Living in the heart of our city, I had wondered what the reaction was going to be when we killed the grass and replaced it with a prairie. Many of the homes in this older, established neighborhood (including hers) sport traditional landscapes with perfectly balanced foundation plantings, precisely edged sidewalks and lush, well-manicured lawns.
I added some Hens and Chicks to my succulent garden today. Pulling back an inch of gravel mulch, I nestled their roots into the soil underneath and then immediately watered them in. The whole time I worked though, my mind kept heading back to the desert, seeing the tiny Clustered Pincushion and the massive Saguaro cacti rising out of the bone dry landscape of sand and rock. On one hand, it is almost inconceivable to me that any plant life can exist at all in that harsh environment, but on the other hand, the old adage of Right Plant in the Right Place rings true.
After spending some time in the middle of that starkly beautiful wilderness though, I not only started to appreciate what I was looking at, but realized that the landscape of the desert has much to teach the rest of us in this time of rapidly changing climate. While parts of our country are being drenched by non-stop onslaughts of rain, almost half of the continental United States (46.5%) is suffering from years of on-going drought conditions. Many aquifers across the country are nearly depleted and will need years of consistent surface moisture to be replenished. According to the U.S. government’s Drought Monitor, 93 million people and 78 million acres of our crops are experiencing the effects of water shortages. Taking cues from the desert landscape, we can learn to manage our water consumption and still have stunning landscapes.
The idea of bringing the outdoors into the office is not a new one. Tropical plants, soothing sounds of gently flowing water, brightly colored fish effortlessly gliding through recreated oceans are common ways of bringing a slice of nature into today’s offices. While both research and observation tells us that bringing nature inside is good, we now know that going out into nature is even better.
After a year of working remotely from home, the American workforce is returning to the office. While it is a welcome change for many -- one recent survey by Glassdoor indicated that 72% of the respondents are looking forward to a return to the workplace -- most express a desire for modifications that protect their health and wellness. Safe distancing, deep cleaning and health screenings are at the top of the list of expected office precautions, but for employers who want to make a real difference in their employees’ lives, there is another even more beneficial option -- bringing the office outdoors.
Daffodils may herald the coming of spring, but lilacs assure us that spring is here! The iconic lilac, once thought of as a throwback to grandma’s garden, is once again finding the place of honor it deserves in today’s gardens.
My garden is bursting with color right now. Hundreds of daffodils in shades of yellow are all in bloom, filling the beds and weaving through the grass like bright ribbons. It makes me happy to just sit and look at them, and after all of the stresses of last year, every sliver of joy is a gift to be treasured and a solid faith in the future.
The experts at Pantone must have recognized the importance and universality of those feelings. For only the second time in its 21 year history, two different colors share the stage as Pantone’s Color of the Year. Reflecting on the global upheavals of 2020, the panel of forecasters paired the joyful, upbeat yellow Illuminating with the strong, dependable Ultimate Grey. According to the Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director Liatrice Eiseman, “...this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”
I was musing the other day about planting a dogwood tree out front this spring, debating about where I should put it. Rather than suggesting a spot, my husband asked me which one I was going to plant. For a second, the question threw me -- especially since I hadn’t bought any yet. Then it hit me; he wasn’t asking which one but which type I was intending to plant. Because it was April I had flowering dogwoods on my mind, but the truth is, there are several other types of dogwoods that would have also been beautiful choices. Here’s a run down on four of my favorites.