally believe that solving climate change issues is more complex than just planting trees, reading the article made me think about the importance of replacing the trees that we have lost over the past few years. Replanting our missing trees and adding some new ones is the right thing to do -- not just for us but also for our immediate neighborhood, for our community at large and for the entire planet.
After the usual summer hosting a solitary visitor, my hummingbird feeders are suddenly overrun with feisty birds fighting for nectar. Last night there were at least ten battling for control; they spent so much time chasing each other away, I’m not sure any of them got a good meal.
As much as I loved being in the middle of the bird chaos, it also made me just a touch sad. All these birds descending on my yard at once could only mean one thing -- preparation for fall migration was starting. Much too soon, all these beautiful birds will be heading south for the winter.