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Sustainability

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. 

 

An Environmentally Friendly Fall Clean-Up

We had an almost perfect fall weekend  --  skies were bright blue, temperatures were in the mid-60’s, and every once in a while a slight breeze would bring in the subtle scent of fall. Like I said, it was almost perfect, except for the non-stop noise pollution from our nearby neighbor's industrial strength leaf blower. As I stood in front of his house considering a non-confrontational way to beg him for a break from the noise, something even worse than the noise caught my attention. His haul of blown leaves was tightly tied up in literally a dozen black plastic bags waiting to be hauled off to the dump. 

Plant These Specialty Bulbs Now to Perk Up Your Spring Landscape

While we’re on the subject of bulbs   -  be sure and read last week’s article on alliums, -  I thought that it might be fun to showcase some of the less well-known specialty bulbs.  I discovered them a few years ago while pouring over a catalog from one of Embassy’s garden products suppliers, ordered a few varieties and have been hooked on them ever since. From the ones that peek out while the snow is still falling to those that herald the beginning of a long, lazy summer,  they are all worth a prime spot in the landscape.  

In Awe of Trees

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.

Plant Ephemerals Now For Early Spring Beauty

The first of the spring blooming bulb catalogues landed in my mailbox yesterday. That means it’s time to start seriously planning for those early bursts of color. Ten years ago that simply meant deciding which new variety of tulip to buy and whether to plant single or double cupped daffodils. Now my choices aren’t quite so clear cut; the best selections have to not only add beauty, but also nurture early appearing pollinators.

Celebrating Insects

My four-year-old granddaughter sat for a good half hour the other morning completely mesmerized by a caterpillar climbing up a branch. She squealed in delight each time it inched its way up the branch, forming an arch, then straightening out.  She declared that green was her favorite color and asked if she could keep it “forever.”    

I have to admit it --  I wasn’t quite so entranced with the giant tomato hornworm crawling up my heirloom tomato plant, but her fascination and pure joy did strike a chord with me. We all need to be a bit more appreciative of the insect populations that surround us, not just the monarch butterflies and golden honeybees, but all insects -- even the tomato hornworms in our lives. The stark reality is without insects, the planet will cease to exist as we know it. 

Bringing Patches of Prairie to the City

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.